.‘There’s nothing like this circus’
Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2010
By RICK BROWN Hub Staff Writer
KEARNEY — When someone wants to know if Lisa Babcock is some kind of a clown, she has the pleasure of answering “Yes.”
To be more precise, she is an “advance clown” for the Carson & Barnes Circus.
“I’m sent out approximately a week ahead of time to get people excited about the circus,” Babcock said.
“Our theme this year is ‘The Red, White and Blue.’ We have a very big spectacular we do with the elephants with the performers coming out wearing red, white and blue.
“It’s really a beautiful thing.”
The Carson & Barnes Circus will perform at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds.
Now in its 74th year, the circus has been in the same family since Kansas showman Obert Miller and his two sons established a circus in 1937.
“It’s been in the family all this time,” Babcock said. “Barbara Miller-Byrd’s grandfather started it 74 years ago, then her father took over. So it’s a big family tradition. And it is for me, too. I’m a second-generation clown. My children grew up in the circus as clowns. And now I have seven grandkids, and I’m turning them in that direction, too.”
Babcock, 54, knows what makes a circus so entertaining.
“It’s live,” she explained. “The entertainers do everything live. Every seat is a good seat. Wherever you sit, you can see everything happen.”
In addition to being live, the Carson & Barnes Circus travels with more than two dozen types of domestic and exotic animals and advertises itself as the “largest traveling zoo.”
“It’s not too often you get to see the exotic animals up close,” Babcock said. “Not only can you see them but we have elephant rides, camel rides and pony rides. You can get closer to the animals than you would in a zoo or another venue.”
The circus also travels with a baby hippopotamus.
“That’s kind of unusual,” Babcock noted. “There’s not too many of those running around, either.”
For Babcock, all of the elements of the performance come into play.
“And then there are the smells of the circus, the smell of the popcorn, the visuals of the lights and, of course, the performers performing their hearts out for everyone — there’s nothing like it anymore,” she said.