2014 Convention



Saturday, September 18, 2010






Circus supporters meet for annual convention in Grand Rapids

Katy Batdorff The Grand Rapids PressChairman of the Circus Fans Association convention, Jim Fry, and State Chairman for the Joel E. Warner Top No. 20, Wendy Robertson, put together their Convention Wheel in the hospitality suite at Crown Plaza on 28th Street SE on Thursday. The Circus Fans Association has 2,000 members nationally and are advocates for the circus its performers and their animals. The convention starts today in Grand Rapids.

Posted on Grand Rapids News
on September 17, 2010 ACASCADE TOWNSHIP --
The circus isn't the only thing coming to town.
As Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey moves into Grand Rapids this weekend, 135 circus supporters plan to converge on the area to attend meetings, seminars and, of course, the circus.
Members of the Circus Fans Association will gather at the Crowne Plaza Hotel today through Tuesday for their annual convention.
They are just a segment of a varied mix of convention visitors in town this week, including judges, brides and members of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.
The Circus Fans events will include a 200th birthday party for P.T. Barnum, a question-and-answer session with the nephew of a former president of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, a discussion about animal safety, an auction of circus memorabilia and outings to area attractions.
About 2,000 members make up the association, which began in 1926. Members, who include doctors, lawyers, auto workers and retail executives, advocate for the circus. They fight to keep animals in the circus and provide a range of services for smaller circuses, including travel or medical assistance and meals.
The convention is held in a different city each year, with this year's stop in Michigan because President Pat Pagel is from Howell, said Jim Fry, the convention's chairman.
The event usually runs four to five days but was pared to three this year because of the economy, he said. Attendance also is a little lower, he said. Last year's convention brought in 175 people. About 135 are expected to this event.
Fry, who works in marketing and sales in Lansing, got involved in the organization 15 years ago after he learned his great-great-uncle, Joseph Warner, owned a circus in Michigan in the 1870s and traveled the world with the Barnum & Bailey circus before it joined Ringling Bros.
Fry said he always enjoyed the excitement of the circus. He once got up early so he could watch Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus unload its props and animals for a performance in the 1950s. In exchange for carrying water to the elephants, he received a free ticket.
"They had, not the best seats in the house, but tickets available, especially for kids who were helping out," he said.
On Saturday, a 200th birthday party will be held at Crowne Plaza Hotel for P.T. Barnum. The celebration will include food and drinks, as well as entertainment by the Circle City Sidewalk Stompers Clown Band from Indianapolis. Guests will watch a video presentation of Barnum's life, sing "Happy Birthday" and eat cake, Fry said.
A memorabilia auction Monday will include posters, books, videos and even an elephant stand or two, said convention spokesman Edward Limbach.
"The stuff comes out of the woodwork," he said.
The convention's "celebrity guest" is John Ringling North II, nephew of John Ringling North, president of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in the 1940s and '50s.
He became a cattle rancher in Ireland but wound up getting back into the circus business -- he has owned Oklahoma-based Kelly Miller Circus for the past three years, Limbach said.
Much of the convention will include meetings and seminars covering such topics as animal rights to the inside life of a circus promoter, but the overall atmosphere will be upbeat, Fry said.
"We try to maintain that aura of the circus throughout the convention," he said. "All in all, it's very much on the light side."
E-mail Kaitlin Shawgo:
Collective of clowns (and some tigers and acrobats, too)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Zing Zang Zoom at Van Andel Arena

When: 7 p.m. today; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Van Andel Arena, 130 W. Fulton St.

Tickets: $15 to $68; purchase them from the Van Andel box office, Ticketmaster ticket centers (at D&W stores and some Family Fare locations), call 1-800-745-3000 or go to

Circus Fans Association convention: Just Clown'n Around

When: Today through Sept. 21

Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 5700 28th St. SE in Cascade Township.

Registration: Visitors can register at the hotel for $200.

Events: Include a 200th birthday party for P.T. Barnum from 8-10 p.m. Saturday, a back-lot tour of the circus at Van Andel Arena from 12:30-2 p.m. Sunday, a question-and-answer session with the great nephew of the original Ringling Bros. from 9-10 a.m. Monday, and a circus memorabilia auction from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Monday.




ROYAL HANNEFORD CIRCUS Although the Royal Hanneford Circus has appeared at the Georgia National Fair for a number of years, each year is different with new and exciting acts! The circus is free to any Fairgoer. It features three performances daily and when the ringmaster calls the show, the big top is always full. Acts have ranged from high-wire acts to clowns and from wild animal performances to acrobats. Like the ringmaster says, Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All ages, get ready for the thrill of your life with the Royal Hanneford Circus!
Near the South Gate

Oct 7 – 8:00 pm

Oct 8-17 – 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm, 8:00 pm

Also performs at 2:00 pm Oct 9 & 16


Friday, September 17, 2010


Business owner's first love was circus
Philanthropist assisted many area nonprofits

FRED D. PFENING JR. 1925-2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
By Regina Garcia Cano

Fred D. Pfening Jr. was known for his generosity.Fred D. Pfening Jr. never got his elephant.
The Columbus businessman, philanthropist and circus enthusiast died Sept. 6. He was 85.
The former president of the Fred D. Pfening Co. in Columbus, Pfening was active in several local charities. But his true passion was the circus, said his son, Fred Pfening III.
"It was a hobby that got out of hand."
Pfening's love affair with the circus dated to his childhood. He produced a one-ring circus in his backyard when he was 11. He traveled with circuses, including Ringling Bros., during his high-school summers in the 1940s. He even owned a circus in the 1950s.
"I'm going to be a real ringmaster when I grow up," he told The Dispatchfor a story printed July 8, 1936.
"At some point, he thought it would be a good idea to buy an elephant," the younger Pfening recalled. "But my mom asked him, 'Who do you think is going to care for it?' because she knew she was going to get stuck with it.
"He never bought it, and that made my mother happy."
Pfening Jr. was a former president of the Circus Historical Society and a board member until his death.
Locally, he sat on the boards of COSI, the Riverside Hospital Foundation, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Friends of the Ohio State University Libraries.
"Fred was a community leader and a very generous man," said Terry Schavone, vice president of donor services and development at the Columbus Foundation.
Pfening and his wife, Lelia, set up the Fred and Lee Pfening Fund in 1993 to support six organizations: COSI, the Ohio Health Foundation, First Community Church, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Ohio State University Development Fund and the Circus World Museum Foundation in Baraboo, Wis.
Pfening did more than write checks, however, Schavone said. "He was very involved, very hands-on."
Pfening joined the family-owned Fred D. Pfening Co., which makes equipment for the wholesale baking industry, in 1948 and served as the company's president from 1954 to 1989.
Longtime friend Ward Hall, founder of the Florida-based World of Wonders Sideshow, described Pfening as a "very kind gentleman" who helped numerous people in the circus industry facing money troubles.
"If you want to start a circus, you start with $2million, and you will end up with $1 (million)," Hall joked. "Circuses, like Broadway shows, are not a wonderful investment."
In addition to his wife of 63 years, Pfening is survived by two sons, Frederic III and Timothy; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at First Community Church, 1320 Cambridge Blvd. in Marble Cliff.
A calliope will be playing outside.


Kelly Miller Circus sets up in Vernon Hills
The Kelly Miller Circus is coming to Vernon Hills, bringing with it clowns, elephants, jugglers and an aerial ballet act.
September 16, 2010
Summers were magical for John Ringling North II when he was a child because he toured with the family business -- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He left that world to become a cattle rancher in Ireland.
Four years ago, North purchased the Kelly Miller Circus for his wife, Shirley.
"I kind of like going back to the life I was born into," he said by phone from Ireland.
On Sept. 19, with the help of its elephants, the circus will set up its tent at Westfield Hawthorn Shopping Center, 122 Hawthorn Center, Vernon Hills, for performances at 2 and 5 p.m. Sept. 19, and 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20. The Vernon Hills Lions Club is hosting the visit.
The two-hour spectacle features international performers and lots of animals.
"We have tigers, elephants, two dog acts, and a dog and pony act," North said. "We also have an aerialist from Australia, two very funny clowns, a fantastic juggler and a very good camel act." An aerial ballet based on '50s music features an Elvis impersonator.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children in advance; $14 and $7 at the event.
Historic Union Pacific steam locomotive plans to pull circus train as part of regional tour
By Associated Press September 16, 2010
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — One of Union Pacific's historic steam locomotives will help deliver the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Denver later this month as part of a 2,200-mile tour of six states.
The No. 3985 "Challenger" steam locomotive is scheduled to pull the circus train from Speer, Wyo., to Denver on the morning of Sept. 28.
Then the world's largest operating steam locomotive will continue its tour of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Wyoming. It is scheduled to return home to Cheyenne, Wyo., on Oct. 14.
The "Challenger" locomotive is 122 feed long and weighs more than one million pounds. It also has a hinged frame to help it negotiate curves.
Magic of the stage: Circus stars put their best feats forward

Master illusionist David DaVinci, a young virtuoso, is the Illuscinator in The Greatest Show on Earth's newest edition, Illuscination. (Special to The Clarion-Ledger)
Sherry Lucas • • September 16, 2010
Prime the imagination and rev up the wonder: The circus is in town.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Illuscination camps out at the Mississippi Coliseum for five shows Friday through Sunday.
Guiding the audience through an awe-inspiring evening is "The Illuscinator," young magician David DaVinci, a Spokane, Wash., native now touring the country with his wife, Jamieleigh, his lead assistant.
In addition to illusion and transformations, DaVinci is a thread through a show that also includes: Viktoriya and Widny, the Empresses of the Air, the KungFu Kings who mix martial arts, strength and blind-folded courage; Anton and Alex, the Barons of Balance; the Salsations; the Clowning Caveagna Family; and animal acts Brian McMillan with his pack of lionesses and rare white lion and Ramon Esqueda and his Asian elephants.
DaVinci, 27, has been doing magic shows since grade school.
He spoke with The Clarion-Ledger about his background, magic, straitjackets and more.
Q: What set you on this magic path?
A: My brother got a magic kit for Christmas one year and ... when I was about 6 years old, I took that magic kit out of the closet, started playing with some of the tricks, realized it was kind of a cool way to show off unique talents without having to compete with my brother in sports.A friend of the family booked me for a grade school show. ... and that set me on the track to realize I could make money doing something I loved.By middle school, I realized it would become a full-time career. I started to enter contests and started creating my own magic routine, started networking with as many magicians as I could and tried to find a niche within the industry, which eventually turned out to be working with exotic birds.I went from school shows to theme parks to cruise ships to overseas and now, The Greatest Show on Earth.
Q: What appealed to you about magic?
A: There's something with magic that you don't get from any other art form. Maybe a Broadway show has a similar feel.But the idea of a magician being able to take somebody out of their everyday life and suspend their disbelief and create things that science proves is impossible, that everybody knows at their core is impossible, but show them that you can do it - it sounds cliche, but there's something very magical about that ability.
read more at:


As Oklahoma State Fair opens today, official already is planning ahead
Scott Munz, the Oklahoma State Fair vice president of marketing and public relations, says planning is a year-round effort of all involved in the Oklahoma State Fair. PHOTO BY DAVID MCDANIEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
The 2010 Oklahoma State Fair opens today, but Scott Munz, vice president of marketing and public relations, already is looking at existing concert tours to get an idea of entertainers he might want to sign for next year.
Oklahoman,September 16, 2010
How much planning has gone into the 2010 Oklahoma State Fair?
As Oklahoma State Fair opens today, official already is planning ahead Scott Munz' personal answer is "Twenty-three years.”
That's how long the fair's current vice president of marketing and public relations has been involved in the state fair.
And in a way the process is continuous. The 2010 Oklahoma State Fair opens today, but Munz already is looking at existing concert tours to get an idea of entertainers he might want to sign for next year.
"You always want to know 'Who's the next big thing?'” Munz said.
Rewind for a minute to 2007.
Munz was given the name James Otto, who some described as "a country singer and songwriter with a Southern rock heart.”
Munz signed him in November 2007 for the next year's state fair. As it turned out, Otto's "Just Got Started Lovin You” became the No. 1 song on Billboard's year-end 2008 hot country songs chart.
Typically the search will strengthen in late November to early December, when Munz meets with agents during the International Association of Fairs and Expositions convention in Las Vegas.
He said not a month goes by in which he isn't doing something related to the next state fair. Even though he doesn't release the talent lineup to the public until June, he likes to have it set by April 1. He does that to maintain a clause in the contract that gives the Oklahoma State Fair a 90-day protection and a 120-mile radius protection before that entertainer's appearance at the state fair.
"We don't want them playing too close, too soon because we want to try to keep that act special to the fair,” he said.
And that's just one facet of what he does.
"I'm not saying I'm working five days a week, eight hours a day on just the fair in January or February,” he said, "but I am working on it some because we start so early with the talent acquisition. We're doing our research, we're making offers, we're negotiating deals, we're working through contracts, so it always seems like some portion of my week is devoted to some aspect of the fair.”
The fair's parent company, Oklahoma State Fair Inc., which has a state fair division and a State Fair Park division, has about 100 employees. That swells to about 500 during the fair. Munz is one of six vice presidents, each overseeing different areas. So while he talks about planning for entertainers, each of the other vice presidents and other employees plan throughout the year in their areas.
For instance, someone will meet with exhibitors while they are at this year's fair to see if they would like to leave a deposit showing their intent to return for next year.
"It is a year-round operation that takes a great team of people,” Munz said.
Read more:


Josh Loftin of Collinsville, Oklahoma, competes in the bareback bronc event during the International Finals Youth Rodeo in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Photographer: Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman Friday, July 16, 2010.Read more:

Thursday, September 16, 2010



Olson Shows was a major rail show in the mid-west.
I'm guessing these pictures were taken about 1959 or 1950.

Part 2 comming tomorrow!


Emanuel Jr. Ruffin
Posted by Kimball Keller on September 14, 2010 at 8:55pm
My Dear Friend Jr. Ruffin has passed away.
He died of an apparent heart attack last night at home.
Jr. Was a legendary animal trainer and a recent inductee into the Circus Ring of Fame.
He worked as Clyde Beattys cage boy then as a trainer from what Clyde taught him.
He worked on Hoxie Brothers and Ringling as well as numerous other shows.
I will miss you terribly my dear departed friend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The Big E Super Circus, sponsored by Coca-Cola

Look for the NEW Big Top tent near the Giant Slide!
Three Free Shows Daily at 1, 4 & 7 p.m.
Your Ringmaster, David Michael Maas
Miss Vicenta’s White Tigers
David & Dania, A Magical Transformation
Kris Kremo, Juggler
Yelena Larkina’s Hula Hoop
Tempo Trapeze
Alexandra’s Net Trapeze
Raul Castano’s Comedy
The Grand Finale, A patriotic tribute to our homeland!

Our walkway of Circus Stars honors and highlights the performers who have headlined in The Big E Super Circus over the years. The following circus greats have been honored at our walkway.

Mark Karoly – 1992; Dolly Jacobs – 1996; Tommy Hanneford – 1997; Sylvia Zerbini – 1998; David Maas & Dania Kaseeva – 1999; Cesar Aedo – 2000; Pedro Carrillo – 2001; Svetlana Shamsheeva – 2003; Father Jack Toner; Circus Priest – 2004; The Great Wallendas 7-Man Pyramid – 2005; The Marinofs – 2006: Aleysa Goulevitch – 2007; The Flying Pages – 2008; Struppi Hanneford – 2009; Wayne McCary – 2009.


Cabarrus County Fair opens
By Meghan Cooke, Sept 15, 2010
The Cabarrus County Fair will make its annual run through Saturday.
Although today's fair-goers know the fair for its twirling rides and fried delicacies, the fair has a history tied to the county's agricultural roots that goes back as far as the 1800s.
Children's reactions to the lights and sounds are the same as they were on opening day in 1953, said Clarence Horton of Kannapolis, who was 13 when the fair opened.
"You still see their eyes light up," said Horton.
He remembers the rides - the first ferris wheel he'd probably ever seen, he said - and the games and food.
And as he got older, the fair became the popular place to go on dates.
There was just something magical about the fair, he said.
Up until eight years ago, the fair was planned and financed by an independent fair board.
But in 2002, the fair-became a county operation, becoming one of the few government-run fairs in the state.
That same year, the fair moved to its current location at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center.
Former Concord Mayor Harold McEachern was in his 20s when the fair opened in 1953.
He attributes the county fair's success to community involvement from local people, businesses and churches.
"If you take the community out of the fair, all you've got is a carnival," he said.
The fair will always be a special place, he said.
"You can go to a movie any time you want, but you can only go the fair once a year."
Read more:
Stars of the Doggies of the Wild West Variety show wait to go on stage at the Cabarrus County Fair. The fair runs Sept. 10-18 at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord. MEGHAN COOKE -