UPDATE: Rodeo clown, not announcer, is said to be the person who made racist joke at Creston rodeo

Comments at event Saturday were ‘unacceptable,’ board member says

jhickey@thetribunenews.comSeptember 15, 2012 

UPDATE:It was rodeo clown Mike Hayhurst of Barstow, not announcer Ed Kutz of Arroyo Grande, who made a racist joke about Michelle Obama over the public address system of the Creston Classic Rodeo on Saturday, a rodeo board member confirmed.

Spectators initially believed that Kutz made the comment because both he and Hayhurst were on microphones at the same time.

Hayhurst has performed at the event for several years, but is an independent contractor and not officially affiliated with the rodeo, said Creston Classic Rodeo board member Mike Barrett.

Speaking on behalf of the rodeo’s nine-member board, Barrett said that the board is not responsible for the joke and will ask Hayhurst for a letter addressing the issue and a public apology. The board will discuss at its next meeting if it will fire Hayhurst, and will review scripts for future performances by any clown.

“We probably won’t be using his services in the future,” Barrett said of the clown.

Hayhurst was not performing at the rodeo on Sunday and was unavailable for comment because he is in the hospital, Barrett said. Hayhurst was taken to a local hospital on Saturday evening for head injuries. Barrett did not know if the injuries were related to an accident at the rodeo Saturday, in which a bull tossed Hayhurst into the air.

Kutz, who was erroneously identified at the one who made the comment in initial reports, declined to speak to The Tribune Sunday.

ORIGINAL: An announcer at the Creston Classic Rodeo offended some in the audience Saturday when he made a racist joke about first lady Michelle Obama over the PA system. Now, at least one rodeo board member is demanding an apology.

“I was really appalled and the people around me were really appalled,” said spectator Dona Wilson of Santa Margarita. “He was acting like we were buying into his bigotry and we weren’t.”

Wilson said she heard a lady beside her say: “ ‘Whoa! Racist or what?’ ”

According to Wilson, the joke as told by the announcer, went something like this: Playboy is offering Ann Romney $250,000 to pose in the magazine and the White House is upset about it because National Geographic only offered Michelle Obama $50 to pose for them. “I can’t speak for the board, but I myself think that this is unacceptable behavior or conduct by the announcer,” said Mike Barrett, Creston Classic Rodeo board member. “I find it offensive, and I think that it’s conduct unbecoming the rodeo announcer.”

Wilson did not know the name of the announcer, but three board members told The Tribune the announcer was Ed Kutz of Arroyo Grande. It could not be confirmed that he was the one who made the remarks.

Barrett said he called Kutz and asked for him to apologize, but could only reach his answering machine.

Barrett, who did not hear the remarks firsthand, learned of them when his sister-in-law, Wilson, told his wife.

“There was no way I was going to let that go unmentioned,” Wilson said. “I think there should be an apology made over the loudspeaker.”

Aside from Barrett, only two of the rodeo’s nine-member board could be reached by The Tribune: Tom Hansen and Rick Heim both said they could not comment because they had not heard the joke.

None of the board’s other members returned calls from The Tribune.

Kutz could not be reached for comment.

Racist jokes about Obama appearing in National Geographic magazine have been circulating for several years.

Tribune photojournalist Jayson Mellom contributed to this report.

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