2014 Convention



Van Beuren Aesop's Fables Cartoon - Circus Capers (1930)

Published on Jul 11, 2013 One of at least two 1930 Aesop's Fables cartoons that featured a male-and-female couple of mice. The duo's resemblance to Walt Disney's Mickey and Minnie Mouse was too close for comfort, which prompted Disney to take legal action against the Van Beuren Studio.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

King Charles Weathersby was my grandfather.He passed away on April 22, 2014 and a small memorial service will be held on Friday. Any pictures of him in his circus days would be appreciated. on
from the other side of the pond!

JAFFA Shrine Circus 2014 Human Arrow

By Cory Anderson
Published on Apr 6, 2014
Melha Shrine Circus coming to West Springfield

4/26/12 Springfield- Republican Photo by Mark M.Murray-
Peter Sturgis the ringmaster for the Melha Shrine Circus, introduces the next act during the circus preview held in downtown Springfield Thursday afternoon.The Melha Shrine Circus is running thru Sunday at the Big E in West Springfield./foto-Mark M. Murray
By Keith O'Connor / Special to The Republican
April 22, 2014
It’s called the “Circus with a Purpose.”

It’s the Melha Shrine Circus, now celebrating its 60th anniversary, bringing its chills and thrills to “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages” once again at the Coliseum on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield beginning Thursday, May 1.

It’s purpose?

All proceeds are used to support the work of the Melha Shriners in western Massachusetts communities and to spread the word about the orthopedic and other care being provided at Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield.

Ringmaster Peter Sturgis will officiate over the 2014 Melha Shrine Circus – produced by Hamid Circus – with seven unforgettable performances over four days of daring-do and laughs galore with the comedy and breathtaking stunts of Johnny Rocket, juggling genius Shane Hansen, Galaxy Girl and her Diamond Divas, aerial daredevils The Winns, giggles and gags from the Shriner Clowns, tons of fun provided by the Hamid Circus Shrine Elephants, Star Christi’s Alaskan Malamutes, the Hamid Circus Performing Tigers, and many other stylish and stunning acts, including a live circus band led by Larry Rothbard.

“I’m the guy who guides audiences through the show and sets them up for what they are about to see, without giving away too much information because you don’t want to take away the surprise. My job is to also make sure that the acts continue to flow. We don’t want anybody sitting around and getting bored waiting for the next one, although it’s unlikely that you are going to be bored at the circus. But, there are some points in the show that are slower than others, and I work to keep up the audience’s interest at all times,” said Sturgis.

Sturgis said audiences are going to love Johnny Rocket’s stunts.

“He has what we call the Wheel of Destiny, where he walks inside of a cage, similar to what you might see a hamster doing. Then he climbs outside to walk on the wheel and even jumps rope. It’s a very dangerous act,” said Sturgis.

The flashy ringmaster also said audiences will also meet one of the fastest hand-to-hand jugglers in the entertainment industry who has worked at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

“Shane Hansen is very handsome and the ladies especially love him. There’s a lot of variety to his act and Shane juggles balls, clubs, square cubes and finishes with the most dangeious thing to juggle – fire,” said Sturgis.

Looking back over 60 years, Allen G. Zippen, past potentate of the Melha Shriners and circus chairman, said Jack Butterfield “got us into the circus as a fundraiser way back before he was even a Shriner.

“It’s my understanding that Jack and his cousin Teddy Shore, Jr. used to promote the Ice Capades and many other shows like the circus coming into town. We wanted a family-oriented circus, and that’s what we’ve been delivering for 60 years now. The Shrine Circus provides a very comfortable, safe environment for children of all ages, as they say, and there aren’t many of those opportunities today, especially at such a low price,” said Zippen.

“From a financial standpoint, this is the fraternity’s biggest fundraiser. We have separate fundraisers for the hospital, but the monies raised from the circus enable us to get out into the community and bring our story and talk about our Shriners Hospital for Children,” said Zippen.

For those who can’t wait until the circus officially opens at 7 p.m., there will be a special promotion in downtown Springfield on opening day from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Main Street between Boland Way and East Court St. will be shut down as one of the prominent circus acts displays their hijinks in a demonstration of free-style motor cross. Rock 102 will also be on site offering free giveaways.

Last year, circus lovers saw the return of the popular old-fashioned circus parade which had been discontinued in previous years. The new, smaller version returns again this year beginning at The Big E’s Gate 9 and continuing onto the grounds just prior to the first night’s show.
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Zoppé Italian Circus Comes to Chicago

Posted by Editor  
April 17, 2014 
Zoppé, an Italian family circus, returns to Addison Mother’s Day Weekend, May 7 through 11. Join the Zoppé family as they journey to an enchanted world, separate from our modern, accelerated electronic age and celebrate life, circus and family. In the “commedia dell’arte” tradition, the one-ring circus features Giovanni Zoppé as Nino, an old-word, European-style clown, along with captivating international acts under the big top at Caputo’s Fresh Market. Acts from around the world join the Zoppé family in a thrilling Mother’s Day performance. No one is farther than 20 feet from the ring. Adults and children of all ages go back in time and experience the excitement and authenticity of a traditional, family circus with a few modern touches. All performances will be held at 510 West Lake Street (Caputo’s in Addison, IL ). Tickets start at $10. Admission is free for kids 13 and under. For more information go to or call the box office at (773) 255-1467.

Tripoli Shrine Circus Milwaukee 2014

Published on Mar 10, 2014
Trained pig

Uploaded on Sep 3, 2011
CircusFest 2014: Belonging at the Roundhouse

By Booker Woodford
17th April 2014
Playing to a full crowd as part of CircusFest 2014, Belonging is a new production from Graeae, a theatre company that places deaf and disabled artists centre stage.

>Built upon an abstract narrative, the show is episodic. Constructed of the flashbacks of several characters who have been told to say goodbye to a soon-to-be-demolished building that holds much sentimental value.

Director Jenny Sealey has created a brave narrative that attempts to harbour several lofty themes, including love, loss and the passing of time. Regardless of the emphasis placed on their differences, Sealey’s story enthuses a solidarity among its characters, which communicates a powerful message. Challenging the age-old ideal that “we’re all the same” it instead argues that we form an extremely diverse species, that despite our differences humans can still exist in unity. The cast also add good humour to the mix: during a fight scene between two men on suspended hoops – a highlight of the show – one character literally pulls the other’s leg clean off. 

As the characters reflect, we are introduced to their pasts, each compiled of poignant moments and delivered via a blend of circus tricks, dance routines, song and narration. The narration itself is delivered vocally (in English and Spanish) and through sign language, often at the same time, which adds an extra dimension to the production’s presentation.

The play is fraught, fast-paced and unrelenting, supported by a dissident, unnerving musical score, which refuses the audience rest and cleverly diffuses the potential for overwrought sentiment. Belonging does at times feel amateurish and slightly undercooked, and the acting is often flat. The dialogue, although infrequent, is obvious and hackneyed, which in turn hinders some of the play’s successes. A more focused and tighter narrative thread would have surely increased its accomplishments.

That said, although it may not achieve all of its ambitions, the production does provide laughs, beauty and philosophy. When compared to its flaws these are much more significant achievements. Combined with its unique brand of circus theatre, Belonging delivers quite the act.
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Tom Duffy’s Circus brings the thrill of the Big Top to Coleraine

Tom Duffy’s Circus brings the thrill of the Big Top to Coleraine
April 23,2014
Tom Duffy’s Circus makes a long-awaited return visit to the Coleraine area this week.

Ireland’s best loved circus look set to thrill local audiences as they set up their big top at Coleraine Showgrounds for shows from Monday, April 28 to Wednesday, April 30.

Duffy’s is one of the world’s longest-established circuses, amazing family audiences across Ireland over three centuries. The new show blends the traditional and the twenty-first century. Acts enjoyed by generations of circus-goers are brought right up-to-the-minute with a spectacular light show, state of the art sound and expert choreography.

With the glamour of elaborate hand-made costumes, glittering lights and stunning special effects, you’re sure to be astounded by Tom Duffy’s.

Lovers of traditional circus acts will roar with laughter at the antics of the hilarious clowns, David and Raffy, and multi-talented Steven Munoz will perform one of the most complicated juggling sets ever seen in this country. Don’t miss the electrifying sight of this talented artist juggling with fire. Tom Jnr and Jamie Duffy take to the air with a heart-stopping wheel of death – one of the most dangerous acts in modern Circus.

The Kenya Boys are making a welcome return to Northern Ireland, with their astonishing acrobatics, twisting and tumbling, and startling human pyramids. This years Grand Finale sees the first ever Irish visit of Team Loucia – amazing motorcycle skill inside the Globe of Death.

As always, the animal acts are the main draw for regular visitors. In the all-new Canine Review, the loveable giants, the St Bernard dogs, tend to dominate the ring, but it’s the cheeky miniature poodles that raise a smile with their mischief.

An old favourite with every generation, Tom Duffy’s troupe of Minature Shetland Ponies make a welcome return to the ring, with a sparkling display of Jumping and hind-leg walking.

Many fans round off their trip with a visit to the Circus Zoo, where for a small fee you can meet the much-loved animals and see the phenomenal round-the-clock care they receive. Come and get to know Tom Duffy’s extended family in their own living quarters, including some of the show’s biggest stars in their outdoor swimming pool.

Tom Duffy’s Circus will be at Coleraine Showgrounds from Monday 28th April to Wednesday April 30.

No elephants, tigers in Ketchum?
Council shows support for limiting circus acts
April 22nd, 2014 

Ketchum,ID---It might soon be illegal to bring circus elephants, lions and tigers into the city of Ketchum.

Ketchum City Council members voted unanimously on Monday to take the first step in approving an amendment to city code to restrict in city limits the use of exotic and non-domesticated animals in traveling circuses and exhibitions. Council members approved a first reading of the amendment after a presentation in support of the change by five students from the Sage School in Hailey. The council typically adopts new legislation after three public readings.

The five students-symbolically bound together in rope that simulated circus chains-read a prepared statement to the council while a video played showing various species of exotic wildlife being abused by people. One by one, the students made statements that they said were "based on science and fact."

"There's no such thing as a domestic elephant," one said.

"[Baby elephants] are tied down with whips and chains," another said.

The group told the council that lions and tigers in circuses are confined in small cages 99 percent of the time. They said circus elephants-which are sometimes beaten and prodded with heavy bull hooks-live to be an average of 14 years old, while elephants in the wild live to be 70.

The initiative was put forth by Ketchum resident Maya Burrell, who said abuse of circus elephants is not just an issue of ethics, but of public safety. She said many captive elephants develop transmittable tuberculosis and have sometimes killed people in episodes of rage.

Councilman Jim Slanetz said he thinks residents would not be losing anything if the city adopted such a restriction.

"We're not hurting our community by doing this, in any shape or form," he said.

Councilman Baird Gourlay said he believes it is part of city leaders' mission to take a stand on important issues.

"If a small community like ours can't make a statement like this, then why are we elected officials?" he said.

City Attorney Stephanie Bonney noted that the state does a law against animal abuse, which provides for misdemeanor charges for the first two offenses and a felony charge for the third offense. She also noted that the proposed code amendment provides exemptions for camels, bison and llamas, and would not limit rodeos.

The proposed amendment will be reviewed a second time at a future meeting.

County fair vendor faces fine for unsafe rides
By Jessica Morker
Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014,

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Illinois State Fair Announces 2014 Headliners
Among the acclaimed artists featured in the 10-day event are rapper Pitbull, 
country duo Florida Georgia Line and legendary rock band Boston

Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014  
The Illinois State Fair has announced its 2014 lineup, bringing several chart-topping entertainment acts to the grandstand stage.
Among the acclaimed artists featured in the 10-day event are rapper Pitbull, country duo Florida Georgia Line and legendary rock band Boston.
Also performing at the event will be American Idol finalists, the Million Dollar Quartet, Steely Dan, and country singers Hunter Hayes and Jake Owen.
Last year, approximately 961,142 people attended the Springfield-based fair, up 5 percent from 2012. The number marked the fair's highest attendance since 2002, when 1.2 million people entered the gates.
Gov. Pat Quinn attributed the spike in attendance to the Grandstand music entertainment, which set a record for highest ticket sales in fair history at $2.03 million.

Toby Keith was the most popular act with 9,367 tickets sold, surpassing Styx and REO Speedwagon by 144 tickets. The Associated Press reported last week that Keith was also one of the highest paid acts. He was among the three top performers who made $300,000 for his performance at the fair along with Journey and John Mayer.
Quinn, a fan of Keith's, proclaimed Aug. 14 as officially Toby Keith Day in the state of Illinois.
"Illinois is a leader in supporting the arts, and has always been an important component of the artistic fabric of our state," Quinn said.
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2014 Big E to Celebrate NY World’s Fair

(Photo Courtesy: Jordan Zolan)
April 22,2014

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — New England’s largest fair is set to pay homage to one of the world’s most iconic fairs this fall.

Officials with Eastern States Exposition announced Tuesday that this year’s Big E will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair.

The special exhibit, which will be housed in the Young Building, will feature a large collection of Ford’s World’s Fair memorabilia, including a scale model of the Ford Pavilion and an authentic 1965 Mustang.
April 22nd, 2014

In total, over 250 artifacts and souvenirs are expected to be on-display.

The centerpiece of the exhibit will be a seven foot tall recreation of the “Unisphere” globe, which was an iconic symbol of the World’s Fair and still stands in Queens, New York.

The 2014 Big E is scheduled from September 12 to 28, 2014 on the Eastern States Exposition fairgrounds in West Springfield.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

World's Fair 1939 presented vision of 'World of Tomorrow,' with ominous signs of impending war
Those lucky enough to attend the World's Fairs in '39 and '64 say the earlier event was more memorable, since it gave a very real impression of what lay ahead in a world torn apart by conflict.

The 1939 World’s Fair's 700-foot Trylon obelisk and 18-story Perisphere were given over to the war effort after the fair.
April 17, 2014
The 1939 World’s Fair, which played out over 18 months on the former site of the Corona dumps, symbolized the new age that would rise from the Great Depression, an idea embodied by the fair’s iconic 700-foot Trylon obelisk and 18-story Perisphere structure.
The fair, which celebrates its 75th anniversary on April 30 — introduced the world to a host of futuristic inventions including television, the superhighway and even the fax machine.
But by the time the fair closed, in October 1940, the 40 million tons of steel from the Trylon and Perisphere would have to be given over to the war effort.
More than 44 million visitors flocked to the 1,200-acre site that living witnesses and souvenir collectors still recall with awe today.
As the Nazis began their spread across Europe, the war vied for headlines with frequent police raids on the fair’s nudie shows and a July 4, 1940, bombing that killed two city detectives.
Critics assailed the New York World’s Fair Corp. for the event’s high cost, but the 1939 fair could well be remembered long after the more widely celebrated 1964 Fair fades from consciousness.

The 1939 event had plenty of spectacle, like these elephants.
“Historically, the 1939 fair was more famous,” said Pierre Montiel, a historian and lecturer who will present a collection of photos of the ’39 fair at the Queens Historical Society on June 22. “It’s historic because it was the turning point of the 20th century.”
The fair became the bailiwick of publicity hound Grover Whalen, the president of the fair corporation, and city parks overlord Robert Moses.
The two pitched it as a fulcrum to help lift the city out of its economic doldrums and clean up a notorious dump strewn with stinking piles of garbage as tall as 15 stories high, said James Mauro, author of the 2010 book, “Twilight at the World of Tomorrow.”
Mauro estimates the fair’s $160 million cost translates to $2.3 billion today, a princely sum that city leaders never could have afforded on their own.
“The thinking was that if you had a world’s fair, you’d get state money and federal money to pay for it,” said Mauro. “And that’s when people really came around to it.”
The fair opened with a speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which NBC teamed with RCA to beam across the city in the first large-scale display of television.
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Circus life hard to top for Silvers Circus ringmaster Simon Tait

10/4/14. Silvers Circus - Ringmaster and Illusionist Simon Tait Pic Keryn Stevens Source: News Limited
APRIL 17, 2014 
WHEN Simon Tait ran away to join the circus­, he expected it to be a short stop on the way to an acting career.

But the then 21-year-old university drama student soon discovered life under the big top was his true calling.

“We’d been doing a lot of mime in the course and I saw an American clown at a circus incorporating mime into his act,” Tait explains.

“I thought what a wonderful way to increase my acting ability and experience a bit of life and travel before embarking on a fully-fledged acting career.

“But I just fell in love with the circus.”

When the circus comes to town.
 Picture: Keryn Stevens. Source: News Limited

TELL US BELOW: What is the best circus act you’ve ever seen?

Now 53, Tait is a circus veteran and will be running proceedings for Silvers Circus throughout its month-long Bonython Park season.

The master of grand illusions will command the ring, overseeing highwire acts, motorbike stuntmen, acrobats and an Argentinian hula hoop artist who spins up to 100 hoops at once.

Tait says Silvers stands out from other circuses because it is sophisticated and designed to impress adults as well as children.

“I find it a bit embarrassing to say I’m working and that it’s a job,” he says.

“I’m just having fun play acting and having the time of my life. Every night I let that inner child escape and run riot and I try and inspire the inner child within every member of the audience to come out.”

Tait left the circus briefly but running a small business did not compare with working in the circus.

“I ran away for a couple­ of years and tried my hand at running a takeaway shop,” Tait says.

“If anyone is interested in that – don’t do it.”

He says being part of a close-knit circus family, living in a mobile home and constantly discovering­ new places makes for an interesting­ life.

Fireworks, circus, and racing monkeys - Hudson Valley Fair returns

A 130-foot Giant Wheel is featured at the Hudson Valley Fair. / Courtesy photo
 By Suzy Berkowitz
Apr. 16, 2014  
FISHKILL — This weekend marks the return of a family favorite — the Hudson Valley Fair.

Back for a sixth year, the annual spring event at Dutchess Stadium is set to open on Friday. It will run on weekends through May 4.

Rob Weber, the fair manager, said he and his fellow organizers spend the year putting the event together.

“We want people to come to the fair every day and every weekend and not have to save up to be able to come once,” Weber said. “We want to find the best forms of entertainment and present the best event possible. We want people to make memories.”

This year’s entertainment will include fireworks, a circus, a family of trapeze artists, a petting zoo, amusement rides, camel and pony rides, and for the first time, the Banana Derby.

The Banana Derby is a race where monkeys dressed in jockey outfits race trained dogs around a track. Courtesy photo
The Banana Derby involves three monkeys in jockey costumes atop three dogs, racing around a track. The Banana Derby’s Monkey’s Butler, Phillip Hendricks, said he is excited to finally travel up to the Hudson Valley after pedaling his act at state fairs and similar venues around the country. Weber said the Banana Derby is an event he has been trying to book for years.

“I enjoy going to different parts of the country and meeting different people,” Hendricks said. “Everywhere I go, people smile and laugh at me. People like seeing moneys up close and personal and I’m still amazed by how excited people are to see them. A lot of people have never had a chance to interact with a monkey before. After the races, we give people the opportunity to take a picture with the monkeys.”
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Arena home to circus two nights in May
Circus tickets go on sale Friday; tickets for Gaither Vocal Band now on sale
From:The Times-Tribune
By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
April 16, 2014
CORBIN — It’s been said everyone loves a circus. With that being said, “The Greatest Show on Earth” is coming to Corbin next month.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will present their life-size Super Circus Heroes at the Corbin Arena for two nights — on Tuesday, May 27 and Wednesday, May 28.

The performances will start at 7 p.m. both nights.

The circus promises to be filled with “superhuman athleticism, power and pageantry that will have children of all ages discovering their own superhuman strength.” It will also feature “Amazing Asian elephants, horses, camels and more, alongside astonishing acrobats, awe-inspiring aerialists and some over-the-top clowns that will have audience in stitches…of laughter, of course.”

In addition, Ringling Bros will offer real face-time with the performers, starting at the interactive “All Access Pre-Show,” which will take place on the Corbin Arena floor one hour before the show starts. The pre-show is free to all ticket holders.
Tickets for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Super Circus Heroes will go on sale this Friday.

The tickets start at $20, with all seats reserved. They’re available by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. If you need group rates or other information, you can contact the Corbin Arena Box Office.

The Corbin Arena will also be the site of “An Evening with the Gaither Vocal Band,” which will take place Friday, June 13 at 7 p.m.

The inspiring evening of entrainment and music will feature Bill Gaither, Wes Hampton, David Phelps, Adam Crabb and Todd Suttles, along with special guests to be announced onstage.

Last month, Corbin Arena officials announced the Gaither Tour would make a return visit, adding the tour was one of most requested acts to play at the facility.

A special pre-sale of tickets for the Gaither Vocal Band concert was held last Friday at 10 a.m. Tickets went on sale to the public Monday morning, and can be also be purchased at the Corbin Arena Ticket Office and all Ticketmaster locations, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or at

If you need more information about the Gaither Tour, or Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents Super Circus Heroes, call the Corbin Arena at (606) 258-2020, email them at, or visit their website at - See more at:
Circus Flora brings the game of chess to life with “The Pawn”

The Flying Wallendas return to Circus Flora in “The Pawn”
By: Sheila Frayne Rhoades
Every year Circus Flora presents St. Louis with a great performance captured within a story.  This year is no exception. The 2014 production, entitled “The Pawn,” literally brings the game of chess to life. It’s a clever basis for a circus theme.

The show’s storyline is based on the history of chess, steeped in the myths of Persia and India.  Circus Flora performers take audiences on a journey back in time to these ancient lands where the game began. The entire cast transforms themselves into chess pieces, wearing elaborate masks and dressing in geometric costumes.

With true Circus Flora flair, the pawn (a clown) confronts an imaginative world of curious creatures. Those creatures include knights mounted on steeds (horse and camel riders), rooks tumbling across a checkered board and other chess pieces soaring through the air.

The World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis partnered with Circus Flora in developing the exciting new show.

Jack Marsh, artist director of Circus Flora, explained the chess theme choice.

“When we first viewed the ‘Chess Masterpieces’ exhibition at the WCHOF, we were struck by numerous dramatic possibilities,” he said. “Chess artfully blends the physical elements of battle with mental acumen.

“This blend of performance and strategy resonated with us as circus artists and became the inspiration for this year’s production. Through working with our terrific partners at WCHOF, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, we learned more about the rich history of the game and how we can best use circus to interpret the vast world of chess.”

Susan Barrett, WCHOF executive director, was equally enthusiastic.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Circus Flora using chess as the inspiration for their 2014 show.,” she said. “Our mission is to explore the creativity that art and chess share.

“We truly believe these performances will expose the fun and excitement of chess to new audiences.”

Beyond the on-stage collaboration, the WCHOF features displays of artifacts from the permanent collection, and temporary exhibitions highlighting the great players, historic games, and rich cultural history of chess. It is the only institution of its kind to explore the dynamic relationship between art and chess.

Founded in 1984, it is run by the United States Chess Trust, a charitable arm of the United States Chess Federation. Formerly located in New York, Washington D.C., and Florida, it relocated to Saint Louis’ Central West End in September, 2011. Saint Louis is now known as the Chess Capital of the U.S. and labeled as one of the top chess cities in the world.

“The Pawn” runs May 29 – June 22 under the big top next to Powell Hall.  Call 314-289-4040 or visit for tickets and more information.