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Houston Celebrates Its Legendary Clown, Emmett Kelly, with Annual Festival

Houston, Missouri Honors Emmett Kelly with a Vibrant Local Festival

Houston, Missouri, is gearing up for its annual celebration honoring Emmett Kelly, a cherished native son and pioneering American clown. The Emmett Kelly Festival transforms the town into a vibrant hub of activities, including parades, a variety show, and even a 5K run. This festival not only celebrates Kelly’s contributions as a beloved clown but also strengthens community ties through a shared appreciation of his legacy.

From Humble Beginnings to National Stardom

Born in Houston in the early 1900s, Emmett Kelly rose from modest beginnings to become a national icon. Known for his character “Weary Willie,” a hobo clown conceived from his childhood observations of transient workers during the Great Depression, Kelly brought laughter and joy to audiences during a time of national hardship. His portrayal connected deeply with people, making him a household name and leading to endorsements with major brands like Coca-Cola and Eastman Kodak.

A Legacy Celebrated and Continued

Each year, Houston celebrates Kelly’s life and artistry with events that draw both locals and visitors, including his family members. The festival is a blend of entertainment and education, offering everything from film screenings to college scholarship awards. Plans to further honor Kelly include fundraising for a permanent installation of a “Weary Willie” bench, where visitors can immerse themselves in a photo opportunity with the legendary clown. This ongoing celebration not only commemorates Kelly’s impact on the entertainment world but also showcases the enduring pride of the Houston community in their local hero.