2014 Convention



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ringling Circus "Gold Unit" show set for Asheville date, website says

Tony Kiss •,
January 28, 2011, The Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, once among the biggest entertainment productions to be staged in Asheville, will return in March with its smaller Gold Unit show called “Zing Zang Zoom” at the Asheville Civic Center Arena.
The circus will play five performances March 31-April 3 at the Civic Center, according to the Ringling web site Tickets will go on sale Feb. 25. The show is not yet posted at or listed at the Civic Center’s own web site.
For circus fans who can’t wait, the Ringling Blue Unit show called “Funundrum” is playing this weekend at the Time Warner Arena in Charlotte. And the Red Unit show “Fully Charged” plays Feb. 2-5 at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.
In the 1980s and 90s, Ringling’s annual winter visits in Asheville regularly packed the house at the Civic Center, but the Blue and Red Unit shows were pulled in 1999 after the opening of the Bi-Lo Center. Since then, the more compact Gold Unit show has made several visits here.
New Shanghai Circus 'Stretches Limits of Human Ability' on Feb. 5
Community Theater, 100 South St, Morristown, NJ
The Community Theatre will offer two performances, at 3 and 7 p.m.
By Jessica Ercolino, January 28, 2011
Celebrate the Chinese New Year with the New Shanghai Circus–a touring company of acrobats, jugglers and contortionists from China–Feb. 5 at the Community Theatre. Shows are at 3 and 7 p.m.
The troupe “stretches the limits of human ability” by bringing 2,000 years of Chinese circus traditions to life, said theater spokesperson Katie Lemery.
Audience members can expect to see young women spinning six plates at a time atop sticks as they go through contortions without ever dropping a dish, she said. In another act, a young man juggles a huge jar–usually using only his back and shoulders–and catches it on his head, she said.
Those attending the show will marvel at the young woman who lies horizontally with no apparent support other than the point of a sword placed against the back of her neck, added Lemery.
The impressive “nose balance” act features a young woman balancing a glass of water on her nose and building a lofty glass structure of plates and glasses before beginning a series of acrobatic moves and walking across a bridge of light bulbs, said the spokeswoman.
With colorful costumes and unbelievable tricks, the performance is “very difficult not to like,” said Ed Kirchdoerffer, Community Theatre general manager.
“It’s very energetic and engaging,” he said. “They are superior athletes–the best in the world; for anyone who’s ever gone into the gym and couldn’t stretch their hands to their feet, they’re going to feel the pain.”
One of Kirchdoerffer’s favorite performances is the “chair ladder.”
“Basically, there are a bunch of stacked chairs from the stage up to the light rafters, and it ends with a performer doing a handstand at the top of probably 10 to 12 chairs,” he explained, and joked, “That’s why I don’t like to sit in the front row.”
The New Shanghai Circus is a great show for the family, according to the organizers. “Kids will love it, and seniors will love it,” Kirchdoerffer said. “It’s a neat thing to see what they can do, and it’s not an outrageous price for a ticket.”
Tickets are $25 for the 3 p.m. show, and $32 for the 7 p.m. show.
The Community Theatre, at the Mayo Center for the Performing Arts, is located at 100 South St., in Morristown. For tickets, call 973-539-8008 or visit For more information, call 973-539-0345, ext.6529.
Big top tradition: Shrine Circus features classic acts
The Amazing Bo, an Asian elephant, balances on a drum during a 2008 performance of the Shrine Circus.
By Joe Hadsall,Globe Features Editor, The Joplin Globe
January 28, 2011
JOPLIN, Mo. — Audrey Alvarado loves animals. Naturally, she loves the elephants.
As the ringmaster of the Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Circus, she gets a firsthand look at the elephants every night. Though much larger, they have the mannerisms and attitudes of puppies, she said.
“They are amazing creatures,” Alvarado said. “They are so lovable. Each one has their own separate character.”
The elephants will be featured alongside tigers, aerial artists, clowns, jugglers, acrobats and more during the circus, which will be at Memorial Hall until Sunday. Alvarado, who performs as ringmaster Audrey Michelle, will introduce the audience to each act.
Alvarado said the circus is the same type of circus that parents and grandparents remember from their youth. Only the lighting and music is modernized, she said.
That means there is plenty for kids to do. Before each show, kids can have their faces painted, jump on inflatables and ride ponies ÑÊor even those puppy-like elephants.
There’s not much in a circus that Alvarado hasn’t done. Her parents were hand balancers for a circus, and by the time she was 5 years old, she performed right alongside them. Growing up, she and her brother put together a riding animal act, and she also became an aerialist. She quit for a while as a teenager, finished high school and took some college classes.
But the lure of the circus was too strong.
“I couldn’t get away,” she said. “I got married to a man in the business, and now our family is in it.”
That man was an acrobat with the Golden Aztecs. The couple and their three children tour with the circus.
Other attractions in the circus include:
~ Tiger trainer Bruno Blaszak, a Polish trainer who emphasizes positive reinforcement in his act. According to the circus’ website, one of the things that makes Blaszak’s act different is that the tigers come to him from platforms.
~ “Princess” Elayne Kramer, a contortionist and fifth generation circus performer. At 17, she can shoot a balloon with a bow and arrow held by her feet, which are stretched behind her back and over her head while balancing by her hands on a small platform.
~ Karoly Zeman, a BMX bicyclist who performs stunts in the ring.
~ Clown Johnny Dominguez.
Want to go?
The Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Circus will be presented at 6:30 p.m. tonight and at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Memorial Hall.
Proceeds benefit the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners.
Lincoln County Fair in Fayetteville chosen No. 1 in Tennessee
January 28, 2011
(AP) — The Lincoln County Fair in Fayetteville has been chosen No. 1 in Tennessee.
It recently was named the Champion of Champions Fair for 2010. The fair also received the Award of Merit based on overall operations, educational value, promotion of local interest in agriculture and community spirit.
Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson recently presented awards to 56 of the state's top county agricultural fairs.
The annual awards are sponsored by the department and the Tennessee Association of Fairs.
According to a news release from the department, almost 3 million visitors attended county and regional agricultural fairs in Tennessee last year.
Thrills pay the bills
Circus fundraiser covers about half the yearly budget for Mizpah Shrine
Castle's Bears
The Flying Cortes Family
By Ellie Bogue of The News-Sentinel , Fort Wayne, IN
In what looked like an impossible move, the flying-trapeze artist spun three and a half summersaults into the grip of his partner. A cloud of chalk dust testified to the perfect catch.
The Cortes family was just one of the many acts that entertained area elementary school students during a performance Thursday morning of the Mizpah Shrine Circus. This is the 65th year for the circus, and according to Terry Bradner, assistant chair for the Shrine Circus Committee, the circus is their biggest fundraising event of the year.
“The lion's share of which we use to operate our local Mizpah Shrine organization,” Bradner said.
Bradner figures they raise 50 percent of their annual budget through this one event. He said over the next four days there will be 60,000 people coming to visit the circus, some of whom have been coming to the show for 40 years.
“It makes them feel like kids again to come back,” Bradner said.
Besides the circus, there is a free fair in the basement of Memorial Coliseum for guests to stroll through.
“Of course you can spend money there, too, but you don't have to,” Bradner said.
Bradner still considers the circus an entertainment value and said $5-off coupons are available to help cover ticket costs.
“A family of four only has to spend $20 to come to the circus,” Bradner said. “It's good clean fun for the family.”

Circus time
What: Mizpah Shrine Circus, featuring performers from the touring TZ Productions circus and members of the Peru Amateur Youth Circus from north-central Indiana.
When: 7 p.m. today; 10 a.m. and 2:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 5:45 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.

Friday, January 28, 2011


McLaren Circus is in town
from the George Herald
Fri, 28 January 2011
GEORGE NEWS - From poodles to pythons, clowns to ponies, magic to illusion, contortion to balancing acts and more! These are the performances that Georgians can expect from Mclaren Circus, starting this weekend and continuing till Sunday, 6 February.Their first show, at the George Show Grounds, is on Friday, 28 January at 15:00 and the last on 6 February at 15:00.
Get set for an hour and a half of absorbing action, suspense, surprise and hilarity. The shows are staged in the same wholesome family spirit that your parents and grandparents enjoyed and in which your children and children’s children will merrily revel in years ahead.
Tickets cost R40 (side benches), R60 (raised chairs) or R80 (ringside) per person. Show times are at 15:00 or 19:00 and the shows are 90 minutes in duration. The ticket office will be open daily from 10:00. Tickets are available only from the circus site at the Show Grounds. For bookings and more info, contact the circus mobile at 082 747 5726.
2011 Marin County Fair to celebrate 75th anniversary of Golden Gate Bridge
The Marin County Fair, long known for innovation and excellence, has just announced the Fair’s 2011 Schedule.
by SI News- 01.27.11
The Marin County Fair, long known for innovation and excellence, has just announced the Fair’s 2011 headline entertainment. This year’s headline acts will provide fairgoers with an exciting mix of music featuring popular bands that will appeal to all ages and all tastes.
The Marin County Fair, which has once again earned top recognition at the Western Fairs Association (WFA) 48th Annual Achievement Awards, runs June 30-July 4th and will kick off the 75th anniversary celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge.
In celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary, the Marin County Fair will showcase this world famous landmark in a number of fascinating and educational ways through exhibits at the Golden Gate Pavilion, video contests, information on the original builders, contests for kids, and many other 75th anniversary events.
Marin County Fair will, as in past years, be packed with multimedia presentations, global stage performers, competitive exhibits, award-winning arts and crafts, gardens, special cooking demos, a barnyard with farm animals, racing pigs, carnival rides, nightly fireworks and popular headline entertainment included with the price of admission.
For information:

One Ring Of Shrine Circus Includes Peru Performers
By Maureen Mespell
January 27, 2011



Widow remembers circus master with gathering at Kingston Mosque

Souad Houssain was married to Ali Hassani for 19 years
Friday 28th January 2011
From The Surrey Comet
By David Lindsell »
The widow of a circus legend joined fellow Muslims at Kingston Mosque to remember him a year after his death.
As a child, Ali Hassani was kidnapped from his home in Morocco by a troupe of acrobats, picking up the tricks of the tumbling trade as they travelled around the globe.
His family appeared in the film Octopussy, earning the friendship of James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli.
At Chessington World of Adventures, he mentored hundreds of young acrobats, many of whom came back to Kingston for his funeral when he died aged 82.

Ali Hassani as a boy (second from left) in the Hassani troupe

Social workers from Kingston Council also revealed he and his wife Souad Houssain, Hassani's real surname, had also fostered dozens of young people.
His widow from his second marriage, family, acrobats and friends held a gathering at the mosque on January 14 to commemorate his life, dine together and say prayers for him.
Mrs Houssain, 50, of Ruxley Lane, West Ewell, said: "He was a gorgeous man and unique. All of his children remember him all the time.
"Everybody at the mosque prays for him."
His first pupil, Ali Ibrahim, said: "I just remembered everything. He is still a big loss."
To carry on her husband's good work, Mrs Houssain donated money to charitable causes in Marrakesh, where he was born.
She said her husband went back many times but he was never able to track down his family, instead devoting much of his life to helping others become acrobats and giving money to beggars in the city.
Ali Hassani meeting the Duke of Edinburgh

Mrs Houssain said: "I sent some money to my mum and she took it to Marrakesh to give to those people.
"They are all blind and this is the only way they can get money."
Commenting on the worldwide reaction to his death, which included plaudits from the Morroccan ambassador and a pilgrimage of circus masters to his funeral in Surbiton, she said: "I was a little bit surprised but I know him.
"That was the best 19 years of my life.
"His memorial is the circus and the people that came through."
His first wife Tamara, daughter of Coco the Clown, probably the most famous clown in British history, died in 1988.

Just another school day for children of circus performers

Written bySherry Barkas
The Desert Sun
Jan. 28, 2011
Children of Circus Vargas employees pose for a photo by their mobile classroom on Thursday behind the Westfield mall in Palm Desert. The seven students in this class are between the ages of 8 and 16. Class is taught by Jessica Chickos, who travels with the circus. / Richard Lui The Desert Sun
Growing up around clowns, living in an RV for 11 months of the year and going to school in a teeny makeshift classroom may not sound glamorous, but to 13 children whose parents perform in Circus Vargas it's a great lifestyle.
The circus set up its big blue tent Wednesday at Westfield Palm Desert, with shows tonight through Feb. 7.“I enjoy this lifestyle,” said Mariella Quiroga, 13, the daughter of Circus Vargas owners and trapeze artists Katya Quiroga and Nelson Tabares. “We get to go to different places.”Born in the circus, Mariella wants to follow in her parents' footsteps, but at her mother's urging knows first she must get her education.Katya Quiroga, who has spent 20 of her 40 years with the circus, said education is the priority for her three children. She wants them to go to college and spend a couple of years away from the circus to see what else is out there and then decide if they want to make the circus their life.Circus Vargas kids attend school in a classroom about the size of a small bathroom in the back end of a semi-trailer. At 10 a.m. Thursday, kids had their books open, were pinning maps to the walls and setting up the classroom.With barely enough room to turn around, the kids don't seem to mind the cramped schoolroom decorated with a photo of Justin Bieber. They share metal tables and benches set up on each side of the semi.School starts at 9 a.m. for kids in fourth grade up, and after lunch for the first- through third-graders. The older kids stay until 3 p.m. and the younger ones until 4 more at:
At 80, world's oldest clown has no plans of quitting
By Marie-Laure Michel, Agence France-Presse
January 16, 2011
At 80, the world's oldest clown has given up tightrope walking but Oleg Popov, the most famous Soviet-era jester, still tours half of the year and has no plans to hang up his trademark red nose.
"The Sun Clown," as he is also known, never fails to enthrall young and old with his oddball character based on a figure from Russian folklore -- one who appears stupid but really isn't.
"I love to make people laugh, also in private," the Russian told AFP on a recent tour in The Hague. "I am very happy, if I could live my life over, I would become a clown all over again."
As the drums rolled under the travelling big top of the Great Russian State Circus, the ringmaster heralds "the one, the only, the unique Oleg Popov!"
To loud applause, a small man with a shock of straw-coloured hair under a black-and-white checkered cap shuffles into the ring -- just as he has done for six decades.
Alone in the spotlight, Popov -- who in 1981 won the Golden Clown award, the "Oscar" of the circus world -- chants softly in Russian, clutching an old umbrella handle sprouting a bunch of multi-coloured balloons.

His black jacket is too short, his red, blue and black-striped pants stop at his calves. His bow tie, like his nose, is red and his face lightly made up.
Between performances of hoop-jumping poodles, flying acrobats and a trained elephant, Popov entertains with a trick that sends soup ladles flying into ice buckets.
Read more:

Thursday, January 27, 2011



The circus is coming back to town.

Sherry Jan. 26, 2011
Circus Vargas returns Friday for an 11-day stay at Westfield Palm Desert with an animal-free show that includes performers from all over the world.The show brings thrill riders, clowns, trapeze artists, acrobats and more under the Big Top.
What it doesn't have is animals.Circus Vargas hasn't had exotic animal acts, such as tigers, for many years, but did have horse and dog acts, Marketing Director Emily Lavender said.
In 2010, when the show was given a makeover, those acts were omitted.“The new show was more fast-paced and modern, and the animal acts can slow it down some,” she said.“It worked, and people like it a lot,” she said.It also appeals to people who typically don't go to the circus over animal abuse concerns, Lavender said.
The Garcia Thrill Riders return, but take their death-defying act to a new level in a new show only Circus Vargas attendees will see, Lavender said.The Garcia family ride their motorcycles through “The Globe of Death” metal sphere at extremely fast speeds. This year, the globe splits into three sections, and they ride around the center section that is floating in the air, Lavender said.
Also new this year is an aerial balancing act.
Returning acts include Matti the Clown with new routines and the Flying Tabares of Argentina trapeze act with Circus Vargas owners Nelson Tabares and Katya Quiroga.
Thirty minutes before each show, former “Amazing Race” contestant Jon Weiss will host a preshow look into the world of Circus Vargas, inviting children of all ages from the audience to join him onstage, Lavender said.
Attendance in Palm Desert last year was so great that Circus Vargas decided to nearly triple its stay from four days to 11.“Nearly every show was sold out, and we wanted to be sure that everyone had the opportunity to see the circus that wants to,” Lavender said.
Military Families Enjoy Night At The Circus

Photo by ET1(SW/AW) Marty Parsons
Sailors assigned to Naval Station Mayport proudly display colors during the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus' Military Appreciation Day show.
January 26, 2011
By MC2(AW) Gary Granger Jr., Naval Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Southeast
Hundreds service members and their families enjoyed a night under the big top at the annual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus “Salute To The Troops” on Jan. 22 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.Before the show, families selected through a prize drawing from the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Centers at NS Mayport, NAS Jacksonville and NSB Kings Bay were given the chance tour back stage before the show started. The families met clowns, acrobats, and even got a chance to pet a zebra.Tom Ford, general manager of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, said honoring the troops is something that happens at every Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. “We’re real pleased to have our military to come out and visit us,” he said. “This is our chance to thank them personally along with the honor guard here opening the show.” The circus began with a group of clowns entertaining the crowds and followed by the ringmaster who welcomed the attendees to the circus. As the Naval Station Mayport Honor Support Team presented the colors during the national anthem, an elephant also paraded to the floor display the nation’s colors.

Photo by ET1(SW/AW) Marty Parsons
Military children from NS Mayport pose for a picture with a clown during the pre-show activities.
Electronics Technician 2nd Class Ryan Fischer, stationed with his wife on Naval Station Mayport, is a member of the base honor support team. Fischer said he was very glad for the chance to be at the circus parading the colors. “I volunteered to be here,” said Fisher. “I’ve never been to a Barnum and Bailey Circus so it’s a great experience and I’m glad I took the opportunity."Carol Griggs, a civilian worker and retired service member at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, said she appreciated Ringling’s gesture, which allowed her grandchildren to attend the show. “We just never had an opportunity to go,” said Griggs. “Our kids are all grown up so we called our grandchildren and asked them if they wanted to go to the circus and they said, ‘Yay!’”She and her grandchildren, Mackenzie, Madison and A.J., had never been to “the big top.” All three children were awestruck throughout the backstage experience. “Awesome,” was the word of choice throughout the day. Carol’s husband, Bob Griggs, was very impressed at how the military and the circus have a lot in common. They both have members from around the nation and assets from around the world. Both are highly trained units that perform sometimes unimaginable feats and handle complex logistical details in carrying out their mission. “This was great,” he said, “Stuff you didn’t know like the train that the circus came in on being a mile long, it was really interesting they showed us a lot of stuff that we didn’t know on how they operated.” “I’d like to see them do this for a long time,” he added. “I bet a lot of kids would love to be able to see this.Read more at

Ready for thrills, fun at the Mizpah Shrine Circus?
Circus performers - including amateur youths from Peru - are set to entertain you

The Black Angels African acrobatic troupe will defy gravity as they entertain circus attendees.
By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel
This year's Mizpah Shrine Circus will have a decidedly Hoosier feel to it.
The featured acts include about 30 performers from the Peru Amateur Youth Circus in Peru, off U.S. 24 at U.S. 31 in north-central Indiana.
“It almost doubles the size of our show,” said Larry Solheim, general manager of circus company TZ Productions. Performances will take place Thursday through Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.
The Peru youth circus acts include a human pyramid that seven young women perform on the high wire.
“It's very unique,” Solheim said.
Youth circus members also will perform on unicycles and in other acts, he said.
“We are trying to draw attention to a great thing there in Peru,” he said of the youth circus.

Lions and tigers are crowd favorites at Mizpah Shrine Circus shows.

About 250 young people ages 7-21, along with a group of adult, junior and kiddie clowns, present 10 circus performances each July during the Circus City Festival in Peru, it said on the festival website, The youth acts also go on the road during the summer to perform in Indiana and elsewhere.
The program, which was founded in 1960, strives to help youths in the Peru area develop confidence, responsibility, self-esteem, teamwork and lasting friendships, the website said. The youth program and festival also preserve Peru's rich past as a winter home for major circuses.
Performing at this week's Shrine Circus gives the young people experience working in a professional show, and possibly the inspiration to pursue a circus career, Solheim said.
“Maybe in the future we can work with them every year,” he added.
Solheim promises the rest of the circus show will be even more exciting than past years.
“We have more animals and more things in the air than we've ever had in Fort Wayne,” he said.
Along with lions, tigers, horses and elephants, animal acts will include dogs, alligators and snakes, Solheim said.
Flying-trapeze artists also will share air space with the Black Angels African acrobatic troupe, Ringmaster Joseph Bauer performing in the Giant Space Wheel, and motorcycle riders who race up wires and around near the ceiling, Solheim said.

Circus Monkey Doubles as a Multitouch Projector (Wait, What?)
By Nick Mediati, PCWorld Jan 26, 2011 12:09 PM

There are weird gadgets, then there are weird gadgets. But this one falls under "awesome-yet-mildly-disturbing." The guys over at Engadget ran across a video of a bizarre circus-themed multitouch projector...thing. The concept behind the UrRobot Robii is pretty cool--it projects an image onto a surface, and detects your finger taps and swipes as multitouch gesture.

But the gadget itself? What is this I don't even...

Sometimes no words are needed. Just...just watch the video.
Nev. may join Mich. as only states without fair
January 26, 2011
RENO, Nev. (AP) - Nevada soon could join Michigan as the only states in the nation without a state fair.
Organizers of Nevada's 136-year-old fair say its ongoing financial troubles worsened with slumping attendance last August and it likely won't be able to continue this summer without some help.
The nonprofit fair's board of directors scheduled a meeting in Reno Friday to provide details and try to develop ideas to save the event that has been held every year since 1874.
"If we don't fix the situation we're in, in all likelihood there won't be a fair," executive director Rich Crombie said.
"The fair was already in a fragile state going into last year," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Michigan ended its 160-year-old fair last year due to the sour economy.
"We haven't lost any others besides Michigan," said Jim Tucker, president of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions based in Springfield, Mo.
"And it wasn't a failed fair, it was a failed state. The state of Michigan got into serious economic trouble," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "No others are on the chopping block I have heard of."
Nevada's fair is a state-sanctioned event but receives no state or federal money. It was renamed last year as the Nevada Territory Wild West Fair in an effort to return more to its agricultural roots and spur new interest in the general public.
The bad economy combined with bad weather contributed to the low attendance of about 30,000 people instead of the 50,000 they'd hoped for at the Reno Livestock Events Center just northeast of downtown, Crombie said.
"The fair has kind of been stuck in the mud, which is why we revamped it, but it takes a while to pull it out. It takes time to get it established to where people understand what it is," he said.
Last year's fair still had the traditional carnival midway, food, demolition derby and livestock attractions. But it also included new themes such as Civil War reenactments, military camps, folklore, cowboy poetry and a new Branson, Mo.-based Wild West Show, which featured chuck wagon races, trick ropers and characters like Wyatt Earp coming to life.
The fair also tried to draw visitors with ticket coupons and free parking, which Crombie said might have actually contributed to revenue shortfalls. He declined to discuss specifics before Friday's meeting.
Lauren Neil, who was the Nevada State Fair Queen in 2008, said she has gone to the fair every year since she was a child and cared for livestock when she was growing up.
"I love the state fair," she said. "It would break my heart to see it not go on. It's a huge part of Nevada.
From: McLaren Circus, UK
Duncan McLaren and Juanita Theron got married in the McLaren Circus Big Top at Police Park, Cambridge in East London on Saturday 18 December. I have received photos at last.Anyway note Duncan's clumsy clown shoes he wore for the ceremony conducted by Pastor Zeelie
Following the season's trendsetting toy shows - New York, start-ups and the Toy Awards
Relaxnews, Wednesday, 26 January 2011
The final event, the American International Toy Fair in New York from February 13-16, also honors innovative toys in the Toy Of The Year (TOTY) awards. Consumers and industry professionals vote on the best new toys in 11 distinct categories; the winners will be revealed at a ceremony on February 12 before one toy is chosen to be the overall Toy Of The Year. Now in its 108th year the event attracted over 1,000 exhibitors and 25,000 attendees in 2010. Though this event is open exclusively to trade professionals, members of the public can follow it online via Facebook (, YouTube ( and Twitter (@ToyFairNY).
read more at:

Claire Werkiser Crowned as 2011 Pennsylvania Fair Queen
Pennsylvania Department of AgricultureJanuary 25, 2011
Hails from Unionville Community Fair, Chester County
HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Claire Werkiser, of West Chester, Chester County, was crowned the 2011 Pennsylvania Fair Queen this week after a three-day competition held in Hershey during the annual joint convention of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs and Pennsylvania State Showmen's Association.
"Pennsylvania's agriculture industry greatly benefits from the state fair queen program which grooms ambassadors for our 114 county and community fairs," said acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Pechart. "For 25 years, more than 5,000 young women have served as the faces for our state's number one industry, many of whom have remained active advocates for agriculture."
Werkiser, the daughter of Dave and Maria Werkiser, is an 18-year-old senior at Unionville High School where she is involved in National Honor Society, student council, school musicals, and is editor of the school newspaper, among other activities. She has organized numerous fundraisers and volunteers with the Brandywine Valley Association. She raises goats, chickens and horses and enjoys baking.
Werkiser, who will receive a $2,000 scholarship from the state fair association, was crowned by outgoing Pennsylvania Fair Queen Casey Hall, of Bradford County. Read more:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Every detail counts when setting up Cirque

Workers, including employees of Cirque du Soleil and local union workers, put together the working parts of the this weeks presentation of Cirque du Soleil at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.
January 25, 2011 Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

By Mike Danahey Elgin Courier News
Aurora, IL
Jan 26, 2011- Aurora, IL
Alain Gauthier and Erin Sweeney can tell you from firsthand experience: It takes a lot to bring a modern version of the circus to town. And it might even help to have sports backgrounds to do so.
Gauthier, a former hockey player and coach, is an arena production manager for Cirque du Soleil, one of the world’s most critically and commercially successful entertainment enterprises. He has that role with the tour of the Montreal-based company’s “Dralion,” which plays at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates today through Sunday.
Sweeney, who earned a master’s degree in sports management from Central Michigan University, is event manager at the venue just east of Elgin, which is owned by the village of Hoffman Estates. The Sears Centre contracts out running the venue to Sweeney’s employer, Global Spectrum. Sweeney had served an internship at the Chaifetz Arena (on the campus of Saint Louis University), which also is run by Global Spectrum. That led to a job there, then a move to the Sears Centre last summer.
Coincidentally, the Cirque show comes to Hoffman Estates from St. Louis in a way that Gauthier said is typical of how the company sets up its stops. Usually, there are shows Wednesday through Sunday in a town. Crews take down the elaborate set Sunday evening, and equipment is moved by 18 semitrailers to the next arena or hall, with another truck carrying catering equipment as part of the entourage, too. Meanwhile, performers and other staff head for the airport for a late-evening flight.
The last trucks packed have to be the first ones unloaded at the next performance space. That’s because they contain the rigging and set, which in the case of “Dralion” is quite elaborate.
“The weight of the show is 95,000 pounds,” Gauthier said. read more:
For one Alabama native, the circus is all about logistics

David Bailey, assistant general manager of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, poses with zebras at the BJCC arena on Tuesday morning. Bailey, a Decatur native, is in charge of logistics for the circus, and one part of the job is making sure zebras and tigers are taken care of while traveling from show to show.(The Birmingham News / Michelle Campbell)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
David Bailey is in charge of moving what he calls a "traveling city" from town to town. The Decatur native became chief of logistics for "The Greatest Show on Earth" in October 2010, when he took a job as assistant general manager for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
"I'm actually the one who travels over the land," he said. "I travel from city to city and am normally the first one to leave on Sunday night. I pull into the new arena and actually travel with the zebras and the tigers. So when we get to the arena, basically I'm doing the setup."
On a dreary Tuesday morning, Bailey, 30, led a line of elephants into the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center, where the circus will perform through Saturday.
The elephants came marching one by one, trunk-in-tail, in a fashion similar to schoolchildren walking hand-in-hand so they don't stray on the way to lunch.
But those elephants provided only a glimpse of the intricate network of animals and acrobats that Bailey helps organize as head of logistics for the show.


Yesterday I just happened across these pics on a website
featuring old LIFE Magazine pics.
I thought it would be interesting to see how man of these folks
can be identified by our readers.
Some are from Kelly-Miller, Stevens Bros and other Hugo Based shows
in 1947 & 48.


Hollywood Publicist Shirley Carroll O'Connor Dies at 93
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Longtime Hollywood publicist, Shirley Carroll O'Connor, whose colorful career included 25 years as the first female press agent under the Big Top of the Clyde Beatty, Cole Bros. and Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circuses, has died at the age of 93, in Laguna Hills, California.
Shirley was the president of The Carrolls Agency, one of Hollywood's top and oldest entertainment-based public relations and advertising before it was closed in 1980.
She began her career in show business when she married into the circus in 1945. Her husband, Norman Carroll O'Connor, was a ringmaster and sideshow talker, and was starting another career in public relations. Shirley joined him in this endeavor and recounted stories in her memoir, "Life is a Circus," of sharing a car with an uncaged leopard on her honeymoon, losing eight elephants on Hollywood Blvd., and having as friends such circus and sideshow performers as "The Sheep-Headed Men," "Flipper Boy," "Two-Faced Man," and "Lovanda," a full-sized head on a platter.
After resigning from the circus in the 1969 season, she began handling theatre and rock accounts, earning her the title of "oldest counter-culture publicist."
Shirley and Norman established the Carrolls Agency in 1953 and handled publicity and advertising for H. Warner Buck's Sportsman Show at the Pan Pacific Auditorium, The Great Western Livestock and Dairy Show, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus, Jungleland in Thousand Oaks and the famous Pacific Ocean Park. After Norman's death in 1967, she continued the business and moved into publicity and advertising for Broadway shows in Los Angeles.
Read more:

Teens Shine at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Charlotte, NC - Parents, here’s a chance to showcase your child’s talent.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is inviting all tweens and teens to its first annual dance and sing off on Friday January 28th at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Tickets are $10 for youth ages 10 to 18 with promo code “Teen” at the Arena box office or Ticketmaster.
During the first two hours spectators will experience two hours of live, uncut, death defying stunts. Directly following the circus audience members will get the chance to vote on Charlotte’s top three teen finalists chosen to perform live in the dance and sing off.
Plus, don’t miss an exclusive guest appearance by national recording artist B.Reith.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stunt dogs lap up attention the fair's racing pigs once got

Chris Perondi performs with "Ferrari" in the "Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show" at the South
Florida Fair.
By Carlos Frias Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
Pigs are so passé.
Dogs are the fair animals du jour.
Certainly, there was a broken heart or two when word came that the pig races, a staple at the South Florida Fair, which runs through Sunday, were being replaced by the Extreme Canine Stunt Dog Show.
But don't count Adam Morrison among them.
"The pigs were boring. It was the same thing every year," said Morrison, of Jupiter, who had a front-row seat Monday afternoon with his wife and two daughters for one of several new shows at the fair.
The fair folks say they wanted to keep things fresh, which is why they ditched the racing pigs and added a stunt motorcycle show and brought back the Bella Luna Cirque acrobatics show.

Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post Action Jackson, a Jack Russell terrier, does a 'paws stand’ on ringmaster Chris Perondi’s palm at the South Florida Fair Monday Jan. 24, 2010.
And so far, fair attendance is up from last year, according to the fair's president, Rick Vymalatil. But officials say the pig races may be back next year.
"There's a rumor going around that the dogs ate the pigs," joked Chris Perondi, the dog show ringmaster, who runs shows throughout the day. "But I cannot confirm that."
Morrison's wife, Holly, for one, misses seeing the pigs race. She loved that the crowd got to choose a favorite and cheer it on.
But to Morrison, it wasn't much to get excited about: The porkers chase a trail of feed around the course and pig out at the end of the race where, inevitably, one of them did their business for the whole crowd to, uh, enjoy.
"An added bonus," he said, shaking his head.
"It sounds horrible, but it was fun," his wife said, poking his side.
So Morrison was pumped when the dance music started and high-flying pups came racing into the center ring, leaping 4 feet into the air, over obstacles, snatching flying disks out of air.

Flashy Ferarri , a cattle dog and border collie mix leaps into the air to catch a frisbee for Chris Perondi, of Stockton, California during the Extreme Canine Stunt Dog Show at the South Florida Fair.
The Morrisons' daughters, Katelynn, 9, and Ashley, 8, oohed and aahed with the rest of the crowd when the little Jack Russell terrier balanced on Perondi's palm in midair with just his front paws.
Perondi is all showman, coaxing the likes of one dog, Ferrari, to leap off his back and over three kids from the audience as the dog caught a disk in midair.
"High Flying Harley" clears a high jump as he performs with Chris Perondi in the "Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show" at the South Florida Fair.
That's the kind of thing that got this show on Oprah, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and as halftime entertainment at the Rose Bowl.
Now when would you ever get to see a pig fly like that?
"I have to admit, it was fun," Holly said, "but I still miss the pig races. I guess I like them both."


UniverSoul Circus

January 28 thru January 30th Raymond James Stadium

An African-American touring circus with multi-ethnic performers from around the world, high energy, high tech special effects and rhythms, and music of African-American, Caribbean, African and South American cultures. Acts include clowns, trapeze, motorcycle daredevils, break dancing, acrobats, bicycle daredevils, illusionists, dogs, lions, tigers, elephants, stilt walkers, Caribbean Limbo dancers and much more. This event takes place in the stadium's parking lot.
Price: $13.50-$26.50.

Hank the Chimp, zoo's oldest resident, dies

Chattanooga Times Free Press
Monday, Jan. 24, 2011
The oldest resident at the Chattanooga Zoo, 42-year-old Hank the Chimpanzee, has died.
Hank, who came to the zoo in 1976, died overnight, zoo officials said. A necropsy is planned and those findings will be released to the public, they said.
Hank was born in Africa in 1968 and, after being captured at a young age, he was bought by a circus. But once he reached adulthood, Hank weighed more than 140 pounds and, like many adults chimps, could be aggressive.
In 1976, Hank was donated to the Warner Park Zoo.
At circus festival in Monaco, Russians win 3 awards

Karina Ivashko Jan 24, 2011
An international circus festival is now taking place in Monaco, patronized by the royal spouses. The three main prizes are a golden, silver and bronze statuette of a clown.
The festival will be over on Tuesday, but the winners have already been named. Out of 10 awards, 3 were won by Russians.
This is the 35th time that this festival is being held. This time, Russia sent quite a big team to this feast of circus art. Though Russians showed an impressive program featuring eight performances, it still was rather hard to compete with other participants – in total, there were over 200 circus performers from 18 countries at this festival.
“We have invited so many Russian performers because they always show a high class,” says the festival’s vice president Urs Pilz. “Another country which is also widely represented is China, which also has a strong circus school.”
Russia was represented not only by two Moscow circuses, known as the Old and the New circuses, but also by artists from other regions – like a children’s company from the city of Izhevsk. For the young artists, taking part in this festival, which is considered to be the world’s most prestigious, is already a big victory. As for the Moscow’s Old Circus, which, by the way, turns 130 this year, it has been a part of this festival a number of times already.
In an interview for the Voice of Russia, one of Moscow’s Old Circus’s managers Alexander Ogurtsov said:
“Perhaps, one of our most impressive shows is a group of acrobats headed by Alikhan Alikhanov, with most complicated tricks. Another star is juggler Pavel Ryzhov with a very beautiful program for which he got the bronze at the Paris festival “The Circus of Tomorrow”. I’d also like to mention Roman Khapyorskiy, our very artistic tightrope walker.”
At the Monaco festival, Roman Khapyorskiy took out the bronze clown. He impressed spectators with how masterfully he uses his body. The group of trapeze artists, lead by Alisher Aliev, got the silver for their program “White Birds”. What ultimately swayed judges’ decision was that the program included a most complicated trick that has largely been forgotten in today’s circus for its complexity – a somersault where the performer rotates around his axis. Another bronze was won by acrobats headed by Vipkhiy Khubaev from Moscow’s New Circus. The gold went to Italian elephant trainer Flavio Togni and American clown Bello Nock.
The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, at a gala concert overseen by Russian stage director Oxana Druzninina.
“This is more recognition of Russian talents,” says Alexander Ogurtsov.
“Oxana Druzhinina was invited to Monte Carlo to stage the opening and the closing ceremony of this festival. Her idea for the closing is really grandiose – all 200 participants of the festival enter the arena, simultaneously performing their programs! The artistic director of the festival Alan Frere told me that something like this has never been done before in the whole history of circus art.”