Jake Herman is best remembered as a rodeo clown, but also had the ability to ride broncos, trick ride and rope, ride bareback, and entertain audiences as an outstanding comedian. These combined talents make Herman one of South Dakota’s Great Faces.
Herman began his rodeo career at Jack King’s Wild West Show and Rodeo Royal Circus. He was a fan favorite in both trick and fancy rope spinning and bronc riding. In 1918, Jake decided he was tired of traveling and following rodeos. However, he was not ready to give up the rodeo altogether. He decided to become a specialty act as a Wild West Rodeo Clown.
His counterparts included a pet skunk called “Stinky,” a devoted dog, “Tag,” and a trick mule named “Creeping Jenny.” Together they charmed rodeo fans across the nation.
Herman once said, “There is one thing about rodeo fans, if a cowboy gets bucked off or gets hooked by a bull, he gets their sympathy, but if a rodeo clown encounters the same type of situation, everyone gets a big laugh out of it.”
Herman retired on the Pine Ridge Reservation but continued to serve as a rodeo announcer and wrote articles about the Wild West and rodeos for both local and national publications. Throughout his life Herman also worked for the federal government, the Pine Ridge police force and the Oglala Sioux tribal council.
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
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