By Tracee Davis
The Carson & Barnes Circus is setting up at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds in rainy weather this morning amidst a significant group of citizens within the community calling for a boycott.
Controversy over the traveling act sprang up after an undercover investigator captured video of trainers physically and verbally abusing the show animals.
The Sheridan Jaycees, a local nonprofit group that sponsors philanthropic community events to include an annual Chrismas Shopping Tour and Earth Day Celebration, are acting as a sponsor for Carson & Barnes. Michelle Edwards, Jaycees President, issued a written statement saying they were contacted by the show several months ago and informed the circus would come to town with or without a sponsor, as Sheridan was slated for the traveling circuit this year. A portion of the proceeds from the circus performance goes toward the circus's sponsor, but if no sponsor is available, the circus simply retains all proceeds from the show.
Edwards said she contacted one of the owners of the circus when she heard the allegations of cruelty. Owner, Barbara Byrd said the group has not received any citations from the USDA for inhumane treatment of its animals. Byrd said the circus is routinely subject to heavy regulation and random inspections.
Edwards closed her statement by saying each person has a right to their opinion on the issue, and a choice as to whether or not they will attend tonight's events at 4:30 and 7:30 at the Fairgrounds.