Circus Vargas opens a 11-day run in Vista on March 15. Photo courtesy of Mike Rollerson
By PAM KRAGEN email@example.com
Sunday, March 11, 2012
SAN DIEGO ---- While Ringling Bros. holds the title of America's biggest touring circus, it abandoned the old tradition of the circus tent long ago for indoor sports arenas.
But one traveling circus that still does things the old-fashioned way ---- with a 1,500-seat, Italian-made big top ---- returns to North County this week after a monthlong visit to San Diego.
The circus will open Thursday evening in a lot on the south side of Highway 78 at Vista Village Drive. The public's invited to watch the tent-raising from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday as crews wrestle 90,000 square feet of canvas fabric, 17 tons of rope and cable and 500 stakes into shape.
Circus Vargas was founded 40 years ago by Clifford Vargas, who wanted to create an old-fashioned, touring tent circus in the 19th-century tradition. When he died in 1989, Circus Vargas was taken over by two longtime friends (Roland Kaiser and Joseph Muscarello), who ran it until they retired. When the circus faced closure in 2005, it was purchased by Katya Arata Quiroga and Nelson Quiroga, the circus's longtime trapeze performers, who perform under the name The Flying Tabares.
Circus Vargas includes acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists, a magician and a motorcycle act, as well as clowns. The ringmaster is Kevin Venardos, who sings his own original songs during each performance. There are also the traditional circus staples, such as the opening and closing parades, in which the entire circus company marches for the crowd. Circus Vargas is a bilingual circus with many acts from Mexico and South America, and always offers some performances in Spanish.
Before every performance, ticket-holders are encouraged to arrive early for a pre-show "behind the scenes" program led by clowns Jon and Laura Weiss. Children will be invited into the center ring to try out life as a circus clown (doing everything from juggling to Hula-Hooping).
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays, through March 26. Tickets are $25-$75 for ages 11 and up and $20-$60 for children ages 2 to 10. Visit circusvargas.com or call 877-468-3861.