Saturday, June 4, 2011
Cirque du Soleil’s “Viva Elvis” show in Las Vegas is one of 16 shows the company is performing in the United States.
The first time I saw Cirque du Soleil was in Washington in the early 1990s and it was like no circus I had ever seen. There were no lumbering animals or clown cars. These performers were whimsical, the mood oddly dreamlike and, in between the death-defying acrobatics, there were moments of minor-key theatrical grace.I loved it.
The next time I saw a Cirque show was over a decade later, in Las Vegas. The company had become a global brand and the production, “O,” reflected that. It was grand spectacle marked less by an individual style than several coups de theatre. In particular, I recall the frightening and beautiful image of a diver leaping down several stories into what seemed to be a shallow puddle but was actually a pool much deeper.
Once I started catching up on Cirque productions, I noticed that they were full of such bold gestures: the daredevils in “Kooza” leaping on top of the Wheel of Death, a spinning apparatus from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” and the giant puppets and impossibly bendy contortionists in front a snowy landscape in “Wintuk” at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The performers still had a gentle artistry, but now married that with athletic power.
I began reporting on Cirque du Soleil in an attempt to understand the company’s evolution into one of the most overlooked success stories in popular culture today. In this article online, which will appear in print in Arts & Leisure on Sunday, I explore the company’s history and the outsized ambition and drive of its owner, Guy Laliberté. With rare access to report on Cirque’s unique artistic process, I will write next week about its latest show, “Zarkana,” which will play in three cities, including New York, where the show will open at Radio City Music Hall on June 9.
What Cirque du Soleil shows have you seen? And what awe-inspiring feats or dynamic routines have stuck with you? What show has been your favorite?
from Mike Naughton
Since its foundation more than two hundred years ago it has remained in the hands of one and the same family the Knies whose youngest and oldest members alike take an active part in circus life. The act performed by Director Freddy Knie and his small grandson bears witness to this fact.
The Knie Circus offers the public a whole range of acts by more than 200 artists of international standing
The show remains focused, however, on the two fundamental elements in western circus tradition: the dressage and the clown.
By Jim Cook Jr. / The News of Cumberland County South Jersey Newspapers
HOPEWELL TWP. — The great P.T. Barnum once said: “Every crowd has a silver lining.”
But that was not the case at the Kelly Miller Circus, which came to Cumberland County to sponsor the Bridgeton Breakfast Rotary last Friday. The lively crowd was on it’s feet cheering before the show began.
Dutch Neck Village partnered with Bridgeton Breakfast Rotary to present the event on its grounds, but due to last minute scheduling complications, moved to the next field over at Sunny Slope Farms.READ MORE AT:http://www.nj.com/cumberland/index.ssf/2011/06/kelly_miller_circus_swings_int.html
Returning in July: Circus Vidbel tickets on sale Friday, 03 June 2011
The circus will be performing under the big top tent at the Saxe Middle School playing field on Friday, July 1, Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3. There will be two shows daily, at 3 and 6 p.m.
Proceeds from the event will benefit youth development programs at the New Canaan YMCA and throughout the community.
Tickets will be on sale beginning the first week of June at the New Canaan YMCA Front Desk, as well as at the following local merchants: TD Bank New Canaan, Baskin Robbins New Canaan, Elm Street Books, First County Bank New Canaan, Hawthorne, Ackerly and Dorrance, LLC., and New Balance New Canaan. Prices are $15 per person in advance or $20 at the door. Children under two are free.
Last year’s circus hosted roughly 3,000 guests and raised nearly $25,000, which benefited teen programming at the New Canaan YMCA and the implementation of a recording studio at the Outback Teen Center.
Circus Vidbel — a family-run, one-ring, old-time circus — has been performing across the United States for more than 20 years.
New performances this year will include the Zamperla Brothers Bareback Riders — showcasing equestrian acrobats — Chinese vase jugglers and a “nail-biting” archery act. Favorite acts from last year that will be returning include aerialist Susan Vidbel in a breathtaking cloud swing and lyra displays, the Darnell Sisters magic and dog act, Risley juggling and the Rola-Bola balancing board act.
Children will be able to play in the ring prior to the show. There will also be concessions, music and plenty of traditional circus laughter brought on by the Circus Vidbel clowns. The show is appropriate for families with children of all ages and no wild animals are part of the performance.
Friday, June 3, 2011
James Arness, Iconic 'Gunsmoke' Lawman, Dead at 88
June 3rd 2011-- 02:30PM
James Arness, a bigger-than-life actor who kept the peace as Marshal Matt Dillon on 'Gunsmoke' for its 20-year run, died Friday of natural causes at his home in Brentwood, Calif., his family told the Los Angeles Times. He was 88.
'Gunsmoke' debuted on CBS in 1955 and ran until 1975, in the process making Arness one of the more enduring stars on television and the Matt Dillon character one of its most beloved and trusted.
The 6 foot 7 Arness towered over the cast, including Dillon's deputy, Chester, played by Dennis Weaver. Other supporting stars included Amanda Blake as Kitty and Milburn Stone as Doc Adams.
By the time Arness got the part of Dillon, he had been a WWII combat veteran and appeared in several films, most notably the science-fiction classics 'Them!' and 'The Thing From Another World,' in which
The Minneapolis native's younger brother, actor Peter Graves, who died last October, encouraged him to get into acting. He cut his Western teeth in four John Wayne film, including 'Hondo' and 'Big Jim McLain.'
It was Wayne that recommended Arness for 'Gunsmoke' and an on-air endorsement from the film great himself. "I knew there was only one man to play in it, James Arness," Wayne told viewers (watch video below). "He's a young fella and may be new to some of you. But I've worked with him, and I predict he'll be a big star. So you might as well get used to him, like you've had to get used to me."
The role of Marshal Dillon proved a complex one and became a focus of the show, but Arness is said to have pushed producers to move the focus off him and onto the large ensemble cast.
read more at:
By Becca Nelson Sankey Special to the Standard-Times San Angelo Standard Times June 2, 2011
SAN ANGELO, Texas — When Jodie Urias says she ran away to join the circus, she's not joking.
In the 1980s, Urias attended a circus show in her home state of Arizona and — like most audience members — was in awe of the performances.
"I had gone with my nephews and my co-workers, and I was like, 'Oh, I want to do that' (about) everything that was in the air," she said. "It was one of those things where a couple of the girls I was working with were a little bit catty and said, 'You can't do that.'"
What Urias lacked in experience, she made up for in determination. The next day, Urias obtained the circus' route, then took time off from work so she and a friend could drive to the circus' next performance destination.
Upon arriving, Urias discovered that a circus member happened to be looking for a partner, and they were willing to train Urias.
"That's not common for somebody to just walk in like that and have somebody willing to teach you," Urias said. "I was smart enough that I knew what I wanted to do, and I was naive enough not to know there was an element of danger because that's the kind of world we live in. I was fortunate to have met the right kind of people to help me learn what I needed to learn. "
Urias made a career out of being a trapeze artist for the circus and eventually joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, where she performs with her husband and in-laws, a family famous for doing motorcycle stunts in a steel globe 16 feet wide.
There’s always something exciting happening when the circus comes to town.
Meeting Dan Baltulonis, Senior Marketing Director, we discussed circuses, their acts and travelling. Dan took www.ParamusPost.com on a tour of the facilities as they look before the show is ready. This included a sleeping Bengal tiger, waiting elephants and ponies, dogs, llamas, the huge cannon and some of the props before we went into the spacious indoor tent which afforded almost completely unobstructed views.
The ticket office was open (10 AM – 8 PM) and a slow but steady stream of wishful circus-goers were seen at the window. With shows starting Thursday and Friday at 4:30 and 7:30, Saturday at 1:30, 4:30 an 7:30 and concluding on Sunday at 1:30 and 4:30, there are plenty of choices.
Cole Bros Circus of Stars is owned by John Pugh, a longtime friend, who stays in the winterquarters these days. The circus claim to fame is that it is the World’s largest circus under the Big Top and has been in existence since 1884. John and I do not go back that far!www.gotothecircus.com , www.tickets.com or www.freekidstickets.com will connect you!
By Barbara Arnstein
from the queenstribune.com
Special effects are only tricks, but the Big Apple Circus is for real.
The superheroes of this circus demonstrate the dexterity of Daredevil, twirl lassos like Wonder Woman and command creatures like Aquaman. With mighty muscles like Superman, Big Apple athletes jump, juggle, balance, bend and soar high in the air. Now is the time to catch the show at Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, where it will remain through June 5.
Walking on stilts is a challenging feat, and Andrey Mantchev maages to do it using his hands. The Bulgaria-born gymnast began his career at the age of 6 and succeeded in becoming a member of the Junior National Team before 14. At that time, he was chosen to join a team that traveled to America, where he joined the Big Apple Circus in 1999. Russian gymnast Regina Dobrovitskaya, a permanent member of the cast, toured with a Moscow circus.
The act of the amazing Hebei Wuqiao acrobats includes a breathtaking demonstration of lassoing techniques and teamwork that won them the Golden Lion award at the 11th China Wuqiao International Acrobatic Circus festival in 2007. The Kenyan Boys jump and juggle, demonstrating terrific teamwork.
The circus's clowns of renown, Rob Torres and Barry Lubin (who plays the character "Grandma"), have won many international awards and honors, but their greatest achievement is winning every viewer's interest with super sight gags and perfect pantomime.
You can see the imaginary X-Men on the silver screen, but why not watch the incredibly flexible, real-life "X Bud Roses Troupe" of Chinese contortionists? The lovely young ladies literally bend over backward to entertain their audiences.
Jennifer Vidbel's act includes a dozen white ponies, a majestic Arabian stallion, several very talented dogs, and goats who ride ponies. The ponies prance in a traditional "liberty act," which means they freely pace around the ring without any riders, displaying the classic beauty of rhythmic pacing. Queens native Paul Simon metaphorically celebrated such an act in the song, "One Trick Pony," which includes the admiring lyric, "When he steps into the spotlight,/you can feel the heat of his heart come shining through."
One of the best parts of the Big Apple Circus experience is something that's hilariously different every time: audience interaction. Lucky members of the audience are chosen to work together with the clowns in various ways (a clue: the title of this year's presentation is "Dance On."). Best of all: every visitor has an excellent view, thanks to the considerate close-up seating and the one-ring intimacy of this exciting extravaganza.Cunningham Park is at 196-22 Union Turnpike. For more information, go to bigapplecircus.org, or call (800) 922-3772, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Georgia ban on circus elephant 'hooks'
ATLANTA, June 2 (UPI) -- Commissioners in Georgia's Fulton County have voted to ban the use of elephant bullhooks by circuses, but the ban does not cover Atlanta, officials said.
The ban on bullhooks -- an instrument shaped like a fire poker with a steel claw with two sharpened tips -- applies only to unincorporated areas of the country and will not keep bullhooks out of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus' shows at Philips Arena, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday.
Animal advocates said Atlanta would be their next battleground, as well as Gwinnett and DeKalb counties, the newspaper reported.
"I see this as setting precedent and a stepping stone," Anna Ware of the Atlanta Humane Society said.
Fulton County is the first Georgia jurisdiction to institute a ban on bullhooks, following cities and counties in Florida, South Carolina, New York, Kentucky and Indiana.
Thomas Albert, vice president of government relations of Feld Entertainment, owners of Ringling Brothers, characterized bullhooks as "guides" and "elephant husbandry tools" used by some zoos.
"Without this tool, you cannot have elephants at the circus. Period," he said.Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/06/02/Georgia-ban-on-circus-elephant-hooks/UPI-90301307035649/#ixzz1OA4IUqpT
Thursday, June 2, 2011
The three-ring circus combines traditional acts with contemporary thrills, including tigers, elephants, clowns, aerial and high-wire acts.
Shriners Circus Week kicks off on Friday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Downtown Belleville with a parade featuring floats, marching bands, local dignitaries, clowns and patrols of Shriners driving those infamous mini-cars and motorcycles.
Circus performances will be at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, and at 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 5.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children and can be used at any of the six circus locations: Belleville, Waterloo, Jerseyville, Olney, Salem and DuQuoin. Purchase tickets at all Southern Illinois MotoMart Convenience Stores, Schnucks Supermarkets, and Huck's locations; Tom's Market or from any Shriner.
Free children's passes are available online at ainadshriners.org/circus. Proceeds benefit the Ainad Shriners operations.
The St. Louis Arches appeared with Circus Flora earlier this year when the Floating Palace docked with the St. Louis Symphony.
The one-ring circus is set on the Floating Palace, a riverboat that, before the Civil War, actually served as a circus venue making its way down the Mississippi River. On board the Palace will be favorite performers such as the Flying Wallendas, the St. Louis Arches, the Flying Pages and Nino the clown. New acts include the Olate Dogs and their canine tricks and the Riding Donnerts' horse show.
The adventure takes place through a storyline about stowaways packed into the Palace, dreaming of a future in the circus. But first, they have to solve a puzzle, save the boat and make it back to St. Louis.
On Wednesdays, the Circus Flora adventure is compressed into a one-hour "Little Top" show for smaller children.
Where: Grand Center, adjacent to Powell Hall, 718 North Grand Blvd., 63103
When: Thursday June 2-June 26
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Uploaded by MSCFairfield on May 31, 2011
Contortionists from the Big Apple Circus shocked passers-by in Stamford Tuesday as they gave a sneak preview of the show coming to the city this summer. The five members of the X Bud Roses Troupe performed on a small, circular stage, twisting bodies for those who stopped to watch the show.
By Mel Fabrikant
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Big Cat Show, Kachunga & The Alligator, Human Slinky and Circus Maximus to Dazzle Audiences at State Fair Meadowlands
For its 25th Anniversary year, State Fair Meadowlands will be treating fairgoers to an exciting list of brand-new entertainers during the 17-day event, running June 24 thru July 10 at the New Meadowlands Fairgrounds, next to the New Meadowlands Stadium, formerly Giants Stadium, in East Rutherford.
The fair will host The Big Cat Show, featuring a lion, tigers, a “liger” and their lovable trainer; Kachunga & The Alligator show, from deep in the swamps of Florida; the Human Slinky, a colorful and hilarious stage show; and Circus Maximus, an 1,800-seat contemporary tent circus.All of these shows – as well as returning favorites The Racing Pigs, Master Hynotist Steve Bayner, Festival of Magic and World of Wonder/Palace of Illusion – are FREE with entry ticket. On weekdays, adults are $7 and kids and seniors are $5. On weekends, entry for adults is $9 and kids and seniors are $6. Admission/ride combo entry tickets are also available, providing entry, rides and free entertainment.read the rest of the story at:http://www.paramuspost.com/article.php/20110531143113676
Bears, Drown the Clown, stunt show coming to No. BrunswickAnnual Youth Sports Festival will be held June 9-19
This year, new attractions include Rosaire’s Bears and the Galaxy Girl & Globe Motorcycle Stunt Show.
Old favorites will return as well, such as the Eudora Farms Petting Zoo, Dennis York’s exotic animals, Wambold’s Circus Menagerie, Rosaire’s Famous Pig Racing, rides by Reithoffer shows, camel rides, and Drown the Clown.
“I think because of the way the show changes every year, people want to see how it’s going to be,” said festival co-chair Rich Fabian.
There will be nightly entertainment on the main stage, and music provided by DJ Phil Forti.
Various food vendors will be present, along with a new home-style barbecue station offered by the festival committee.
Other vendors include a cell phone stand, jewelry, T-shirts, Kitchen Magic and name painting.
“We have the recession, and gas prices [are high], so we think it’s keeping people close to home and not traveling as much,” festival co-chair Darren Snediker said of having a carnival in town.
All proceeds raised at the festival will benefit the North Brunswick Youth Sports programs so that the leagues can keep costs down for players as well as donate to the township.
read more at:http://nbs.gmnews.com/news/2011-06-02/Front_Page/Bears_Drown_the_Clown_stunt_show_coming_to_No_Brun.html
Fairground manager Jim Mick said if the horse ban for the arena is lifted he will know by today.
Mon-Ark Shrine Club treasurer Bob McCormick said he doesn't know if the world circus has been traveling with horses while they've been doing shows throughout the state.
McCormick said he called circus owner, Jody Jordan of Las Vegas, Nev., to give him a "heads up" about the virus outbreak and the ban on horses at the fairgrounds.
Earlier this month the circus performed in Greeley and was not allowed to use horses in that show, he said.
Animals regularly featured in the show and expected Thursday are lions, tigers and elephants. Camels and bears have also been featured.
For the first time since Mon-Ark Shrine Club began presenting the circus in the 1960s the event will be in a new location.
Traditionally held on the Salida High School football field, it will be moved to the fairgrounds because of construction of the new high school.
McCormick said he thinks the venue will be better suited for the circus troupe to set up and break down.
There will be shows at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m Thursday. The circus is a fund-raiser for Shriner Hospitals for Children.
Tickets will be available at the gate or online at www.thejordanworldcircus.com. Also featured on the website are free tickets for children 12 years old and younger.
See Circus Flora's Vagabond Adventure
May 31, 2011
St. Louis, MO (KPLR)— Tino Wallenda from the famous "Flying Wallendas" and "Nino" the clown celebrate the 25th season of Circus Flora. The Circus is presenting a brand new show called "Vagabond Adventures". The show takes place June 2nd through the 26th. It'll all happening under the big air conditioned tent.
The show takes the audience on an adventure that ends up right back here in St.Louis. Vagabond Adventures reunites circus stars from the last quarter century such as the Flying Wallendas, the St. Louis Arches, the Flying Pages and, Giovanni Zoppé as Nino, along with many exciting new acts.
Circus in town
Elephants form a line down Main Street in a vintage photograph from the collection of the Genesee County History Department. The city has a close historical connection with the big top, in the person of Rosalie Du Pre, a famed circus performer who lived in the city for nearly a half-century.In 1841, Rosalie Du Pre was born in a little settlement near Montreal called Riviere de Laine, Quebec. In 1843, her parents took her to Montreal to see one of the big tent shows, listed as the World’s Eighth Wonder or as the Greatest Show on Earth, a circus. After the show Rosalie was separated from her parents.
She was luckily taken under the protecting arm of the circus owner. She was taken to New York City, the winter headquarters for the Barnum Circus, and became a member of their household. At 6 years old Rosalie made her debut as a circus performer. She was seated in a little white carriage as she drove six white ponies in the grand parade around the Big Top. She was the opening act of every performance and her appearance was always met with applause from the audience.
The circus was her textbook for her early schooling. She constantly studied the stunts of the performers. She begged the owners of the circus to let her ride bareback in the sawdust ring. Previously, only the men in the circus were allowed to do this act but she earned their consent. She was given a big white horse called “Patriarch” that she fondly named “Pat.”
At 19, she had her debut in New York City as the female bareback rider. She continued to tour the country. In Galveston, Texas, the disease black tongue was spreading through the performers of the circus. As she was riding into the circle she noticed that the ringmaster had fallen to the ground. His face was purple. She also fell from her horse and was picked up unconscious. Months afterward she regained her health in New York City, where she had been taken to the Barnums to recuperate from the dreaded disease.read more at:http://thedailynewsonline.com/news/article_8ce972f2-8b7a-11e0-bad9-001cc4c03286.html?mode=story
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Great Moscow Circus has been touring Australia for almost 50 years but has never been to Wyndham, says circus manager Greg Hall.
It opens at Hoppers Crossing tomorrow in a heated big top on the Werribee Plaza site, at the corner of Heaths Rd and Barber Drive.
The last shows are on June 13.
Hoppers Crossing is the 69th stop on the circus’ national regional tour. It next heads to Ballarat.
May 27, 2011
By Grant Butler, The Oregonian
If you drive over the Morrison Bridge during this year's Portland Rose Festival, there's no way you can miss the big, new attraction at the CityFair carnival. It's a swing ride that towers 100 feet above Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and its name tells you that dizzying heights are in the cards: Vertigo.
"It's the tallest ride we've ever had at Waterfront Park by far," says Jeff Curtis, the Rose Festival's chief executive officer. "You won't be able to miss it, even from the other side of the river on the freeway."
The ride has 12 swing seats that hold 24 people and lasts between two and three minutes, taking riders from the base to the top, with the swings spinning at a moderate speed, offering panoramic views of both the festival grounds and the city. It's an experience that Curtis says will be nothing short of mind-blowing.
He should know. Last year, he rode a smaller version of the ride at an amusement park trade show in Florida, and right away he thought it would be the perfect addition to the Rose Festivalread the rest of the story at:http://www.oregonlive.com/rosefest/index.ssf/2011/05/rose_festival_new_vertigo_ride.html
By Meredith Deliso
The Brooklyn Paper
We were already big fans of “Showboat Shazzam,” a long-running circus series at the Waterfront Museum and Barge in Red Hook. And now that it’s cheaper, we love it even more!
When the aerialists, jugglers and contortionists return to the Red Hook waterfront on June 5, you can get front-row action for only $10 — down $6 for adults and a couple buck for the kids compared to last year’s rates.
With those savings, you might as well take advantage and go more than once.
“Every weekend there’s wholly different artists,” said Artistic Director Karen Gersch. “It’s a whole new show.”
The diverse acts kicking things off include juggler Adam Kapilow; aerialists Megan and Mariu; contortionists The Sorbet Sisters; and clown Tanya Solomon.
Down the pipe, highlights include juggler and comedian Will Shaw and David Sharps, caretaker of the barge, performing a Chinese vase manipulation act (June 19); and slackrope clown prince Dikki Ellis (June 26).
On July 24, the barge docks at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6, with aerialist Hilary Sweeney and acrobat Aerial Emery in tow.
The site may change, but its spirit won’t.
“This is the closest children can get to the circus,” said Gersch. “That’s always our MO.”
The big misconception about circus people, says Erwin Urias - fourth-generation motorcycle daredevil for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus - is that, "Everyone thinks we're a bunch of odd transients, when the boring truth is that we are really normal."
Many circus families are well educated, with an advantage, in the Brazilian-born Urias' eyes, being an opportunity to live and work alongside family members.
But Urias, 41, spoke first about circus life.
He and his wife, Jodie, travel with their two children: son Geovi, 10, and daughter Alyssa, 7.
"I find it fascinating," said Erwin, "to grow up again, only this time through the eyes of my children. Circus life is populated by such a diverse array of cultures. Ringling hires the very best from around the world, and one read the rest of the story at:http://lubbockonline.com/entertainment/2011-05-30/urias-family-risks-everything-motorcycle-daredevils-ringling-bros
Monday, May 30, 2011
The circus, out of Hugo, Okla., was to perform two shows Saturday at Priceboro Park.
However, when a Buck’s Sanitation truck got stuck in the soft ground Friday and the rain continued to pour, City Manager Bruce Cleeton knew the public wouldn’t have a chance in the mud.
Luckily, he said, the school district allowed the circus to move to Harrisburg High School grounds, 400 South Ninth St. “Otherwise, we would have had to cancel,” he said.
Karina Perez, 21, starts off her Hula-Hoop performance with four rings during the Culpepper and Merriweather circus in Harrisburg Saturday afternoon.
Hundreds took to the bleachers for the “hula hoop wizardry” of Miss Karina, clowning by Melvino, Miss Lana’s bird show and more.
If you’re interested in watching a lion tamer, jugglers, unicyclists, a trapeze artist and other circus acts in the one-ring show, you can catch the Culpepper & Merriweather Great Combined Circus in Turner today, and at 5 p.m. Monday and again at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Jefferson.
Who didn’t like going to a circus while being a child? How many hopes and happiness this event brought to our hearts! Fortunately, nowadays children still love coming here and laughing at clowns and performing animals.
“When they come out to see the show, people can expect to see the greatest show on earth,” said Georgia-born Lewe Andrews, who is known as Lewe the Clown.
Andrews has been working with various circus shows since he was six. Now 19, Andrews is the Cole Bros. Circus Advance Clown. As the ambassador of good will, Lewe greets the youngsters before they go into the show and does much of the organization’s promotion.
“We’ve got lots of highlights,” he added. “There are the elephants, the flying trapeze, and cartoon poodles. Kids will love it!”
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Maybe, even, the greatest thing in a long time.
This was real Americana, the kind of circus your grandparents or even great-grandparents remember. One ring, some big animals, some little animals, jugglers and trapeze artists, a dog act, the flying Perez family and, naturally, a clown. Oh, and sequins. Lots of sequins.
“It’s nice to see that an operation like this is still going,” said Harrisburg City Manager Bruce Cleeton. “It’s a little bit of Americana I remember as a youngster, and I’m glad we can make some memories for the Harrisburg kids now.”
And those kids ate it up like popcorn. Or cotton candy, which both found plenty of eager takers among the 200 or so people to pack the big top for the first of two shows.
America Molina (center), her sister Bineet Molina (just left of center) and mother Alma Molina clap and laugh at the entertainment during the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus. Amanda Smith/For The Register-Guard
For many people, especially the young ones, it was either their first time ever at a circus or their first in a very long time. Relatively few in the crowd remember when Harrisburg used to have regular Fourth of July circuses, mainly because the last one was about 40 years ago.
“We’ve never had a circus since I was here, so I think it’s pretty neat to bring it into a small town,” said Peggie Walter, who brought 2-year-old Destiny to the show.
There were plenty of “ooh” and “ahh” moments, such as when Solomon the lion leaped from his cage and into the ring with a pair of tigers.
Or when Natalie Cainan got one of her trained dogs to push another around the ring in a cart. Or when Karina Perez managed to get about two dozen hoops spinning around her from head to toe.
Clearly, the circus still is a family affair, which is why the acts seemed to have a lot of familiar faces. The guy hawking cotton candy and souvenirs in the stands one minute was riding a 10-foot-tall unicycle in the ring the next and steadying the rope for his aerialist daughter before that.
They were part of the Dykes family, a longtime circus clan that in addition to the rope act — known as a web act in circus lingo — also worked the trapeze act, bird act and a family unicycle act. Members of the Perez family include jugglers, hoop artists and aerialists.
Angel Perez wowed the crowed with a Russian Swing act. That’s a contraption with a two-man platform on something like a playground swing that launches one person high into the tent and into a net.
Part of the big finalé was Angel Perez flying through a small hoop hung from the upper reaches of the tent. Sure, he missed it the first time, but that only made it that much more exciting when he nailed the second try.
“It’s good, clean entertainment,” said Gary Keller of Junction City. “I think they really put on a good show.”
Young Christian Molina, 10, and his 7-year-old sister America, gave their first circus raves.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Christian said.
A huge downpour that hammered the big top so loudly it almost drowned out the circus music didn’t dampen the day for anyone, except maybe a few performers who had to run between trailers during the deluge. Soggy ground in the city’s new Priceboro Park, the advertised location for the show, already had forced a last-minute move to a gravel lot at Harrisburg High School.
The shows helped raise money both for the new park and the Harrisburg Elementary School Parent Club. But they also reminded people what it’s like to see a live, traveling show, a kind of entertainment that may be short on glitz but that’s long on charm.
And more than a few left hoping that it’s not 40 years before the next one.
“I want to come back,” said 11-year-old Jared Roberson.