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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Circus comes to town


Malvino the clown juggles for the crowd before the show begins at the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus last Wednesday at Yelm City Park. Photo by Dean Siemon

By Dean Siemon, Nisqually Valley News,

Published: Friday, June 17, 2011

Yelm, WA---The Culpepper and Merriweather Circus made a return to Yelm last Wednesday to the delight of children and adults, who returned to their youth for one night.
“I’m a third generation parent that has taken his kids to the circus,” said Terry Clark, who brought his 4-year-old son Joe.
The traveling circus, which originated in 1987 and is now based in Hugo, Okla., makes a stop in Yelm every two years during its national tour and organized in conjunction with the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce.
Cecelia Jenkins, executive director of the chamber, said the chamber receives 25 percent of the gate from ticket sales, which, after bills are paid, is approximately $500.
“All of that goes on to our community service fund,” she said. “We don’t do it [the circus] as a money maker, we do it as a community service project.”
Jenkins said the community service fund is used to help sponsor community events, including Prairie Days,
“We do a lot to support community activities for our community,” she said.
Approximately 1,600 people attended the two shows, with more than 800 spectators during the second time, which the stands that were set up for the two shows were unable to contain.
“The second one actually had more people sitting on the ground,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said she has already been told the circus plans on returning in two years.
“They go from one city to the next and they’ll come to us from Oregon,” she said. “It’s usually in May or June.”
The circus is a welcomed tradition by families, including the families who went for the first time ever last Wednesday.
“We were really excited to bring our kids here,” said Jesse Kellems, who brought his two 5-year-old daughters, Trissani and Tearra. “They’ve been looking forward to it since they saw the posters.”
“It’s fun to see something going on in town that families can enjoy together,” Gabby Mendez said.
Jenkins said she has brought her children and grandchildren to the event, but are now all mature.
“I had my nieces and nephews there,” she said. “A whole new batch of little ones.”
Clark said he was taken to the circus as a child and wanted to bring that same stability to his children.
“If you don’t hold traditions, you lose them,” he said. “Those are the things that you cherish up until your death.”

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