Saturday, August 14, 2010
Tigers, elephants, clowns, the Ponce family on flying trapeze and other thrill acts will all be waiting under the Big Top Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 16 and 17 when the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars comes to Rio Grande.
The show will go on 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. both days at the Robert “Ockie” Wisting Recreation Complex on Fulling Mill Road near the intersection of Route 47. The circus show involves more than a hundred animals and performers.
The fun begins with a tent raising 8-10 a.m. Friday that is free to all.
For animal lovers, the show features Asian elephants along with Jason and Jennifer Herriott Walker’s royal Bengal tigers, camels, zebras, llamas, ponies and dogs.
Daredevil performers include Guatemala’s Angels of the Air – flying trapeze artists who vault high overhead to perform spine-tingling routines. Clown escapades courtesy of the Bermuda Troupe take place below throughout the performance.
Other billings include Equilibristic Marvel Lana doing a one-finger stand and a human cannonball who flies across the Big Top at a speed of 65 miles per hour. The circus concludes with freestyle motor show featuring daredevil riders in topsy-turvy ATVs who brave the splitting “Globe of Death.”
General admission tickets are $12 in advance or $17 at the gate for adults; upgrades are available for $3 and $5. Free tickets for children under 13 are available at www.FreeKids Tickets.com.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
"This is what America is all about families, friends, fun and a fair," said Holly Smyczynski, senior marketing co-coordinator of the Erie County Fair. It's about a 20-minute drive from the Niagara border. And what a great fair it is. Having visited the fair before, I know I'll need more than a day to cover the 171st annual event which runs between Aug. 11 and 22.
By DAN TAYLOR, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Erica Hause loves living on a mile-long circus train, criss-crossing the country, but it's still nice to see friends and family.
Now in her third year with the Flying Caceres trapeze act and on her second tour with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Hause is glad to be back home in Northern California for a little while.
A former Santa Rosan, she'll appear — along with 130 other performers in “The Greatest Show on Earth” — through Sunday at Oakland's Oracle Arena and next week at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
“Most people ask how my family feels about my running away with the circus,” she joked. “My family is very proud of me, and very supportive of what I'm doing.”
Hause doesn't come from a circus family. Her father, Les, is a retired postal worker. Her mother, Linda, is a teacher's aide at Analy High School in Sebastopol. And her brother, Ross, teaches at Burbank Elementary School in Santa Rosa.
Hause got interested in trapeze while pole-vaulting at Montgomery High School, where she graduated in 1995.
“Pole vaulting translates over to trapeze really well, especially because I'm not really fast on the track,” she said. “So trapeze is a whole let better for me, because I don't have to run first. I just climb a ladder.”
Before she joined the circus, Hause taught trapeze skills at schools in San Diego and at the facility founded by author Sam Keen in Sonoma.
“I've been flying on trapeze for 10 years, first for recreation and then teaching,” she said.
Ultimately, she auditioned for the circus and got the job. Now, at 33, Hause has no intention of giving up the circus life.
“I plan to do trapeze as long as my arms are still attached to my torso,” she said.
While Hause spends much of the act throwing trapeze bars across to members of the troupe standing at other platforms, she also gets to fly a bit early in the show, and she enjoys being part of the circus.
“My most favorite thing is riding the circus train. I can't think of any other situation where a person can live on the train and move from city to city. We're in a new city almost every week,” she said.
“We have this family atmosphere, with all these people from different countries, speaking different languages. It's the most amazing life.”
This year, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is celebrating the 200th anniversary of co-founder P.T. Barnum. The circus performs in arenas now, not in old-fashioned tents, but a lot of the long and colorful history persists.
For example, when it's mealtime on the circus train, Hause doesn't go to a “dining car.”
“It's traditionally been called the pie car. That's our food car, where you can go and get a bite to eat during the train run. It's circus lingo,” she said.
“There are a lot of circus traditions. You have to watch out for those clowns on your birthday, or you might get a pie in the face.”
read the rest of the story at:http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100811/ENTERTAINMENT/100809571/1320/entertainment?Title=Raised-in-Santa-Rosa-she-ran-away-with-the-circus
UNDER THE BIG TOP
What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Barnum's Funundrum.
”When and where: 7:30 tonight (Aug. 13); 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 14); 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 15) at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 18) through Aug. 20; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Aug. 21-22 at HP Pavilion in San Jose.Admission: $15-$105.Tickets: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.
THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CIRCUS
BUT I THOUGHT IT WAS A QUITE INTERESTING LOOKAT SOCIAL LIFE IN MEXICO!
InTheYucatan: Tuesday Night Dancing in Santiago, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. When the cool evening air rolls into Santiago Square, so do the people ..
It was a carnival like atmosphere in Barrio San Sebastian on Saturday night. The Ferris Wheel was spinning, the corn-on-the-cob was hot, and the Bull was shooting fireworks off it's back...?! Watch and enjoy~!
This time, on the evening of Aug. 20, the Sarasota resident and his wife Erendira will attempt a swaypole act in St. Armands Circle at a still bone-sloshing height of 75 feet. From a cable stretching 25 feet between a pair of flagpoles in Circle Park, the performance artists hope to complete a series of mid-air maneuvers that includes handstands and an exchange of positions.The occasion is a Discovery Channel documentary production, which will follow the couple to The Bahamas two days later. That's where Wallenda intends to break his own world record for highest bicycle ride, at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island.
“I plan to ride between the two towers at 270 feet up,” Wallenda says. “That will more than double my previous height.”
He also hopes to complete a record-setting skywalk — 2,000 feet across — during his stay at Atlantis.
The 31-year-old heir to the legendary circus dynasty says the Discovery Channel is producing a pilot for an ongoing series about Wallenda's showmanship.
“It's really exciting,” he says. “I've got 14 stunts planned that I can't even talk about because they're so crazy. And it's not per se a reality show. I'd say about 50 to 60 percent of it goes into the science behind what we do.”
The Aug. 20 public performance begins at 6 p.m. and will likely last several hours to accommodate the shooting schedule. Afterwards, Wallenda will sign posters for anyone donating to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Pricey cables stolen from New Hanover carnival
NEW HANOVER — Police are currently investigating a theft of power cables that occurred during the Sassamansville Fire Company Carnival over the weekend.
Police said power cables were discovered missing from the carnival when personnel arrived on Saturday evening to open for business along Hoffmansville Road.
Officer William Moyer said the power cables were from the generator used to power the amusement rides and concession stands.
"They had been cut and removed from each of the rides and concession stands that were in place on the grounds," Moyer said. "The cables belong to Oscars Amusements and the concession owners." The carnival rides are owned by Oscars Amusements and the concessions are owned by either Otts Concessions or MJM Concessions.
More than 1,500 feet of heavy power cables were stolen, valued at $5,400. No items owned by the fire company were stolen.
Moyer said police are investigating other carnivals in the area to see if any similar incidents have happened to them.
"There were two other carnivals going on at the same time and nothing else has been reported," he said.
"Cables like this could be sold for scrap copper," he explained.
Anyone with information on the theft of the cables should contact New Hanover Township Police Department at 610-327-1150.
Be on the look out for them appearing at a Fair near you!
By Carly Wilkie Steven -- 11th August 2010
Kelly Brook is apparently an ardent fan and supermodel Helena Christensen has claimed that it’s 'like nothing I have ever tried before’.So after several days of gastronomic indulgence, the prospect of trying out the same class that keeps two such well-toned specimens of physical perfection in top form was appealing.I should have realised, however, that you don’t acquire the body of a goddess without some very earthly effort.I’m talking about Jukari. It’s the latest workout collaboration between Reebok and Cirque Du Soleil and, as I was in Montreal for the inauguration of what will become an annual circus festival - Montreal Completement Cirque – it seemed a great way of experiencing in an hour what the circus artists subject themselves to on a daily and nightly basis
And it’s seriously tough. Our instructor, who, it turns out, is a former Olympic-medal-winning speed skater, tells us that she has never found another fitness class that delivers such a muscular workout.Given that I wake up the next morning practically unable to get out of bed, I’d say that she’s probably right.Aching limbs aside, if you’re interested in circus - or, in fact, any form of physical theatre or modern dance - then Montreal is the place for you.It even has its own circus district - La Cité Des Arts Du Cirque – home to the Cirque Du Soleil headquarters, the National Circus School and La Tohu, one of the largest venues for circus production and performance in the world.The three organisations work together closely and all have contributed in one way or another to the creation of the new festival.
Big business: Cirque Du Soleil now employs 4000 people worldwide
Central to the ethos that has driven this initiative - and seems to permeate every aspect of its execution - is the notion that circus can, and should, break free from traditional definitions and challenge preconceptions.Nowhere is this more evident than in ID. Performed by a young troupe called Cirque Eloize, this show incorporates ten different circus disciplines and combines them with hip-hop, break-dancing, BMX bikes and fiber-optic skipping ropes.The pace is frenetic and relentless and the super-smart set and funky soundtrack help make this, for me at least, the stand-out show of the festival.I am also able to catch Tabú by Welsh company NoFitState; Cabaret by Les 7 Doigts De La Main; and, of course, Cirque du Soleil’s own Totum.The latter, inevitably, is in a different league in terms of production value.
Central to the ethos that has driven this initiative - and seems to permeate every aspect of its execution - is the notion that circus can, and should, break free from traditional definitions and challenge preconceptions.Nowhere is this more evident than in ID. Performed by a young troupe called Cirque Eloize, this show incorporates ten different circus disciplines and combines them with hip-hop, break-dancing, BMX bikes and fiber-optic skipping ropes.The pace is frenetic and relentless and the super-smart set and funky soundtrack help make this, for me at least, the stand-out show of the festival.I am also able to catch Tabú by Welsh company NoFitState; Cabaret by Les 7 Doigts De La Main; and, of course, Cirque du Soleil’s own Totum.The latter, inevitably, is in a different league in terms of production value.Sitting in the vast, deceptively low-tech blue-and-yellow big top, in which the Cirque spectacles are typically held, it is difficult to get a sense of this detail.A temporary exhibition of costumes at the McCord Museum Of Canadian History allows visitors to get a behind-the-scenes look at the steps involved in costume production, as well as the chance to gawp at the astonishingly realised end creations.Aside from the glitter and feats of aerial derring-do, Montreal offers a wealth of attractions of a less elevated nature.This is a French-speaking city; where 70-75 per cent of the population use French as their first language. In fact, Canada’s second largest city (after Toronto) has a decidedly European flavour.The name derives from Mount Royal, or 'mont real' – the hill at its centre, upon which Frederick Law Olmstead created his famous park in 1876.From here you can enjoy postcard-perfect views of the city, taking in the botanical gardens, the 1976 Olympic Stadium (with its disaster-prone and as-yet non-functioning retractable roof) and a few of the remaining pavilions from Expo 67.
Read more at:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1298741/Amazing-Montreal-Canadas-second-city-offers-ultimate-Cirque-Du-Soleil-experience.html#ixzz0wK9sSddJ
"I think it went really well," said Bonnie Dusek, who served as circus coordinator for the club. "I thought it was a good show. They had a lot of new acts."
The circus presented two shows July 30, and Dusek said that while the first one had some vacant seats, the second was "packed."
"It usually is busier. I mean, last year it was standing room," she said.
Dusek said the proceeds and bills are still being added up, but she feels confident that the club's net profit will be about $3,000, coming at least close to 2009's record-breaking amount of about $3,100. Dusek said the circus is the club's biggest fundraiser of the year and it uses the money to aid local causes, mainly those involving children.
"I don't know what it will all be used for, but it will stay in the community," she said.
Dusek said the club uses some of the money to provide $500 scholarships to two Nordonia High School graduates every year and typically helps the Emergency Assistance Center in Northfield Village. The club also pays the way for two local students to attend a Kiwanis leadership camp in the spring.
On occasion, she said, the club will also help a specific child in need, such as by purchasing eyeglasses.
In addition, she said some area businesses every year purchase tickets, then donate them back to the club, which distributes them to people who could not otherwise attend. About 10 tickets were given to Elmcroft of Sagamore Hills for senior residents.
Dusek said that last year she discovered that a woman living near the park, who allows a line to run across her property every year to supply the circus with water, operates a day care center for low income children. She said that she was able to give the woman 15 tickets.
"This year, I gave her 29 tickets so 29 kids got to go to the circus who probably wouldn't have been able to otherwise," said Dusek.
Dusek said that as in years past, the circus would not have been possible without the cooperation of township officials.
"They're very good"
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Walking with lions is a fast action pack show with 11 lions and featuring a White Lion, Lufuno. Trained by Brian McMillan with his affection training methods and positive reinforcement. He is the lion whisperer. Either a girl or a man can present the show. Completely permitted for international travel. Self contained with all props and trailer.
Female Clowns Flourish At Circus Smirkus
But clowning remains a male-dominated field. Lots of male clowns dress as women. Barry Lubin became famous for his character "Grandma the Clown." But wipe off the white make up, take off the big nose and shoes, and most of the clowns making people laugh between acrobatic and animal acts are men.
That's not the case this summer at Circus Smirkus, Vermont's touring youth circus.
(Clown) "I take the bait and then I give it to her and then she gives it back..."
(Lindholm) Earlier this summer in Greensboro, the Circus Smirkus clowns practiced a gag where two characters are bested by a Sasquatch for their upcoming Big Top Tour.
(Lindholm) As the group crafted the scene for maximum laughs, a careful observer might have noticed that this clown troupe looks a little different than most. Nearly half of the performers are girls. At eighteen years old, Frances Tiffin is one of the senior clowns in "Clown Alley" this year, Circus Smirkus's group of clowns.
(Tiffin) "There are not very many girl clowns. And there is a kind of, not discrimination but...if you tell a circus person that you're a clown they'll go "oh, girl clown, cool." And I'm like, yes, there haven't been a lot of girl clowns but I don't see the relevance in why that's important to me being funny. I don't want to be the "girl clown" because funny is funny."
(Lindholm) Tiffin began her circus career three years ago, thinking she would be an aerialist. But a shoulder injury brought her back down to earth, and led her into clown alley. Tiffin says initially she didn't think she was funny, but now clowning around is her life.read more:http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/88613/
The 63rd annual fair did just that — barely — Saturday when 20,758 people came through the gates on the final day of the seven-day fair. That brought the total attendance for the week to 179,109, which is 22 people more than last year's 179,087.
Fair board members attribute dry weather throughout the week for setting another record. A total of 52,369 people visited the fair on the last two days, pushing the count over the top.
"Friday's and Saturday's weather is what made the difference," Stan Diroff, head of the parade and grandstand shows and a board member for more than 20 years, said Sunday.
It rained just one day — on Wednesday when it sprinkled during the early afternoon. The 2009 fair had a downpour on only one day — Saturday, which reduced attendance that day to 13,904. In fact, there has been little or no rain at the fair for the past four years, shattering the myth that it "always rains during fair week."read more at:http://www.monroenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100809/NEWS01/708099997
Clay County Fair was named 1 of ‘10 Great Places for Blue-Ribbon County Fairs' in USA Today.
In the Travel section of the August 6th edition, the story focused on 10 fairs that feature unique and historical aspects of the traditional county fair.
Other fairs featured in the article include Tillamook County Fair in Oregon, Chautauqua County Fair in New York, Vernon County Fair in Wisconsin, Adams Agricultural Fair in Massachusetts, Elberton 12-County Fair in Georgia, Johnson County Fair & Rodeo in Wyoming, Merced County Fair in California, Deltana Fair in Alaska and Fayette County Free Fair in Indiana.
The 2010 Clay County Fair runs September 11-19. For more information visit www.claycountyfair.com or call 712-262-4740.
Northwestern Michigan Fair Celebrates its 102nd Year
Posted: 8/8/2010-- Benzie, Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties have come together for the area's largest summer fair.
The 102nd Annual Northwestern Michigan Fair kicked off this weekend just south of Traverse City.
The three county fair will run through Saturday and has a schedule full of events including professional FMX freestyle motorcycle shows and Tough Trucks stunt shows.
Today's events focused on the 4-H Club as the day's schedule consisted of rabbit and goat shows with dozens of different animals on show for the public.
County fairs are known for the shows and the rides but the Northwestern Fair has a bit of a different agenda.
The carnival rides and games will officially open tomorrow evening at 5 PM.
Rhonda's View Rendezvous:
Old-Fashioned Big Top Circus Coming
Published: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
SIDNEY – The last day for low-priced advanced tickets to an old-fashioned big top circus on Aug. 11 is today, according to circus sponsor Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce. The circus is slated for two performances, 5 and 7:30 p.m., in Legion Park near the T-ball fields.
The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, a one-ring, big top venue, has been featured on National Geographic’s “Explorer TV” series, “Entertainment Tonight”, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Arizona Highways magazine. Most recently, a Nickelodeon special on “Nick News Program” featured the circus, that has also been featured on the A&E Special: “Under the Big Top”.
Between 9:30 and 10 a.m., the circus welcomes bystanders to watch the raising of the Big Top, and will offer a free tour. Facts about performers, the history of the show and different species of animals will be discussed on the tour.
“In this presentation, we will also address topics such as hygiene, grooming and the veterinary care all of our animals receive,” the circus stated in a press release.
On circus day, performers bring the magic of the circus to life in each 90-minute show. This year’s lineup includes an all-star group of performers and entertainers. Advance tickets, offered at a lower price than same day at-gate tickets, are available at any Cheyenne County bank, The Hangar in Gurley, The Coffee Corner, The Insurance Store and the chamber office.
For more information, contact the chamber at 308-254-5851.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Horseheads - As the 168th Chemung County Fair comes to an end, officials say this year was one of the best attended fairs.
Date published: 8/9/2010 By KELLY HANNON
Sunny skies and a new emphasis on local music, animals and children's activities drew more people to the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair this summer than last year, said fair organizers.
As the 10-day fair drew to a close yesterday, attendance was up 25 percent overall from 2009, said Travis Bullock, general manager of the fair.
The higher turnout had a snowball effect. As people visited early in the fair's calendar, they mentioned the visit to others, increasing interest, Bullock said.
"They're going back and talking in the community and spreading the word we have new, family events," Bullock said.
Parker Bethem of Fredericksburg feeds a camel on closing day at the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair.
Yesterday, reflecting on the past 10 days, fair President Bennie Brooks Jr. said he was proud the event showcased one of the fair's original purposes, agriculture, this summer.
"A few years ago we had three cattle in the barn, and this year we had 14 in just one show," Brooks said.
Other highlights were musical stage entertainment and Nojoe's Clown Circus. "He was packed every show," Brooks said. Organizers have already inquired about having Nojoe return next year.
A visit from Miss America Caressa Cameron, a graduate of Massaponax High School in Spotsylvania County, drew visitors, as did the new fair pageant categories and new food vendors from the community, Bullock said.
Katie DeBernard, 11, enjoys the Scrambler ride at the Fredericksburg Fair yesterday, the event's last day.
But Brooks was pleased to see so many "young people" at the fair this summer.
"It's coming back to life," Brooks said.
Family activities drew Vadene Latino of Spotsylvania to the fair with her 1-year-old grandson. "I like the fact they have a lot of kids' rides for the grandbaby," Latino said.
Others in her family were drawn in by fair food. "My husband comes every year for the Italian sausage. That's the biggest reason he comes," Latino said.
Taylor Hill, 15, and Kathleen Jimenez, 15, both of Fredericksburg, shared a cup of water after finishing the Viper ride, which they enjoyed but which they said made them dizzy. Jimenez took pictures of a live camel ride.
It was the first time either could remember going to the fair in years, Hill said.
They decided to check it out on the last day.
"Why not? We'll enjoy ourselves," Jimenez said.
Nancy Brothers of Stafford County watched granddaughter Anya, 3, whirl around on a carousel-like children's ride.
The only thing she'd change about the fair is something that's out of its control--the weather.
"I wish it wasn't so hot!" Brothers said.
Read originial ==>> Fredericksburg.com - Fair enjoys higher turnout this year http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2010/082010/08092010/567245#ixzz0w7eRxbzV
Born and raised in the circus, Darlene Williams has performed with wild animals and wild people under the Big Top since the age of four.
Elephants have always played an integral part in her life because of her father, Rex Williams, the number one elephant trainer in the country (Most famous elephant keeper and trainer by EEKMA members).He kept her busy learning about not only elephants but also lions, tigers and horses. At seven, she began training for circus aerial acts.
Her mother Ava Williams, a fourth-generation Czech aerialist, taught her Spanish web, trapeze, and wire walking. Darlene has performed with Ringling Brothers, Circus Vargas, and numerous other shows throughout the world. She continued to work in the circus until she was 20. She then came off the road to pursue a college degree and later moved on to work as a stunt woman in television, feature films, and commercials.
Besides her circus and aerial skills, she has worked with some of Hollywood's finest stunt men and directors including Tim Burton, Michael Mann, Ang Lee, Ron Howard to name a few. Darlene's love of live performing continues with her resent contributions to live shows such as Las Vegas' The Sirens Of TI, where she trained and choreographed the aerial and bull whip portions of the show. Darlene helped train the young and adult actors for the wire work stunts in the Cat in the Hat and was one of the circus advisors to Big Fish. She trained Reese Witherspoon in the upcoming Water for Elephants.
Darlene completed 67 episodes as Pamela Anderson's stunt double in VIP and has coordinated projects such as The John Henson Project (Nun Fights); LIT -music video; and episodes of The Big Moment.
She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and also served on the Academy's very first Stunt Peer Group Executive Committee. She is a board member of the Stuntwomen's Foundation (charity) and is one of the founding members of V10 Women Stunt Professionals an elite organization of professional stunt women.
August 07. 2010
Francis X. Donnelly / The Detroit News
The Michigan State Fair, the first of its kind in the United States, now has a more dubious distinction -- the first to go out of business. During a time of year when final preparations are usually being made for the fair, exhibitors and customers are struggling to deal with the loss of a staple of rural life for 160 years.
For country folk, it's one more sign that their way of life is vanishing.
"It's hard to think of Michigan without a state fair," said Alma Fisher, 78, a Marine City farm girl who was queen of the 1950 fair. "It was fun just to be there, to be part of it all."
For city children, it offered a rare glimpse of farm animals. Many kids are more familiar with exotic zoo animals than ones that figure prominently in their diet and country's history.
For both urban and rural Michigan, the closing means a loss of community.
The fair brought people from all over the state to Detroit, supporters said. City and country dwellers rarely mingle in Michigan, but they did every August at Eight Mile and Woodward.
"It was like the whole state would come together," said Mike Turner, 47, an architecture draftsman from Dearborn.
The fair reminded him of childhood summers at his grandfather's farm in Tennessee, where he chased cattle, mended fences and picked blackberries for cobbler.
Jennifer and Kevin Koski of Sturgis own two food concession stands at the Ohio State Fair, one of 47 states still having a statewide fair
Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe performed in 1951. Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye appeared in 1964. The Supremes and Four Tops came a year later.
But then families began to find entertainment elsewhere.
Attendance began to fall after peaking at 1.2 million in 1966. Just 200,000 attended last year.
The $5 million enterprise began losing money, which was covered by the state. But Gov. Jennifer Granholm, facing a $1.6 billion deficit in the state budget, eliminated the state support last year.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100807/METRO/8070371/Michiganians-struggle-with-loss-of-state-fair#ixzz0vznvSsMs
OAKLAND -- California is still battling with the aftermath of the economic crisis, but at least the circus is still hiring.
Fourteen applicants took the unique chance last Tuesday to show up for a clown audition at the San Francisco Circus Center.
The auditions were held by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, now in its 140th season.
At the beginning of the auditions, two circus clowns performed a short sketch to loosen up the applicants. The attendees then participated in a 1½ hour clowning workshop, where they practiced miming emotions and tested their improvisation skills. Finally, the 14 clowning hopefuls had to do their own three-minute performances. Some just choose to tell jokes, others did acrobatics or juggling -- a woman was even stilt walking.
Barnum & Bailey will decide by the end of August whether it will hire any of the applicants, of whom five have been singled out for meetings with the circus management.
The circus will be performing at the Oracle Arena in Oakland Aug. 11-15. Two of the clowns in the show were hired at the circus' last year's West Coast audition.
The production was originally slated for Sept. 9-Oct. 5 but has been extended by 24 performances and will now end Oct. 24. Tickets for the added shows went on sale Sunday. Cirque du Soleil productions are sometimes extended based on audience demand, and the company's scheduling accounts for the possibility.
"The show is being very well received across the country," said Aba Bonney Kwawu, who manages Cirque's public relations for local performances. "Some of the feedback we are receiving is that 'Ovo' has been family friendly."
The State Fair creatures have awakened.
Golf carts buzz by. Neon beer signs flicker. And on the main road through the Iowa State Fairgrounds, Patrick Martin sells corn dogs for $4. Jumbo-size costs $1 more.
"I'm loving this weather," said Martin, 40, a Texan who has sold fair food nationwide since he was 12.
All around him, the final preparations are being made to accommodate a million visitors who will snack, gawk and people-watch at the fair, which opens Thursday and runs through Aug. 22. "It's almost like a garden that starts to grow and bloom," said Lori Chappell, a fair spokeswoman. "It's really fun to see it come together because we work on it all year long."
State Fair employees grow from 60 to 1,400 this month. A team of 15 trim the grass and whack weeds each day.
Martin and his crew were among the first food vendors to arrive, about a month ago. This is their temporary Midwest headquarters, from which they dispatch corn-dog stands and workers to a handful of county fairs in the area. They also sell food to other vendors or visitors who come early to get a sneak peek of what's to come.
Kevin McGrath II stands on a ladder as he works Friday on erecting a sign on a stand at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Ryan Saviuc assists him from above. The stand, east of the Administration Building, is owned by Kevin McGrath Sr. of Fort Myers, Fla.
"This is one of our favorite fairs," said Kevin McGrath II, of Fort Myers, Fla., who drives his funnel cake stand to 25 fairs each year. This is his fourth stop.
"It's the people," he said. "Everyone here loves to have fun."
Amanda Lay of Ankeny strolled among the food stands on Friday with the two young boys for whom she is a nanny. They walked past a lawn that will soon be overrun with giant pumpkins.
"I haven't been to the fair in 11 years since I moved to Texas," she said. "I'm eager for all the food."
New foods this year are the Octodog - a hot dog cut in the shape of an octopus - and the Fair Square - a $2 crispy rice bar on a stick, the proceeds of which will benefit future fair projects. Chappell said the fair expects to sell more than 16,000 of the squares.
The gates open at 6 a.m. Thursday. The opening ceremony is at 9 a.m. at the new Jacobson Exhibition Center, a climate-controlled horse show arena.
Country singer Lee Greenwood plays a free show there at 7 p.m.
When the fair ends 11 days later on Aug. 22, "everyone leaves all at once," Chappell said. "Boom. It's here and then it's gone. And then you're in withdrawal. It's really a letdown when it ends."
Nick Rainone worked on his expressions with other area residents during their audition to hit the road as clowns with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday. 'I can't be a cute clown, I need to be tough,' he said. His father is a clown. His mother was a clown. His fate, it seemed, was set from the beginning.
But as a teenager, Rainone rebelled. He joined a punk rock band, got some bad tattoos and began running from his parents' influence only to find that what gave him the most happiness was the laughter of others.
He found it again Friday when he earned a chance to become a traveling clown with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Rainone, who calls himself Zerp, was one of 20 clowns who showed up for the open tryout Friday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
"I was born a clown." said Rainone, 20. "This is probably what I'm supposed to do."
When he was a week out of the womb, his parents, John "Bonkers" Rainone, and mother, Holly "Poppy" Benner, dressed themselves and their newborn in classic clown garb. It was their first family portrait.
Rainone still keeps the photograph. In it he looks like a pale-faced doll in his parents' arms.read more at:http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-clowns_07met.ART.State.Edition1.35791c2.html