HOT SHOT Z CLOWN entertains visitors at the Great Darke County Fair


GREENVILLE – The Great Darke County Fair has been a mainstay in the county for over 150 years. There are rides, all sorts of food, displays and the fair has even had wild animals. These things have changed over the years. New rides and new foods pop up all the time. The special events change and so do the vendors. There is, however, one thing which has not changed in the last 2 decades.
Hot Shot Z Clown has been bringing smiles to children at the fair for over almost 20 years and even though he has ‘retired’, he still comes back to his favorite spot: The Great Darke County Fair!

If you are at this fair in late August, you can’t miss him. He is easy to find. All you need to do is follow the children and they will find him for you. He is usually located at the grandstand and will be easy to spot because of the clothes he wears.
His shoes are three different colors, his pants and shirt are way too big, he wears outlandish ties and he has a black hat with a multicolored band around it. He is also the only one with a flower growing out of his hat! His outfit is not the only thing which makes the children smile. He loves making children happy by taking balloons and turning them into poodles, swords, hats, hearts and even a ring with a parrot on it!

Crying children see him and when they get their balloon animal (usually a poodle) they suddenly have a big smile on their face. They are not the only ones. Parents have a smile and so does Hot Shot who has a soft heart when it comes to the kids.
While adults and children interact with him for only a few seconds, Hot Shot’s personal story is an amazing one and needs to be told. You may think he is just a clown who makes balloon figures but he has an amazing history.

It all started in an Indiana hospital where he was in a bed recovering from an accident. A clown came to visit the hospital and talked to him about clowning.

“I never thought about being a clown,” Hot Shot says, “but one thing led to another and before long I was in the clown college of the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. The people at the clown college used to say they were not teaching us to be a clown but they were trying to bring out the clown in us!
“I graduated clown college and was with the Ringling Brothers circus for 10 years.”

After leaving the circus, Hot Shot began his career and what a career it was. There was one part of his career which means more to him than anything.

“My favorite memory is when I was the opening act for the great comedian Red Skelton. He came up to me after his performance and thanked me for what I do. It was a great compliment from one of the best there ever was. I will never forget those times or meeting one of greatest clowns there ever was.” (Red Skelton was a famous comedian who had his own TV show for many years. He was one of the most revered and well-known comedians of the time. Mr. Skelton died in 1997.)

Hot Shot continued his career and was soon a mainstay at carnivals, fairs and festivals. His balloon sculpting soon became his most recognizable trait but he also has another hidden talent. He is also a magician with an array of magic tricks. At one point in his long career, Hot Shot did stage magic. He is a man of many talents.

After 40 years of ‘clowning around’, Hot Shot has decided to retire and spend more time with his friends and family. However, his love for the children and for The Great Darke County Fair were too strong.
“I love the people of Darke County and I love The Great Darke County Fair,” Hot Shot said. “I may be retired from the other fairs and events but I will be back next year and the year after that and every year after as long as I can and as long as they will have me.”

Today, he lives in Indiana and is enjoying his retirement. You would never recognize him when he is not in his Hot Shot outfit and he likes it that way. He is a clown but he enjoys his quiet time, too.
We just hope he continues to come out of retirement every year and be Hot Shot Z Clown for The Great Darke County Fair.
Happy retirement, Hot Shot, and we hope to see you next year!

Bill Stevens / Correspondent

Bill Stevens is a correspondent for Darke County Now.

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