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Sunday, February 13, 2011

A circus with a lot of history comes to town

Ringmaster Peter Sturgis, a 30-year veteran of the profession, will oversee the proceedings.
By Don Steele
Dodge City Daily Globe
Feb 12, 2011
DODGE CITY — Kids in Lebanon learn tumbling much the same way kids in America learn baseball — it’s the national pastime. And that’s how George Hamid’s passion for the circus got started — tumbling through the dirt streets of his hometown, Broumana, in the early 1900s. Hamid’s grandmother sent young George to join his uncle’s acrobatic troupe, which happened to be touring France with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1907. When the troupe returned to America in 1908, Hamid was taught to read and write English by a fellow performer: Annie Oakley. Having learned his way around show business from one of the best, Hamid rose to the top of the industry. He won the Acrobatic World Championship at the age of 13. By the age of 17, he owned his own act and began his own booking business for other acts. He became a recognized expert on fairs, circuses and expositions and even bought the Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City, N.J.
In 1932, Hamid joined forces with veteran circus producer Bob Morton and started a touring show that continues today, now known as Hamid Circus Inc. The family business is now run by James Hamid Jr., representing the fourth generation of Hamid showmanship. Schooled by his father in all aspects of circus production, from sound to lights to logistics, Hamid proudly continues the family tradition of bringing smiles to hundreds of circus-goers across the country.
Come join the circus Hamid and his troupe arrived in Dodge City earlier this week, gathering here to put together the very first performance of the 2011 tour, the 80th anniversary for the family business. “We have acts coming from all over to join this year’s tour,” Hamid said in an interview with the Globe just two hours before the first performance. The tour will take its 40 members across the country at a rate of one city per week through October. “It will be a while before we get back home,” Hamid said. Hamid’s wife, Shirley, who is eighth-generation circus, and their three children are along for the tour. “Our manager also has three kids, and they all appear in the show,” Hamid said.

With a snappy greeting for kids of all ages, one of the larger members of the Hamid Circus troupe pauses while getting ready for the first performance of the nine-month tour.
As the weather gets warmer and business picks up on the circus circuit, Hamid will have as many as three separate groups making stops across the country. “Dad and I always joked that if we could put 52 units together, we’d work the first week of April and take the rest of the year off,” Hamid said. So what would Hamid’s great-grandfather think if he could see one of the performances of the 80th anniversary tour? “He would miss the sawdust, but he’d be amazed at the technology,” Hamid said. And he would undoubtedly appreciate that his descendants still display the flexibility it takes to put on a show.
As all the acts made their way to Dodge City to put the tour together, one group was trapped in Arkansas when Interstate 40 was closed. Trapped for three days, the performers really wanted to get on the road, but good judgment and the threat of a $1,000 fine kept them safely stranded. Not everyone was as wise. Stranded in the same location, the Harlem Globetrotters headed down the road but only made it 16 miles before getting stuck.
“We want them to get here, but we want them to be safe,” Hamid said. The group was expected to arrive in Dodge City late Friday.
read more at:http://www.dodgeglobe.com/news/x1055389645/A-circus-with-a-lot-of-history-comes-to-town?img=2

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