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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Set-up for the Shrine Circus


Brittney Lohmiller blohmill@mlive.com Flying trapeze performers put together the flying trapeze for the 69th Annual 2012 Elf Khurafeh Shrine Circus at the Dow Events Center. It usual take 3 1/2-4 hours to put together and level the trapeze. Circus performances will run Feb. 2-Feb. 5 at the Dow. To purchase this photo please call (989) 752-7171

By Brittney Lohmiller MLive.com

The Saginaw News

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

SAGINAW — With horses settled in where you'd usually find a goalie in Wendler Arena, and elephants sending the scent of the circus into every corner, Brett Carden looked across three rings of activity as everyone prepared for the 69th annual Shrine Circus' opening day.
"It's a pretty bad show," he said, and then he lost his poker face, a big smile spreading from ear to ear.
Carden, whose circus will perform under the Shriners' banner at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, knows better. The show that opens its four-day run at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, has racked up big numbers at the year's first stops.




Photos from The Saginaw News

By Brittney Lohmiller MLive.com The Saginaw News

Tigers wait in their cages to be brought to their pen at the Dow Events Center in Saginaw. The 69th Annual 2012 Elf Khurafeh Shrine Circus will run Feb. 2-Feb. 5 at the Dow.

In Flint, the circus sold out six shows and topped previous attendance numbers by 8,000, said Chief of Staff Nick Singelis. In Lansing, it sold out five shows, with attendance up by 10,000.
"And it was all by word of mouth," added Shriner clown John Jacobs. "This is like something you'd see in Las Vegas; it has that kind of class."
"Instead of the high-tech acts, we went back to the more traditional, including a family high wire and trapeze act that is amazing," Singelis said. "The youngest member is only 13, but you should see what they can do."
There are thrills and chills, too, with a motocross act that will send the bikes flying in a diagonal arc across the arena, so high, he said, that you expect them to hit the hanging scoreboard.


Sebastian Gutierrez, left of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Vanya Ponce of Guatemala City, Guatemala put together the Russian Swing for the 69th Annual 2012 Elf Khurafeh Shrine Circus at the Dow Events Center. Gutierrez and Ponce perform in the flying trapeze for the circus. Performances will run Feb. 2-Feb. 5 at the Dow.

"I've watched it 21 times now, and it still takes my breath away," he said. "In Flint, they were fooling around, doing their flips for the finale, and their feet hit the lights. That's how high they go."
The Shriner Clowns have an explosive act in the works, too, Jacobs said.
"We built a car," he said, and then made a few modifications on the classic "how-many-clowns-can-you-fit-in" skit.
Holding it all together is Rick the Rockin' Ringmaster, a former Marine who sold his business and ran off with the circus after marrying a sixth-generation performer.
"He'd make a circus full of crickets and bullfrogs something to see," Singelis said. "He's very good at what he does, and after he finishes three months with the Carden Circus, he spends another nine months with the Tarzan Circus in Canada."
And this morning found vendors setting up in the hallways, with bins of inflated SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer. By the time the show opens, the circus will also offer elephant and pony rides, face-painting and bounce-houses.
Trucks and trailers started arriving Tuesday at The Dow Event Center, and early today, crews were unloading cables and ramps and the cats billed as the Rage of the Cage.
The Pages family, who recently returned from playing Europe's one-ring shows, was busy unwinding huge coils of cable and looking for a sturdy anchor.
"Every building is different," said Jill Pages, who grew up in a circus school and married into an act that also includes the equestrian act Miss Mercedes and the Dancing Donnerts.
"The big challenge here, playing on top of ice, is that we don't have any floor bolts. But we come prepared; it's all been figured out."
This is the work, she said, the training, the planning, the build-up and tear-down.

"Then we get to play for 10 minutes in the ring as the Flying Pages," she said. "That's the fun part. We have nine people in the troupe and that's enough to mix it up, above and beyond what you'll see anywhere else. We fly with two catchers and you just don't find that everywhere."
But the bottom line, she said, is safety.
"My husband, he doesn't spare any expense when it comes to getting the right equipment. We've been doing this for years so we know what to do, but we've also been very blessed."
Discount coupons are available at businesses around town. Also go to the website elf_khurafeh_shrine_circus.com to buy tickets and for more information.
And in conjunction with The Saginaw News, circus fans will have a chance to win an electronic tablet in the Shrine Circus Tablet Giveaway.
The Shrine Circus 2012
10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2;
noon and 7 p.m. Feb. 3;
10 a.m., 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 4;
1 and 5 p.m. Feb. 5
The Dow Event Center, 303 Johnson, Saginaw
$14 adults, $12 children, general admission in advance; $16 adults, $14 children, reserved in advance; add $2 to each ticket on the day of show. VIP tickets, including a behind-the-scenes tour, free coloring book or program and preferred seating, cost $30

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