CLAREMORE, Okla. – Over the last two and a half decades, Dale “Gizmo” McCracken has received a number of honors in his career as a professional rodeo clown.
None of them matter more than the smiles he sees on faces in the crowd when people love what he’s doing inside the arena. That’s the mark of a true entertainer.
And because fans in northeast Oklahoma love McCracken’s work, he will return to the Will Rogers Stampede PRCA Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27-Sunday, May 29, at Will Rogers Stampede Arena.
“Gizmo has been a good friend to the Will Rogers Stampede for many years, and we’ve had people come up to us over and over again wanting to know when Gizmo is coming back to Claremore,” said David Petty, chairman of the volunteer committee that produces the annual rodeo. “We’re glad to have him back.”
Moves like that have helped earn the Will Rogers Stampede the title of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Small Rodeo of the Year for each of the past two seasons. Tickets for this year’s 70th anniversary rodeo are on sale through the event’s website, www.WillRogersStampede.com, and include family packs and adult passes offered at a significant discount online.
McCracken is no stranger to recognition. He has four nominations for PRCA Comedy Act of the Year, including finishing among the top five each of the past two years.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve been there, but we’ve got a lot of friends and fans in Claremore,” McCracken said. “It’s always good to go to a rodeo where you see a bunch of fans.
“The big thing we do is the ‘walk and talk,’ and we work it from the hello to the end. I’ll bring out a lot of characters throughout the rodeo, because I think if you come for more than one night, you should see the different characters.”
That’s the clown’s trademark. During any performance, he will introduce a full cast of characters to the crowd, helping the production and timing of the rodeo while keeping the fans entertained.
“What’s really great about Gizmo is that he has so many characters,” Petty said. “It’s like he’s a quick-change artist, and it happens so fast you don’t realize it.”
That’s McCracken’s life as a rodeo clown. He spends many weeks on the road, working events in several states, but he loves what he does. He enjoys the crowds and the excitement that comes with rodeo, and loves to see the smiles and hear the laughter.
“I really enjoy seeing people have a good time,” McCracken said. “Maybe there’s a guy that’s had it pretty rough, is struggling some. If we can just get him to the rodeo and use our last American heritage sport to help him forget his troubles, then he’s had a good night, and we, as a rodeo, have had a good night, too. Laughter is pretty good medicine, and the way things are right now, everybody needs a shot.”