The Creston Classic Rodeo’s board of directors apologized Tuesday for racist and offensive comments made by a clown during the weekend rodeo.
“The board of directors apologizes to anyone offended by the inexcusable behavior of 2012 rodeo clown Mike Hayhurst on Saturday, Sept. 15,” the board said in its statement. “Mr. Hayhurst was an out-of-town independent contractor who was solely responsible for his inappropriate attempt at humor. His distasteful words do not in any way reflect the beliefs or standards of the rodeo board.”
It also said it decided to “sever all ties” with Hayhurst.
Rodeo director Jeff Rigby noted in the statement that “We still believe in the ‘Cowboy Way,’ and part of that creed is to tip our hat and respect women. Mr. Hayhurst broke a cowboy rule.”
Hayhurst, who lives in Barstow and is a charter school superintendent in Victorville, sent the following apology to The Tribune:
“Thanks to the founders and defenders of our great nation, we are afforded our free speech rights. With those rights comes responsibility. At the Creston Classic Rodeo on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, I irresponsibly told a joke that many people found offensive and I apologize.
“This was a joke I read in 2010 and chose to recycle it during this election season. I simply substituted Ann Romney’s name where the original joke used Sarah Palin’s name. While no apology will satisfy everyone, I hope those of you in the Creston area with whom I have had a 15-plus year relationship will accept mine.”
Hayhurst told the joke Saturday during the rodeo.
The joke, as he told it, said Ann Romney, wife of GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, was offered $250,000 to pose for Playboy. The White House was upset, Hayhurst continued, because first lady Michelle Obama could only get $50 from National Geographic.
Several people who attended the bull-riding event that followed the rodeo emailed The Tribune and said Hayhurst also made offensive comments about President Barack Obama, actress Lindsey Lohan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The organization that managed the bull-riding event, United Bull Riding from Bakersfield, apologized Monday for Hayhurst’s comments and pledged it would oversee announcers more closely in the future.
The Creston rodeo board also criticized The Tribune’s initial reporting of the incident Sunday that identified Ed Kutz of Arroyo Grande as an announcer at the event. Kutz was indeed announcing the rodeo performance, but Hayhurst was also wired with a microphone and was the one who made the offending joke.
“We also want to express our support for rodeo announcer Ed Kutz,” the board statement said. “It is unfortunate that a hastily written newspaper story wrongly implied that he was responsible for the unsuitable joke. Ed’s reputation should not be stained by the actions of Mr. Hayhurst.”
Executive Editor Sandra Duerr responded to the rodeo board’s criticism, saying, “Our Sunday story that left the impression to some that Kutz made the remarks was based on information provided by a Creston Classic Rodeo board member, but we also noted that we could not confirm that he made the remark.
“As we continued to report the story Sunday and learned that Hayhurst made the offensive remark, we reported that information on our website (www.sanluisobispo.com) immediately and made that clear in our subsequent coverage in print. Kutz did not respond to our phone call on Saturday evening and declined to discuss the matter when we reached him Sunday.’’