SKOWHEGAN — Antonia Smith of Oakland is an extrovert.

At age 47, the former stay-at-home mom turned clown would have to be an extrovert to do what she does: perform as Wingnut the Clown.

She will bring her act to the 194th Skowhegan State Fair, which opens Thursday for 10 days of music, demolition derbies, truck and tractor pulls, animals, agricultural exhibits, horse racing and food.

“A clown is an extension of who you already are,” Smith said. “Clowns shouldn’t be actors. My clown is not an actor, but merely an extension — I’m an extrovert. It would be foolish to create a clown that’s a mime when their personality is an extrovert.

“The key to being a clown is to be authentic and you can’t be authentic if you’re being false. Wingnut is an exaggerated version of who I am,” she said.

She got her clown name from being herself, too, clowning around the house. She said her husband, Chad Smith, called her a wingnut and the moniker kind of stuck.

Smith said she stayed at home when her two children, Joe, now 19, and Jennifer, 28, were growing up. She wondered what she would do when the kids were grown and began researching clowns on the Internet.

There she found Clown Alley, a clown club in Brewer, joined clown forums and eventually started clowning for real about 10 years ago.

Smith sometimes works as a substitute teacher in the Oakland area, but her career path is set — she’s a clown.

“I’m very careful about the clown events that I do because I’m a family clown and I try to keep things clean and fun and appropriate for children,” she said. “Having grown children myself, I want to make sure that parents and children feel safe around me.”

Wingnut is an auguste clown, a character clown with minimal makeup, as opposed to the more garish whiteface or circus clown. Wingnut the Clown is a country girl with a red nose, overalls, pig tails and seven freckles on each cheek. She even has her own blog: wingnugtheclown.blogspot.com.

And she doesn’t scare the children.

“I find that I have the advantage in that I think they sense that I’m a mom,” Smith said. “The fact that I’m a female puts them at ease. I don’t tower over them and I tend to work at child height. I think that there’s not enough smiling going on. I get the very best out of people when I’m clowning.”

Wingnut will meet children and their families, do face painting and twist balloons in the children’s area of the fairgrounds, near the Park Street gate and Constitution Hall. She is there Thursday, opening day of the fair, from 4-5 p.m. and each day during the week of Aug. 13-18 from 3 to 4 p.m.

 

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