All Inductees

D. J. "Kajun Kidd" Gaudin

Dan was born on May 22, 1942, and is a proud graduate of Midway High School in Waco, Texas, where he was actively involved in the Future Farmers of America (FFA), showcasing livestock. Following his high school graduation, he pursued higher education at Southwest Texas State University (SWTSU) in San Marcos, Texas. There, he excelled academically, making the dean’s list, led as president of the FFA chapter, and engaged with the American Range Society and Circle K Club.

In 1964, armed with a degree in Agricultural Education, Dan embarked on a career as a Vocational Agriculture teacher at Round Rock High School in Round Rock, Texas. His commitment to education and agriculture was further solidified with a master’s degree from SWTSU in 1968. Dan’s career took a significant turn in 1970 when he joined the Texas Education Agency, serving as the executive secretary of the Texas Young Farmers Association until 1976. His journey continued at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where he began as an executive assistant to the general manager, eventually becoming the assistant general manager in 1981, and then the general manager in 1984, marking him as only the third individual to hold this position in the show’s history. In November 2001, following organizational by-law changes, he was appointed Vice President/chief operating officer.

Throughout his tenure, Dan was actively involved in numerous agriculture-related associations, taking on leadership roles in organizations such as the International Association of Fairs & Expositions, Texas FFA Foundation, American Livestock Show and Rodeo Managers’ Association, Professional Agriculture Workers of Texas, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, and the Houston Chamber of Commerce. His dedication also extended to Beefmaster Breeders United and the Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association.

Dan’s contributions to the agriculture industry have been recognized with several distinguished service awards. In 2003, after dedicating over 25 years to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, he retired from full-time involvement. Now, he enjoys life in Williamson County with his wife of over 40 years, Karen, a former Home Economics teacher. Together, they are involved in the cattle operation on land that has been continuously run by the Gattis family since 1904. Dan also serves as the county judge in Williamson County. Their two sons, Dan M. and Brent, are both politically active in Texas and Washington, D.C.

D.J. Gaudin, affectionately known as “The Kajun Kidd,” was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on October 28, 1929. As a youth, he honed his horse-breaking skills at the stockyards in Baton Rouge. At sixteen, he ventured out to join the Texas Jay Davis Wild West Show, which toured the southern states from Florida to Texas. His unique name, “The Kajun Kidd,” was coined by a friend, Ted Friese, during a moment when announcers struggled to pronounce his name correctly.

After the Wild West show ran out of funds in Wharton, Texas, Gaudin followed his friend to Dayton, Texas, in search of work and began working as a roughneck in the oil fields of southeast Texas. He also participated in amateur rodeos, competing in bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riding. His transition to working as a bullfighter and clown came after he instinctively aided a fallen bull rider during a performance, eventually joining the Southwestern Rodeo Association (SRA).

In May of 1952, Gaudin turned professional, encouraged by friends and an offer from RCA producer Bobby Estes to hire him for all his rodeos. His first professional rodeo was in Baird, Texas, where he worked about thirty rodeos that year, impressing Estes enough to recommend him to Everett Colburn of Gene Autry and Associates. This recommendation led to Gaudin’s big break, performing at prestigious venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York City, Boston Garden in Massachusetts, and in Detroit, Michigan.

Gaudin was honored to be chosen as the clown and bullfighter at the first two National Finals Rodeos held in Dallas in 1959 and 1960, and again in 1970 in Oklahoma City. After a distinguished 28-year career, he retired in 1979 at the age of forty-nine. His legacy was cemented with his induction into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1979 and the National Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1996.

Gaudin spent 41 years living in Teague, Texas, engaging in ranching and enjoying his retirement, always ready with a witty response to inquiries about his hometown’s location.