Clown has a streak of comedy

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Gizmo McCracken was named the PRCA Comedy Act of the Year in 2017 and has been nominated for the award 12 times. He will be the featured entertainer at the Rooftop Rodeo in Estes Park this July.

Gizmo McCracken to be featured entertainer at this year’s Rooftop Rodeo

ESTES PARK, Colo. – For most of his life, Dale “Gizmo” McCracken has been a comedian.

He spent some time on stage in Branson, Missouri, then transitioned that into a career as a rodeo clown. It’s carried him to locales all across North America, but it’s never brought him to Estes Park.

That changes this year when he will serve his role at Rooftop Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 5-Monday, July 10, at Granny May Arena in Estes Park inside the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

“I’m going to be the rookie in town,” said McCracken, ever the comedian. “It’s pretty neat. It’s nice to get to go to places I’ve heard a lot about and heard about how pretty it is there. I think it’s something we’re going to really enjoy.”

He knows a few things about that. His business is putting smiles on people’s faces. He wears greasepaint and, true to his nickname, he has plenty of gadgets that play into his schtick; he presents his comedy for folks of all ages.

Even before he is set to arrive in Estes Park, McCracken understands that the Rooftop Rodeo crowd will be a bit different from the typical run of rodeos he’s been involved with, where fans know a little more about the sport they are enjoying.

“The nice thing about that is you have people there that are from all over the country,” he said. “You’ll have people that have never seen a rodeo; they’ve heard about it, so for me, it’s important for us to make a good impression on a lot of those newcomers. It reminds me of our Branson days, where people would come from all over to be entertained.”

Rodeo is the perfect mix of Western sports and family-friendly entertainment. While watching cowboys ride bucking horses and bulls is fun, there’s something special about a clown that wants to see people happy. He did that on stage, and now he does it on dirt.

McCracken grew up around livestock. He helped his father break ponies to ride, and then, while in his teens, he took up bullfighting, working at rodeos to help keep cowboys safe during bull riding. He always utilized his comedic chops, so it was an easy transition to being a rodeo clown.

“The challenge is the biggest difference between the rodeo arena and a stage show,” McCracken said. “When you walk out on a stage, everybody in the theater looks at you. When you walk into an arena, you have other things they can look at, so I have to do some different things to be seen by the audience. I have more freedom to do comedy material, too. Branson is way more scripted.”

That’s not how McCracken works a rodeo crowd, and he plans to keep doing this for a few more years. He’s not far removed from being named the 2017 PRCA Comedy Act of the Year, an honor for which he’s been nominated 12 times.

“I’ve been doing this longer than a lot of those other guys have been alive,” he said. “To still be able to be mentioned with them and to still be relevant means a lot to me.

“It’s just exciting to still be in demand.”

Gates for Rooftop Rodeo open at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 5-Monday, July 10, with the preshow beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the rodeo beginning at 7 p.m. For more information about Rooftop Rodeo, which is a Town of Estes Park signature event, or to order tickets online, log on to Other ticket inquiries may be made by contacting the Town of Estes Park Events office at or (970) 586-6104.


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