Wilbur Plaugher, 91, knows his way around a rodeo arena -- both as cowboy and clown. He was inducted to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1990 for his illustrious career as both a rodeo cowboy and rodeo clown.
Plaugher, a true legend in the rodeo world, has held two world records for the fastest time in steer wrestling and was the All Around Champion Cowboy in 1946 at Madison Square Garden -- The same year he began his career as a rodeo clown and bullfighter, saving hundreds of cowboys after being thrown off 2,000 pound angry bulls.
His honors include 1961 Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association Man of the Year and 1982 PRCA Clown of the Year.
He was the PRCA Clown of the Year in 1982. Plaugher rode saddle broncs and bareback horses, but steer wrestling was his specialty. For years, it wasn't unusual to see him wrestling steers in his baggy clown britches and grease paint.
For decades, Plaugher, born March 13, 1922, in Lima, Ohio, was one of rodeo's funniest clowns. His most popular act included trained ducks and dogs that doubled as rabbits and fighting bulls. The crowd favorite was having monkeys aboard dogs run a competitive barrel-racing pattern.
Plaugher was also a regular on the "Daniel Boone" television series and became good friends with actor Fess Parker. He turned down an offer to be on "Bonanza."
Plaugher is the co-founder of the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, formed in 1974, and will preside over Sunday's 9 a.m. Cowboy Church Sunday at Bohna Arena.
Clifton Janksky and Doug Cockrill will be joining Plaugher leading music on their guitars. Janksky is a four-time Christian Country Awards winner and has had six No. 1 songs in Christian country music. His voice has been compared to that of country music legend George Strait.
Cowboy Church is proceeded by the 8-11 a.m. Cowboy Round-Up Pancake Breakfast.
"We are very excited and honored to have Wilbur Plaugher give the message this year and hope everyone will come out and join us for a great morning before a full day of fun and excitement at the rodeo," said Stacy Soulis, rodeo committee member.