Ken "Dizzy the Clown" Gillespie had to wait a year to be the grand marshal of the State Fair Parade in Minot because of the Souris River flooding.
But the fair and its parade are on again this year.
The parade is Saturday, starting at 9:15 a.m. sharp on the corner of Broadway and Burdick Expressway and goes to the fairgrounds.
Ken “Dizzy the Clown” Gillespie puts a red clown nose on Zoe Sailor, Minot, a volunteer at the SRT Communications annual meeting in the State Fair Center in Minot in June 2011. However,“Dizzy,” who was named the grand marshal of the North Dakota State Fair Parade that year, had to wait until this year for his duties because of the flooding in Minot last year and the fair and its parade were canceled. He saved the 4,000 red foam rubber noses from the flood and clowns will be handing them out at the parade on Saturday.
This year's theme is "Clowning Around," said Jim Clifford, chairman of the State Fair Parade Committee. He said, as of Monday, about 170 entries were scheduled for the big parade.
A longtime favorite clown around Minot and the area, Gillespie was prepared last year for his special honor as parade grand marshal. He had ordered 4,000 clown noses that he planned to have tossed out to the crowd.
But the flooding put a halt to all that.
He and his wife, Claudia, who live in historic Eastwood Park, were among the 11,000 residents who fled their homes because of the flooding Souris River.
He did save the 4,000 foam rubber clown noses from the flood, kept them in the garage at his mother-in-law, Arlane Durbin's home in northeast Minot, and now is ready to hand them out to parade goers. Gillespie's hope is everyone who gets one of the red noses puts it on and it will bring a big smile to their faces.
The noses will be handed out at the parade by Gillespie's clown friends from the World Clown Association, including Deanna "Dee Dee" Hartmier, president elect, and her husband Cliff "Mr. Stripes" from Winnipeg, Man., Ralph "Clumsy" Llewellyn and Debbie "Laditsy" Fowler, northwest director of the association, both of Fargo, as well as Kiddy Land clowns of Minot, Miles of Smiles clowns from Bismarck, and other North Dakota clowns.
Gillespie's sister, Leigh Allen from Olathe, Kan., and his nieces and nephews from Kansas City, Mo., are coming to Minot to be in the parade and the clown competition. Other relatives also will be in the parade.
Gillespie's been with the State Fair Parade Committee since its inception 32 years ago, and the parades are at the top of his "most fun" list.
Gillespie and his wife, Claudia, also a clown named "Cloudy," have been clowning at the State Fair for more than 30 years. Their two grown children, Janet "Sparkly" and Jared "Jarhead" also are clowns.
He plans the clown entertainment for each year's parade and also the clown competition at the fair after the parade. This year's competition will be at 2 p.m. at the Jukebox Junkie free stage No. 2. Gillespie said any clown is welcome to join the parade and take part in the competition.
A potluck will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at the Scandinavian Heritage Park shelter along South Broadway where the clowns register for the clown competition. A balloon competition also will be held at the park that night.
Gillespie, who has spent much of his life in Minot, has been clowning since the early 1970s. He's a volunteer clown for the Shriners and also a contract clown, or a clown who gets paid for his work. Gillespie was named the International Shrine Clown Association's Clown of the Year for 2009.
Gillespie is the clown at Kids' Night at JR Rockers at Minot Air Force Base the third Tuesday of every month.
He is president of the Midwest Clowns. Its convention will be Aug. 8-10 in Grand Forks.
"It's a great honor. I just love it. It really makes me feel good," Gillespie said of being the grand marshal of the 2012 State Fair Parade.