Emmett Kelly

The annual Emmett Kelly Clown Festival has drawn its last breath, organizers of the event that began in 1988 announced late last week. The affair won’t be held this year.

Organized by the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, the festival began as a three-day festival to honor Emmett Kelly Sr., the hometown boy who went on to worldwide fame as a circus clown. His character, Weary Willie, delighted millions across the globe. A Houston park is named in his honor.

Held annually the first Friday and Saturday in May, the event featured a variety of activities, including a carnival and a parade that attracted participants throughout the Midwest over the years. The festival drew publicity in numerous publications and television programs. PBS sent a Minneapolis camera crew to Houston one year to document the event.

The festival was a big undertaking, and some years rain put a damper on activities and profits.

The chamber said it plans to add activities to its schedule in lieu of the festival: An April 25 demolition derby and a spring event on May 16.

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