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      Rodeo clown says America needs to laugh

      A large crowd turned out at the La Plata Soybean Festival Labor Day afternoon to eat carnival food, watch the parade, and say hello to a special guest who was recently the subject of a national controversy.

      Tuffy Gessling is a clown who was banned from the Missouri State Fair after a routine involving a clown wearing an Obama mask. However, there were no tears coming down the clown's cheeks about the issue. "I urge anybody, anybody that has political views, any politicians - state, local... I don't care, come out and watch. Let's laugh," Gessling said.

      Tuffy the clown got more than just applause at the Soybean festival. After the parade, crowds of people came over to get their shirts autographed, have their pictures taken, or just to give him a hug.

      Emotions are still running very high over what happened at the Missouri State Fair. "I almost felt like this was discrimination against a white person," said La Plata resident Melanie Cook. "Just becamse the President is black... I don't think there was any discrimination towards him at all. I think it was just a clown act that they do - I feel like they're taking this to extremes," Cook said.

      Others had a different opinion on why they came out to show support. Carie Fouch organized a tee-shirt drive to support Tuffy. So far, she has sold well over 100 shirts.

      "It's about freedom of speech, being able to say that is what are rights are," Fouch said. "It has nothing to do with color of skin. It's hilarious, it's funny to see a clown. They make the people laugh."

      Tuffy the clown says though that people are missing the point of his performances. "There's been a lot support and a few people who didn't like it so much. Like I tell everybody else though... it's a joke, America has to laugh once in a while."

      Tuffy doesn't know if the Obama mask routine is gone forever. He says, audiences will have to attend his future performances to find out.