Black Hills Roundup will feature comic relief with rodeo clown

Black Hills Roundup
Trent McFarland

BELLE FOURCHE, S.D. — Rodeo clown Trent McFarland loves to make people laugh, and that’s exactly what he plans on doing when he gets to the 102nd annual Black Hills Roundup on June 30-July 4.

The Autaugaville, Ala., man will bring a bevy of acts with him, all with the goal of tickling fans’ funny bones throughout the two and a half hour show in Belle Fourche.

From his Wrangler Roadster to his mule named Barthol-The-Mule and his trick rope, McFarland knows how to entertain.

He grew up the son of Sid McFarland, who also works as a rodeo clown. By the time he was 12 years old, he was working alongside his dad, in the rodeo arena, and when he was 15, he was doing it every weekend.

During the week, McFarland serves as a registered nurse first assistant in surgery. His schedule is flexible; he works on the days he’s home in Alabama, and because of the need for RNs, he knows his job will be there when he takes time off to clown rodeos. This summer, he’ll leave the operating room for the rodeo road for two months before coming back home. “Luckily for me, the demand is so high for nurses that they need me.”

McFarland works 40 weekends a year, traveling from coast to coast and border to border. Two years ago, within one month’s time, he worked a show in Florida, then headed to northern Minnesota. From there, he went to a rodeo in Montana, then west to California, then to New Jersey a few weeks later. “I ended up firing the guy who booked that run,” he laughed, since he does his own booking.

Like a typical clown, McFarland can poke fun at both of his careers. “I’m a male nurse who wears makeup on the weekends,” he laughs. “After a bad accident (in the rodeo arena) I know how to take care of myself.”

And another one-liner: “I try out all my new material in the operating room. The patients are already anesthetized, so they don’t know if the jokes are bad.”

His second career came in handy last year, when rodeos were canceled due to the pandemic. “I was so relieved to have a job,” he said. It was a great time to refresh and relax. “I got to recharge my batteries, slow down and refocus. It made me appreciate rodeo more.”

McFarland and his wife Wendy have two sons, ages 5 and 6, who help with their father’s act. He keeps his jokes and acts clean. “I pride myself on clean family entertainment. If I can’t do it in front of my grandma or the preacher then you won’t see me do it. There aren’t many things in America you can take your kids to, but you can bring them to the Roundup and know it will be a wholesome family event.”

The Black Hills Roundup kicks off June 30 with a ranch rodeo at 7 p.m. It continues with a performance at 7 p.m. on July 1-3 and a 3 p.m. performance on July 4. Family night is July 1; July 2 is Chutes for Charity night, and July 3 is Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. July 4 is Military and First Responders Day.

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