The small town of Plainview, NE calls itself the Klown Capital of the U.S. The name originated when the local town band decided to dress in clown costumes during one of their concerts. They were so well received that it became a tradition that continues today. The town has a Klown Museum with clowns of all shapes, sizes and types that have been donated by people from all over the world. They have an annual Klown Festival, with a parade, picnic, and many other family-oriented activities, including mutton bustin’, a porky scramble (you’d have to see these activities to really understand what they are), and a band concert. As part of the celebration, the local sheriff will stop a vehicle with an out-of-state license and “capture” its occupants to be the Klown Kaptives for the weekend festival.
We had been camping in the Plainview city park for a couple of days while we waited for some mail when there was a knock on our door. I opened the door and the sheriff was standing there and asked that since we have Maine state license plates on our truck, we were being selected to be the Klown Kaptives for the Klown Festival. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were in for a one great weekend; one that we would remember for many years to come and that would result in our meeting many new and great friends from this small town. We spent the rest of the weekend being treated to small town hospitality. Normally the Klown Kaptives are required to wear a special clown costume throughout the weekend, but since it was so hot this year, we did not have to wear the costume. We were asked to wear special Klown Festival jerseys during all official activities.
We were assigned an official host couple and treated to anything that we wanted. Wherever we went there was someone putting a soda in our hands, handing us a sandwich, or feeding us popcorn or corn dogs. We were the guest of honor at all the civic activities of the festival including the town picnic barbecue and rode in a classic Corvette as the Klown Parade marshal. Since it was so hot, our hosts invited us to go to their cabin located on a nearby “crick”. We spent the next couple of hours sitting in the shade of the cottonwood trees, in chairs placed in the stream talking about the town and our travels around the country. In the evening we were given front row seats for the concert and were introduced to the townspeople. Even though we had a fifth-wheel trailer in the city park, our hosts insisted that we spend the night as their guests in a beautiful old Victorian home bed-and-breakfast.
This bed-and-breakfast could be a story itself. Each room was decorated with authentic 1800s furniture. Hidden within the antique pieces, however, were signs of the twenty-first century: computer with FAX/modem, cable TV, CD player, and other electronic devices. After a wonderful breakfast the next day, our hosts stopped by and thanked us for being great Klown Kaptives. For our part we plan on donating a Murano crystal clown that we found in Venice, Italy to the Klown Museum. Small town America with it’s celebration of family and family values will always give rebirth to the American spirit and further demonstrates the greatness of this country and its people.