Face paint and bright clothes will be the preferred dress code today and Saturday as the 21st annual Emmett Kelly Clown Festival opens in Houston. The event pays honor to Emmett Kelly Sr., the world-famous circus clown who was raised on a farm east of Houston.
Kelly, whose first professional act came at the Old Settlers’ Reunion in Houston, has a city park named in his honor and is in the Hall of Famous Missourians in the state capitol in Jefferson City. Kelly died in 19xx.
The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the event, and it attracts clowns from across the Midwest. The presenting sponsor is Houston Wal-Mart.
The event climaxes with a 3 p.m. Saturday clown parade in downtown Houston. This year’s grand marshals are Ed and Lamione Hamilton.
Fun Time Carnival will operate this year’s midway. It opens Thursday.
On Friday, vendors are expected from noon to 10 p.m. in the downtown business district.
The chamber also is sponsoring a clown school for those wanting to learn more about the craft. It runs from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday at the community building at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds on North U.S. 63.
Music on the stage in downtown Houston is planned for Friday evening.
Activities crank up again Saturday morning with dozens of items on the agenda. At 9 a.m., the Houston FFA chapter will organize a petting zoo. A festival favorite – a circus featuring kindergarten students as performers – is 9 a.m. at Hiett Gymnasium on the Houston School District campus. At 9:30 a.m., Caboodlestoppers perform on the main stage. Cross Between, performing Christian music, is set for 10:15 a.m. on the main stage.
Joey Kelly, the grandson of Kelly Sr., will perform at the Lone Star Plaza at 11 a.m. Another show is set for 2 p.m. At the same time, Coaster Cars of the Ozarks will hold a competition in front of Hiett Gymnasium.
Houston Gymnastics and Super Starz Extreme are on the main stage at 11:30 a.m. Thirty minutes later Rock Creek takes to the same venue.
At 1:30 p.m., the Animal Shelter of Texas County will hold weiner dog races in front of the county courthouse. Registration ends at noon.
A clown competition is planned at Lone Star Plaza at 3:30 p.m.
Caboodlestoppers return for performances at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
A special news section on the 21st annual Emmett Kelly Clown Festival is included in today’s Herald.