Mitch Traphagen File Photo
By MELODY JAMESON
GIBSONTON — Sweet and salty aromas of cotton candy and roasting peanuts accented with the pungent fragrance of fresh wood shavings, shapely young aerialists floating without apparent effort under the big top, a large contingent of tuneful musicians, prancing animals performing on command, clowns in colorful getup – all of these tasty, awesome, happy, goofy features are on tap next week when the 30th annual Showmen’s Association Charity Circus takes over their event center here.
This year, three non-stop action shows are scheduled on Saturday, January 5, beginning at 1 p.m., according to C.M. Christ, promotions coordinator. The second production is set for 4 p.m. and the third at 7 p.m., he added, with the midway open one hour before each show.
Staged annually by the association on grassy acreage at its headquarters, 6915 Riverview Drive, the event incorporating all the sights, sounds and smells of the traditional circus is the organization’s largest fund raiser of the year, Christ noted. And because all of the components of the circus are donated, all of the monies it generates can be contributed to such organizations as the Mary Martha House in Ruskin and children’s hospitals. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been contributed to organizations caring for youngsters, due to the generosity of the people who come together to produce the circus and the audience attending each year, he said.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the entrance, with children under 12 admitted free with coupons available at various business sites around the South County area and when accompanied by a paying adult. Parking is free.
The 2013 edition of the Showmen’s circus includes a variety of popular acts returning due to demand, plus new features, Christ noted. For example, Jack Cooke’s Comedy Cars again are in the line-up, as are the kid-friendly performing pigs, and so are Wayne Franzen’s trained elephants.
Performing horses and dogs, along with more exotic animals like camels as well as llamas, also are expected to be in the ring. Then, there are the aerial artists at home swinging overhead from trapeze to trapeze, plus tumblers and jugglers and clowns galore, he added. Justin Loomis, from St. Petersburg, is to be the ringmaster.
The circus has grown with each successive year and in 2013 will feature the largest circus band to be found in any similar show, noted Lee Stevens, event coordinator. This assembly of talented musicians will provide at least one concert “of real circus music,” he added.