By Adam Jerome, I-O Reporter
Zane Drishinski is a modern day Renaissance Man. He is a born and raised Conrad boy through and through. When he is not farming and ranching on the family spread or auctioneering he is entertaining the local crowd at the Whoop-Up rodeo with his clowning act.
Drishinski was born in Conrad at St. Mary’s Hospital, (the Tamarack Apartments). He went to school at CHS and graduated in 1985 before going to BYU-Idaho where he received his associate’s degree in Beef Production Management.
He took a two year hiatus from college to go to Japan on a church mission from 1987-89. In a fish out of water situation he lived in the Tokyo South area. By the end of his journey he was able to communicate in Japanese, which he still knows a little of today.
Upon his return he finished school and moved to Bozeman where he worked as a ranch hand at Sitz Angus. While he was there he also dabbled in rodeo, competing in the saddle bronc, calf and team roping events.
In 1993 he met his wife Julia and moved back to Conrad to take over the family farm. He and his wife have two children, Drew age 15 and Gabriele age 13.
In 2007 his rodeo clown story began. It was on a trip to the Montana Circuit Finals in Great Falls with his kids when the idea sprung into his head. He was enjoying the event and noticed an award winning rodeo clown.
He concentrated on the clown for most of the rodeo and thought, “Heck, I can do this.” After the rodeo was finished his kids wanted the clown’s autograph so they went behind the shoots and met the man. Drishinski noticed that the clown was his age. His vague idea now seemed to be more realistic.
On the ride home he informed his kids of his intent. At first they laughed, but after a while his son remarked, “Ya dad you could do it, you’re funny.”
The next week he called Lion’s Club member Tom Ophus and asked if he could give it a try at the next Whoop-Up. The Lion’s Club decided to give him a shot and the rest is history.
He commented about his first rodeo, “I was nervous. When I’m, auctioning I am in total control, but clowning is much different. The trick to being a good rodeo clown is to know when to be seen and heard and when to take a backseat.”
He continues, “Nothing is set, it is all spontaneous. I used to really concentrate on the actual clown act, but (stock contractor) Dick Lyman gave me some good advice. He told me that I need to know when to get into the action and when to get out.”
Originally he just planned to work at that one Whoop-Up rodeo to get it out of his system, but after that he was booked at the Choteau Rodeo.
Drishinski adds, “I have had a lot of fun with this new experience and am enjoying being back in the rodeo environment.
The only obstacle has been getting my PRCA card. My goal is to one day be able to get that card and perform in front of the big boys.”
Since 2007 he averages 15-20 performances a year in Montana and Canada at NRA rodeos, amateur events and Indian Sanctioned rodeos.
He is also constantly working on his act, as he puts it, “I like to keep my act current. There is nothing worse than going to the same rodeos and hearing the same old jokes. “
In his three years of clowning no matter where he goes or how many rodeos he does the highlight of his year is still performing in front of the home crowd at the Whoop-Up Rodeo.
At the Whoop-Up Rodeo, there is nothing better than being entertained by Conrad’s Clown, Zane Drishinski.
Drishinski will be performing at the 70th annual Conrad Lion’s Club Whoop-Up Rodeo on June 5-6.