THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO MY TWIN BROTHER, BILL DYKES (1943-1995). WE WERE NOT ONLY BROTHERS BUT PARTNERS IN BUSINESS AND BEST FRIENDS!AND TO ALL THE "BUTCHERS" THAT HAVE PASSED ON TO THE BIG LOT IN THE SKY!
The scoop on the new Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival
Natalya Gage, 8, of Bear, samples her entry in the Stack-up Contest finals at the Rockwood Park Ice Cream Festival, Saturday, July 10, 2004. Contestants had one minute to scoop Turkey Hill Choco Mint Chip ice cream as high as they could. William Bretzger/News Journal file Written byRyan Cormier The News Journal from: delawareonline.com Jul 6, 2012 For the second time in as many years, entrepreneur Barry Schlecker has resurrected a beloved Delaware tradition after it had been left for dead. Following the immediate success of his newly refurbished Brandywine Festival of the Arts, which made its own comeback in 2010 after being canceled the year before by previous owners, Schlecker is at it again this weekend. New Castle County’s annual Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park near Penny Hill, which was a casualty of county budget cuts in 2007, is back with a new name, a new look and more ice cream, food and drink options than ever before. Schlecker’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Festival at Rockwood Park will be unveiled 11 a.m. Saturday and close 5 p.m. Sunday on the lush, green grounds of the park at 610 Shipley Road in Bellevue. MORE INFO: www.rockwoodicecream.com
Photo: Montreal Tourism Travel the World by Jennifer Merrick from: washingtontimes.com Friday, July 6, 2012 - MONTREAL, July 6, 2012 – “What kind of circus is this, anyway,” says my nine-year-old, clutching the red plastic noses that were given to him at the door. He’s understandably confused. We told him we were taking him to a circus, but there’s not a big top, tight rope or flashy outfit in sight. Instead there’s a hip DJ, an exuberant crowd, and two teams of performers battling againstone another in a game of circus improv. It doesn’t take long before we are all cheering for our favorite team as they contort, juggle, and perform gravity-defying feats in an attempt to one-up each other in unrehearsed challenges and win over the voting crowd. Whenthe referee makes an unpopular call, the crowd boos their displeasure and tosses red plastic noses at him. “Oh! That’s what they’re for!” cries Justin and hurls them onto the stage with gusto. The performance was one of 80 events last year at the Montréal Complètement Cirque, one of the city’s newest festivals. It has quickly made a name for itself, cementing Montreal’s reputation as a circus destination. It is, ofcourse, the birth place of the Cirque du Soleil and home of TOHU, the national circus school. read more at: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/donnes-world/2012/jul/6/Circus-Fireworks-Festivals-Montreal/
Montréal Complètement Cirque: 7 doigts de la main put a human face on contemporary circus
Eric Bates (left) performs a cigar box juggling routine during presentation of a portion of Les 7 doigts de la main circus troupe’s Sequence 8 show in May.
Photograph by: John Mahoney
By Kathryn Greenaway, THE GAZETTE
July 6, 2012
The Montréal Complètement Cirque festival opened at Tohu Thursday, with a blast of energy from 7 doigts de la main’s new work Séquence 8.
7 doigts is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season and Séquence 8 is a perfect example of what sets the troupe apart from other contemporary circuses.
The crazy circus skills are there, but so are the fluid transitions from this routine to that discipline — the generous use of post-modern choreography to keep the audience engaged while the young artists regroup for the next breakneck circus challenge.
But above all else Séquence 8 is a very human, intimate show about eight young artists so deeply connected they appear to breath with one lung. And that has always been 7 doigts goal — to put a human face on contemporary circus.
Séquence 8, staged by Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila, gave each performer a standout moment. Eric Bates’ cigar-box routine rocked; Alexandra Royer was lyrical perfection in both her Russian bar and aerial hoop routines; Ugo Dario and Maxim Laurin were the picture of athletic bravado in their breakneck Korean plank number and Colin Davis paced his master-of-ceremonies duties with equal measures of cool and mischief.
There were mishaps, as there often are on opening night at the circus, but that’s the nature of the beast. It’s what keeps the audience on edge, breathless, thrilled
Farm Bureau to promote agriculture as part owner of State Fair
By: Louis Llovio | Richmond Times-Dispatch Published: July 07, 2012 RICHMOND, Va -- Virginia Farm Bureau Federation has bought a 50 percent stake in the State Fair of Virginia, putting the fair partly back in the hands of local owners.
Tennessee-based Universal Fairs LLC, which bought the assets and trademarks to the fair at a foreclosure auction in May, sold the stake for an undisclosed amount.
The new partnership will be called Commonwealth Fairs and Events LLC.
"Ever since the fair went under, we thought the Virginia Farm Bureau ought to be involved in reviving it," Greg Hicks, vice president of communication for the Goochland County-based statewide farm advocacy group, said Friday.
SFVA Inc., the nonprofit charged with putting on the annual fair, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December after defaulting on about $75 million in loans. SFVA converted the case to a Chapter 7 liquidation in March after it was unable to come up with a package to buy the State Fair that would satisfy a group of lenders.
Universal had the winning bid for the State Fair — including The Meadow Event Park as well as the State Fair of Virginia's trademark, name and Web presence — at the auction.
The company's owner, Mark Lovell, bid $5.35 million and paid $5.67 million once fees and commissions are added. The partnership closed on the deal Friday afternoon. read more: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2012/jul/07/tdbiz01-virginia-farm-bureau-to-help-promote-agric-ar-2039353/
IndeOnline.com staff report from: indeonline.com Jul 05, 2012 MASSILLON,Ohio — Something funny is going on at the Massillon Museum.
The Kelly Miller Circus clowns will be on the Museum’s front lawn from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. July 17. The young — and young at heart — are invited to meet the clowns and enjoy their antics, then head to the museum’s second floor to view The Immel Circus.
The Immel Circus is a 100-foot-square miniature circus diorama featuring 2,620 figures hand-carved by the late Dr. Robert M. Immel of Massillon. The diorama is surrounded by historic circus posters and photographs from the Museum’s permanent collection.
Visitors can buy Kelly Miller Circus tickets at the front reception desk. Cash or checks will be accepted for the tickets which are $6 for children and $10 for adults. Tickets are available at the museum now through Aug. 1, when the circus will perform at the Massillon Knights of Columbus at 988 Cherry Road NW. Circus performances are set for 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
The museum is at 121 Lincoln Way E in downtown Massillon. A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free. For more information, call the Massillon Museum at 330-833-4061 or visit massillonmuseum.org.
from: cleveland.com Friday, July 06, 2012 By Kelly Doran, Sun News BEREA -- The St. Ignatius Circus Company began in 1985 with two students at the school who loved juggling. Now the company has approximately 25 members and performs at about 150 shows every year.
Those performances will include the Grindstone Festival in Berea, where the group will appear from 5-7 p.m. July 6 during the Snores ’N Smores family campout.
Chris Laco, former member and now co-moderator of the company, said there are no coaches; the students teach one another. Each member performs in about 30 shows a year. Several former members are now performing professionally, including David Anthony and Billy the Kid.
Laco said the company began when a school musical needed jugglers.
two founders volunteered and, when the show was over, did not want to stop juggling. They made an announcement and found a small number of other boys who were interested.
The founders taught those boys how to juggle and, a few years later, started putting on shows. Since then, the company has grown significantly. read more: http://www.cleveland.com/berea/index.ssf/2012/ 07/berea_circus_company_of_juggle.html
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Invites Texas to The Biggest Shaving Cream Pie Fight On Earth in Guinness World Records® Attempt Thousands of Pies to Fly as The Greatest Show On Earth® Raises Awareness and Funds for Two Premier Metroplex Clowning Programs
press release from: marketwatch.com DALLAS, July 5, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® invites families and businesses to join in ultimate shaving cream chaos on Tuesday, July 31, 6:00 p.m. as The Greatest Show On Earth® teams up with two premier Texas clowning programs in a Guinness World Records® attempt for the largest shaving cream pie fight ever held. The event will take place outside American Airlines Center in AT&T Plaza. The arena is located at 2500 Victory Avenue, Dallas, TX 75219.
The Biggest Shaving Cream Pie Fight On Earth is a celebratory event to kick-off International Clown Week and the Dallas/Fort Worth debut of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents FULLY CHARGED(SM). According to Clowns of America International, August 1-7 is "International Clown Week," which honors the charitable activities of clowns and clowning, as first proclaimed by the late Richard Nixon in 1971. Ringling Bros. Clown Alley will pay tribute to Children's Medical Center's Funnyatrics therapeutic clown program and Lewisville Life and Fire Safety Clowns. All three clowning teams will provide pie-ing tips and lead participants in the Biggest Shaving Cream Pie Fight On Earth with the hopes of shattering the current record. The largest shaving cream pie fight is a new record category, and has a minimum requirement of 684 participants. It is based on the old record for the largest custard pie fight, which has since been rested due to concerns about wasting food. The largest custard pie fight record was held by Drake University, and was held at the Olmsted Student Center Parking lot in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 9, 2011. At the July 31 event, a Guinness World Records® adjudicator will be in attendance to declare whether or not the current world record has been defeated. read more at: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ringling-bros-and-barnum-bailey-invites-texas-to-the-biggest-shaving-cream-pie-fight-on-earth-in-guinness-world-records-attempt-2012-07-05
Eight-year-old Channa Eisenbach, of Litchfield, talks with Joe Barney, of Bridgeport, dressed as P.T. Barnum, during P.T. Barnum's 202th birthday party at Beardsley Zoo Thursday, July 5, 2012. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post FROM: ctpost.com Ayla Zuraw-Friedland Friday, July 6, 2012 BRIDGEPORT -- For youngsters in a Middletown summer camp, a visit to the Beardsley Zoo Thursday had the usual attractions -- peacocks and llamas, tigers and a lynx. But there was something else, too -- the jaunty tune of circus music announcing the special event of the day. For the first time the annual Barnum Festival held its traditional magic show at the zoo. "We saw a lynx, llamas, and peacocks, but the tigers were the best," said 9-year-old Kai Cottle. "The magic show was really cool, too," added his friend, Kalen Martin, also 9, as he readjusted his newly acquired plastic clown nose, given out as part of "Barnum's World of Wonder and Magic" in honor of P.T. Barnum's 202nd Birthday Bash.
Nine-year-olds Kai Cottle, left, and Kalen Martin, of Middletown, wear clown noses to pay tribute to P.T. Barnum during his 202th birthday party at Beardsley Zoo Thursday, July 5, 2012. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
The show was designed to entertain while telling the story of Barnum's achievements and the impact of his philanthropic endeavors, both locally and internationally. It was held on the Peacock Pavilion stage, one of the prime attractions of the zoo.
Kathy Maher, executive director of the Barnum Museum, said the damage from the 2010 tornado forced museum officials to find a new venue for the event.
"The zoo was a perfect choice," said Gregg Dancho, Beardsley Zoo director. "It includes both the excitement of the circus and the history Barnum had with the land the zoo is on now."
Crystal Cox (left) and Tashina Knott set up their popular “Lemonade Shake-Up” booth Thursday afternoon in preparation for the Clinton County fair. The women said they expect to sell at least 100 shake-ups each day. (News Journal photo/Audrey Ingram) By ROSE COOPER Staff Writer from: wnewsj.com 7/5/2012 The 2012 Clinton County, Ohio Fair officially opens on Sunday, July 8 and continues through Saturday, July 14 and will feature a variety of fun for all ages. For the last several years the fair ran for eight days but it was changed back to seven days this year. While the fair is not officially open on Saturday, three competitions will be held, along with the tradition of serving a barbecued chicken dinner which is being brought back this year by the New Vienna Buckeyes 4-H Club. Dinner will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday in the 4-H dining hall. The first of three Junior Fair horse shows will be held on Saturday and will begin at 8 a.m. in the horse arena near the Nelson Avenue gate. The Senior Fair flower show judging will get underway at 1 p.m. Saturday in Expo Hall, and the Senior Fair open steer/heifer/feeder calf show will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Livestock Expo building. Entry will be free, but rides and vendors are not guaranteed, said Scot Gerber, president of the Senior Fair board. read more at: http://wnewsj.com/main.asp?SectionID=49&SubSectionID=156&ArticleID=200029
Camille Wheat Sacramento Contemporary Art Examiner July 5, 2012 The 159th California State Fair is coming to Sacramento at its permenate location at the CAL EXPO. The dates are July 12th -29th, 2012, the hours Mon-Thurs 10 am-10 pm and Fri-Sun 11 am- 10 pm. $15.00 dollars General admission.
There are special discount days for Seniors, Fridays, $8.00 , Kids, Tuesdays, 12 and under are free, and Wells Fargo Savings Day, Wednesdays, $6.00 for all.
The State Fair has more than carnival rides for kids and a midway for the adults. There are exhibits from all over California in subjects of both business and acedmics. Forestry replanting of the devasted forests to the newest technologies avialable for the consumer.
There are also plenty of food venues as well as other types of consumer booths to explore. Concerts and other types of entertainment for all individuals and family to enjoy.
Published on Jul 2, 2012 by SarasotaDay Presented by Circus Sarasota and the Ringling Museum of Art. For six fun-filled weeks in June and July, the entire spectrum of the Ringling legacy is on full display when the curtain goes up on the annual Summer Circus Spectacular at the Historic Asolo Theater. Presented each year in collaboration with Circus Sarasota, the Summer Circus Spectacular provides delightful—and affordable—summer entertainment for "children of all ages." www.circussarasota.org www.ringling.org http://www.sarasotaday.com/
Alex Ruiz, of Bethlehem, 16 months old, runs through the sprinklers to cool off Tuesday afternoon at the 63rd annual Kutztown Folk Festival at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS from: leighvalleynews.com By Express-Times staff Tuesday, July 03, 2012 The Kutztown Folk Festival is in its 63rd year of entertaining crowds with craft demonstrations, rides, hay mazes, animals and music. The festival runs daily through Sunday at the Kutztown Fairgrounds.
Many of the craft stands are clearly marked and located under tents at the 63rd annual Kutztown Folk Festival Tuesday afternoon at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS
Many fair goers took refuge from the sun and rode on a Mule Driven Carousel at the 63rd annual Kutztown Folk Festival Tuesday afternoon at the Kutztown Fairgrounds.Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS
A hay bail maze is one of many attractions at the 63rd annual Kutztown Folk Festival Tuesday afternoon at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS
David Burnett, age 2, of Manassas, Va., pets a sheep after it was sheared during a sheep shearing demonstration Tuesday afternoon at the 63rd annual Kutztown Folk Festival at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS
Hex signs of many types are for sale during the 63rd annual Kutztown Folk Festival Tuesday afternoon at the Kutztown Fairgrounds. Express-Times Photo | BILL ADAMS
Incredible juggling skills demonstrated by Francis Brunn. Includes the famous "impossible trick". Youtube compression has made the quality quite a lot worse than the original unfortunately, but hey, enjoy (or else)
One Drop’s Exceptional Eight gunning for $18 million win at the Rio
The Extraordinary Eight of Antonio Esfandiari, Brian Rast, Bobby Baldwin, David Einhorn, Guy Laliberte, Sam Trickett, Richard Yong and Phil Hellmuth at the World Series of Poker’s the Big One for One Drop at the Rio on Monday, July 2, 2012. Photo: Neil Stoddart/World Series of Poker from: lasvegasweekly.com Robin Leach Tue, Jul 3, 2012
It was a long, brutal and nerve-wracking 12-hour Monday, and today’s extravaganza will be even more intense as eight exceptional men try to outplay one another in the Big One for One Drop poker tournament at the Rio to win the largest-ever prize purse in a sports event. More than $40 million is in the pool, with $18,346,673 going to the champion.
World Series of Poker - Guy Laliberte at the World Series of Poker's the Big One for One Drop at the Rio on Monday, July 2, 2012.
That man could be Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil with its seven shows here on the Strip who created this richest entry event in poker history. Forty-eight well-heeled players ponied up $1 million each to participate. By the end of Day 1 on Sunday, 11 players lost $11 million. By the end of Day 2 early today, another 29 had fallen by the wayside.
By Jake Lucas Suburban Life Publications Jul 03, 2012 Batavia, IL — What do you get when you combine acrobatics, magic, drumming, clowns and roller skates? Apparently, comedy. At least, that’s the idea behind Circo Comedia, the Canadian duo coming to the Batavia Fine Arts Center this Friday. Circo Comedia consists of Jean Saucier, who started his career delivering newspapers on a unicycle, and Patrick Cote, an “expert on roller skates,” according to the group’s website.
In the style of the Quebec Circus, their act consists of Saucier doing his best to put on a show of magic and acrobatics while Cote does his best to be his assistant, but turns out to be an unfortunately imperfect one. The fast-faced, 60-minute performance is great for families.
If you have children and you've come to Rehoboth Beach, DE, you know all about Funland. Back in 1962, Al Fasnacht, his mother, father, and brother Don bought Funland. The family's been running this wonderful place ever since. About 100 people work here during the summer, summer, and at last count, 29 of them Fasnacht family members. Al is now past 80 years old, but still loves his life's work:
"It's being able to work together as a family; we count our blessings daily in that regard. We've been blessed with good high school and college kids who come here and work with us and become a part of our summer family. And it's very rewarding to provide clean, safe, affordable family fun for so many years."
Meet the Big Cat Trainer at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus
Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Presents Dragon Photo credit: Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Ella Batalon, LA Photojournalist Examiner from: Los Angeles Examiner July 3, 2012 The greatest show on Earth begins on Wednesday, July 11, with "Dragons" at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Along with your ticket purchase visitors will have the opportunity to go back stage in the arena before the show and meet all the animals and performers.
One notable performer is "The Big Cat Trainer and Presenter", Alexander Lacey, with his rare and unique show of two different big cat breeds—lions and tigers performing together in one arena.
Although Ringling Brothers have their own big cats, Lacey uses his own cats for his special type of show. All the lions and tigers performing with him in the arena have been bred and raised at his family's breeding program in England.
Alexander Lacey grew up on a not-so-typical English farm. His parents once owned two zoos, their own circus and a breeding program for rare big cats. Lacey and his two younger brothers grew up with lion cubs, tiger cubs, bear cubs and baby chimpanzees as playmates. read more at: http://www.examiner.com/article/meet-the-big-cat-trainer-at-ringling-brothers-barnum-and-bailey-circus
The circus is in town from: mysanantonio.com July 3, 2012
After disembarking their train cars, elephants of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus prepare to walk past spectators on their way to the Alamodome, Tuesday, July 3, 2012, at Sunset Station in San Antonio. Photo: Darren Abate, Darren Abate/for The Express-News / SA
Elephants of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus walk down the McAllister Freeway access road on their way to the Alamodome, Tuesday, July 3, 2012, in San Antonio. Photo: Darren Abate, Darren Abate/for The Express-News / SA
An elephant of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, its eye barely visible at upper-right, looks out of its train car window, Tuesday, July 3, 2012, at Sunset Station in San Antonio. Photo: Darren Abate, Darren Abate/for The Express-News / SA
An elephant of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus disembarks from its train car, Tuesday, July 3, 2012, at Sunset Station in San Antonio. Photo: Darren Abate, Darren Abate/for The Express-News / SA
A member of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus greets spectators as the circus train pulls into Sunset Station, Tuesday, July 3, 2012, in San Antonio. Photo: Darren Abate, Darren Abate/for The Express-News / SA
Circus BellaCircus brings a traditional outdoor one-ring circus to Oakland
by Yirmeyah Beckles
Juy 2, 2012
A circus has come to town—a dancer rounds dozens of hula-hoops on her hips, one woman swings from a trapeze, another treads a fine line on the slack rope and a clown puts up a formidable act for the audience.
Circus Bella, a one-ring outdoor circus comprised of 13 troupe members and several live musicians, performed for over 100 people on Thursday outside of Revolution Café just off of 17th Street. The circus, formed in 2008 by David Hunt (whose act is the slack rope) and Abigail Munn (who performs on trapeze), has a clear goal: to bring an accessible and high quality circus to the Bay Area and present it in an outdoor setting.
“Kids go to circus camp everywhere, and there’s circus shows for people, but you don’t really see it,” Hunt said. “Or you have to pay $20 to go to a theater and it’s like really dark and its kind of obscure or it’s in the night clubs. … Circus culture—the idea is around everywhere, but it’s not being created traditionally here. For us, it was ‘Let’s put it back in the ring and get a live band.’”
The approach didn’t go unnoticed. “It’s amazing and awesome and funny,” said Nicos, a student at North Oakland Community Charter School who came to see the show on Thursday. “The other circus I went to was in a tent. This was outside.”
N.J. State Fair Meadowlands celebrates Fourth of July with fireworks display
BY PATTY BUCHANAN
03 July 2012 What:
To celebrate the Fourth of July, State Fair Meadowlands will host two spectacular fireworks shows. Families will be able to enjoy rides, food and games while watching the show. This year’s fireworks are provided by Garden State Fireworks, run by the Santore Brothers, who have been in the fireworks business in NJ since the 1890s.
“State Fair’s Fourth of July fireworks are colorful, loud and magnificent—a wonderful way to celebrate our nation’s birthday. We welcome everyone in the area to come and enjoy a night of festive lights, sounds and color,” said Michele Tartaglione, Managing Director of State Fair Meadowlands.
Where and When:
State Fair Meadowlands, Meadowlands Fairgrounds next to Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ.
July 3 and 4. The fireworks show will begin after 10:30 p.m..
About State Fair Meadowlands
State Fair Meadowlands is the largest fair in the New York metro area, with over 150 rides and attractions occupying over 35 acres of fairgrounds plus parking. This year’s fair features thrilling rides, free entertainment – including the Big Cat Show, the Live Shark Experience, Racing Pigs and Circus Maximus – and acres and acres of food vendors. Special discounts and promotions include Kids Go Free Night, Midnight Madness, Cheap Cheap Night and Patron Appreciation Day.
02 Jul 2012 RAVENNA, Ohio (CNN/WKYC) - Ding dong, who is there? A bear? An Ohio homeowner says he was doing yard work when a black bear rang his doorbell. He grabbed his camera and snapped some photos and video of the bear exploring his yard.
"That's when I walked around the side of the house and here he comes. And I'm thinking - he either ate the person who rang that door bell - or he's the one who rang it," said Dan Lintz. The bear appeared to weigh about 200 pounds. He eventually ran back into the woods.
News Republic staff
July 3, 2012
A new book tells the stories of the people of Hartford, Conn., in the years after a 1944 circus fire that claimed the lives of nearly 170 people.
“The Greatest Show,” a book by author Michael Downs, delves into the aftermath of the Hartford fire. Downs teaches creative writing at Towson University in Maryland and is a Hartford native.The book paints a portrait of the city over five decades, according to its website
This book can be purchased from Amazon.com
There is a link at the Balloonman's bookstore that
will take you there.
It certainly would be appreciated if you were thinking
of purchasing this book to buy it at Amazon thru this link.
As the blog does earn a small commission and every
BLAZE AT THE BIG TOP: Woman recalls horror of 1944 Hartford, Conn., circus fire
The crowd rushes from a flaming Ringling Brothers tent during the 1944 Hartford circus fire, which claimed the lives of nearly 170 people and injured more than 700 others. from: wiscnews.com/baraboonewsrepublic Tim Damos, News Republic July 3, 2012 As the crowd rushed from the blazing circus tent, 10-year-old Catriona Sieracki stood frozen at the edge of the grandstand.
She knew her only chance to make it out of the inferno alive was to jump from the bleachers onto the lions’ cage, then get to the ground and dash for daylight.
But she couldn’t muster the courage to leap.
A man who had been sitting next to her as the Flying Wallendas performed their death-defying stunt act — before the fire broke out — now stood behind Sieracki as the audience flocked toward the exits.
“I just remember he gave me a push,” she said. That forced her to hop down and escape the tent before it was fully engulfed.
Sixty-eight years later, Sieracki said she never learned the man’s name and doesn’t know what became of him. But she recalls many details of the historic blaze, which occurred on July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Conn., and claimed the lives of almost 170 people.
As she sat near several heat-damaged folding chairs that were recovered from the Hartford fire — now kept at Circus World’s Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center in Baraboo — Sieracki described her experience during what is known as the worst tragedy in circus history.
Sieracki’s tale of survival will soon become part of the historic record following a recorded interview with Circus World staff. Stars and Stripes
Now 78 years old and living in Manitowoc, Sieracki’s memory of that fateful day is remarkably vivid.
Over the years, she has told her version of events to friends and family in details so specific that when her son, Carl, finally saw a home camera’s grainy footage of the fire, it was exactly as he imagined.
“It was as if I had seen it before, because it was so well-described,” Carl said.
The 10-year-old Catriona — along with her mother and cousin — traveled from their home in the nearby city of New Britain to Hartford that hot summer day to see the Ringling Brothers Circus.
As she sat in the grandstand, Sieracki said, she saw fire streak across the opposite side of the tent. One of the Wallendas was on his way up to perform a stunt, she said, but began to descend as soon as he saw trouble.
Sieracki recalls the circus band began to play “Stars and Stripes Forever” — known as the circus disaster march — as her mother guided her out of the tent, which was the size of two football fields.
Circus World ringmaster David SaLoutos, who has researched the Hartford fire, said the band’s song switch was a circus tradition designed to alert staff to a problem without sending the audience into a panic.
“It’s the one piece every musician knows by heart,” he said.
Circus World’s library contains a piece of singed sheet music that was on the band leader’s music stand when the fire started.
Once outside in the hot sun, Catriona and her cousin were ordered to run about 400 feet from the tent and take cover in some bushes. Once her mother gave permission, they returned to the scene.
“We walked back,” Catriona said, recalling the sound of sirens. “There was nothing left but smoldering ashes... I just remember seeing the piles of ashes and it was still burning and hot.”
Catriona’s mother searched for a phone to call her husband. But in those days, when an emergency occurred, phone lines were occupied by first responders. She couldn’t get through.
Eventually, they drove to a nearby town to call him.
After taking the children home, Catriona’s mother — a trained Red Cross aide — went back to the scene to help victims. More than 700 people were injured in the blaze.
Five Ringling Brothers executives and employees were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Four were convicted but later pardoned. The circus paid nearly $5 million in claims to the victims and their families. ‘He saw a red man’
The Ringling Brothers’ tent had been coated with a flammable solution that was intended to protect it from rain. To matters worse, fire extinguishers that ordinarily were brought into the tent were left in the circus train that day.
Although most agree it was this unfortunate combination that allowed the fire to spread rapidly, the origin of the blaze has remained in doubt for the past 68 years.
Robert Dale Segee, a deranged former circus employee, confessed in 1950 that he had set the fire. A convicted arsonist, Segee said he unconsciously lit the tent after he experienced a nightmare.
“He saw a red man, and the red man would tell him to do things,” Circus World archivist Pete Shrake said.
Segee later recanted his confession. He was convicted of separate arson charges in Ohio, but never was proven guilty of setting the Hartford fire. Investigators doubted his confession because of his mental illness. A sense of gratitude
Catriona knew of a handful of people from her hometown who were killed in the Hartford fire, including a little boy who she described as “cute” and has never forgotten.
For years, certain events triggered her memory of the fire, including a circus in another town years later.
“When I walked into that tent, even though it was in a different town, it brought back all sorts of memories,” she said as she recalled a light that started to burn during that performance. “I was almost out of my seat when I saw that, but nothing happened.”
In the days leading up to the Hartford fire, Catriona had learned to play a song on the piano that was stuck in her head that day. To this day, the jingle makes her sick to her stomach.
Although many of her memories from that day are unsettling, Catriona remembers the man who nudged her from the grandstands with a sense of gratitude.
“Whoever he is, thank you,” she said.