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Sunday, August 18, 2013

KELLY-MILLER "SHOW GOES ON"

Show goes on — without protest
More than 900 attend Kelly Miller Circus, $1,000 goes to local organizations


TRI-COUNTY TIMES | TIM JAGIELO
The 4:30 p.m. performance was about two-thirds full on Wednesday.
Here, audience members watch clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs perform a comedy routine

from: tctimes.com
by Tim Jagielo
August 16, 2013
Holly — While the big tent for the Kelly Miller Circus is erected by man, machine and elephant, circus office manager Tavana Brown opens a thick binder full of inspection forms from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and pulls out a few.
The circus was inspected twice in July and also in March, and a veterinarian signed off on the condition of the animals before they left Ohio for Holly this week.
The circus performed twice in Holly, before moving on to four more shows in Michigan. This year, some Holly residents have joined the chorus criticizing the one-ring circus for their treatment of the animals. When they performed in Ohio, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had a presence in the form of protesters according to the Toledo Blade.
The Toledo Blade’s page, and a recent story in the Times received many comments against the circus, not necessarily concerning specific treatment by the Kelly Miller Circus, but the use of animals for entertainment at all.

TRI-COUNTY TIMES | TIM JAGIELO
Aerialist Rebecca Ostroff performs her final act “iron jaw” while the rest of the North Starlets spin high in the air.
“I believe using a wild animal, or any animal for pure profit is wrong,” said Heidi Gumbleton, who led the anti-circus charge in Holly. She didn’t plan on a physical protest this year, but plans to offer assistance to other Michigan communities the circus will travel to.
Brown is wearing a red sweatshirt embroidered with a Kelly Miller emblem, but otherwise the mobile office/box office is nondescript, save for the cords that hold drawers and cabinets closed when the trailer is moving. She’s passionate in her defense of the animal handlers Kelly Miller employees.
Outside, the circus offers a tour and interesting information on the animals. A group of around 12 gathered around aerialist and tour guide Rebecca Ostroff, who said the zebras’ stripes help confuse both predators and biting insects, and that they get darker as the zebras age. “We get to marvel at their spectacular beauty,” she said, instead of them becoming “lunch” for a predator.
She also spoke about the “terrorists” spreading misinformation about the circus. She did not name any organization specifically.

TRI-COUNTY TIMES | TIM JAGIELO
Mike Rice finishes his zebra show, while the song “Gangam Style” plays over the sound
At this circus, there are 10 animal handlers. Elephants, tigers and camels get their own handlers, and each is leased from a subcontractor who is also individually licensed by the USDA. Brown said each is investigated before they are hired.
The USDA investigators come unannounced, and will buy a ticket and watch at least one show without identifying themselves. She said the circus has been in compliance since at least 2007, when she became office manager. She said many of the previous citations were for improperly handled paperwork.
Though Kelly Miller itself is without significant violation for the past several years, elephant owners Carson & Barnes Circus have regular violations each year, all the way back to 1982, at least according to the PETA fact sheet.
But the show went on at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., as scheduled. Guests enjoyed themselves, children laughed at the clowns and gasped at the fire breather and aerialists. The animals performed as trained. There was no presence of protesters, at the earlier show.
Organizer Katy Hughes said there were no protesters at 7:30 p.m. either, and has never met one face-face.
 
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TRI-COUNTY TIMES | TIM JAGIELO
Jacob Kessler, a Kelly Miller Circus greeter, hands out balloons to attendees for the Wednesday afternoon show in Holly. Overall, there were 523 children’s tickets and 471 adult tickets sold for both performances.
Overall, 994 tickets were sold. Of the profits, 80 percent is going back to the Holly Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for the Dickens Festival, and the rest to the Holly Outdoor Recreation Coalition.

Hughes isn’t sure at this point if the boards from either organization will sponsor another visit, but Gumbleton said, “This is just the beginning for me if they plan to bring the circus back next year,” she said. “I’m not stopping.”

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