2014 Convention



Saturday, July 16, 2011




What's important to circus fans is an enjoyable performance, and Cole Bros. delivers the goods. Owner John Pugh and VP-Operations Elvin Bale weigh in on principal elements of the performance in Part 2 of Lane Talburt's mini-documentary.

More Thrills with Midway Discounts at the 2011 Iowa State Fair
by Iowa State Fair


DES MOINES, IA (07/14/2011)-- "Nothing Compares" to the heart-stopping thrill rides and entertainment on the Midway at the 2011 Iowa State Fair. With a variety of amusement savings packages, Fairgoers can enjoy even more rides. The Fair is set August 11-21.
Fairgoers can save big at the Midway by planning ahead for this year's Fair. Purchase a set of five Midway tickets for $13; each ticket is good for one ride. For an even bigger day of Midway excitement, purchase a Mega Pass wristband for just $25. It includes unlimited mechanical rides any one Fair day from open to close, including weekends. These Midway special savings must be purchased by August 10 and are available while supplies last at or the Iowa State Fair Ticket Office, as well as statewide Walgreens and Des Moines area Hy-Vee stores.
The Iowa State Fair welcomes back Belle City Amusements for 11 days of twists, turns and thrills that are guaranteed to delight Fairgoers of all ages. Experience a view of the entire midway with 6-8 of your closest friends while 100 feet above the ground at the top of the Giant Wheel. "Nothing Compares" to the kid-friendly rides at the Fair. Young Fairgoers can experience age-appropriate thrills on two mini coasters, take a spinning carousel ride, soar through the air on the Yo-Yo Swings and more.
For more heart-pounding entertainment, try the thrill rides in their new location, west of the Varied Industries Building. New this year, the Area 51-Scare Zone will be on site to test Fairgoers level of thrill. The haunted attraction will send Fairgoers into a neon-green trailer for a variety of amusement and freights while inside. The Crazy Mouse rollercoaster returns sending riders speeding down a zig-zagging track while simultaneously spinning each car around in a complete circle. Fairgoers' thrills will reach new heights with the other returning rides Sky Scraper, Ejection Seat, Turbo Trampoline and Climbing Experience. Ride costs may vary.
"Nothing Compares" to the Iowa State Fair set August 11-21, 2011.

For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or visit
Fair time in Stratham44th annual event features new rides, celebrates town history

By Liz
July 15, 2011 2:00
AMSTRATHAM — Four days of music, food, games and rides are coming back to Stratham for the 44th annual Stratham Fair next week.
The fun starts on Thursday, July 21, and will continue until Sunday, July 24.
In the past, Stratham Fair has brought in as many as 30,000 visitors to Stratham Hill Park throughout the four days, said Vicky Avery, one of the organizers of the event. This is the time when people from all over New Hampshire, Southern Maine, and North Massachusetts come to Stratham for the first fair of the season.
People of all ages can also enjoy carnival and amusement rides, as Fiesta Shows of Seabrook will be coming back for its second year at Stratham Fair. In addition to the Ferris wheel, carousel, and children's rides, there are two new rides, called Vertigo and Thunderbolt, said Avery.
This year, Stratham will also accentuate its history and culture with a new "To Celebrate Stratham" tent. The tent will feature a continuous video highlighting the history of the town, the fair, and Stratham Hill Park.READ MORE:

State, local officials keep eye on carnival safety

Every amusement ride and amusement attraction open to the public and operating in Illinois must be inspected before its first operation and annually thereafter. In addition to rides such as Ferris wheels, this includes haunted houses, mechanical bulls, and inflatable attractions, or bounce houses and moonwalks. (Lauren M. Anderson – SARAH SUTSCHEK -

Friday, July 15, 2011

Do not rock your seat on the Ferris wheel, or Skinners’ Amusements staff reserve the right to kick you off.
No standing on the fences. No running around. No intoxicated riders.
“We have the policy on the back of our tickets,” said Pat Skinner, co-owner of the Marengo-based company. “We reserve the right to refuse ridership.”
Skinners’ Amusements celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, a witness to the many changes in rules and regulations for the carnival industry. This includes the Carnival and Amusement Rides Safety Act adopted in 1985.
Carnivals can be big business for many local organizations that rely on them for fundraising, but there are annual state permitting requirements to ensure public safety standards are being met before a single dollar changes hands.
“A lot of people don’t know that the Illinois Department of Labor is responsible for regulating rides,” spokeswoman Anjali Julka said.
Skinners’ Amusements does the carnivals for several local events, including Harvard Milk Days and the McHenry County Fair. Pat Skinner said that in the past four or five years, she could recall only a pinched finger or two involving members of the public.READ MORE:

Circus Smirkus Brings Big Top Tour to Williamstown

Putting up the big top for Circus Smirkus at Mount Greylock Regional High School.

By Tammy Danielsi

Berkshires Staff

Friday, July 15, 2011

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The big top raised at Mount Greylock Regional High School on Friday was the sure sign that Circus Smirkus has returned to the Berkshires.
Some 27 youth from across the nation (and one from overseas) will perform daring feats, juggle and clown around this weekend to benefit North Adams Regional Hospital's Reach for Community Health programs for a second year.
"You'll see everthing here you'll see in a professional show — minus the big animals," said big top tour artistic director Troy Wunderle. "We don't have the large animals and we don't really have a tent large enough to shoot human cannonballs, but you'll see jugglers, tightrope walkers, aerialists of all different kinds, clowns, stiltwalkers ... ."

Professionals raise the circus tent for this weekend. The youth performers were to arrive in the area at 5 and be treated to dinner next door at Sweetwood, where they would also give a brief performance for the residents.Polly MacPherson, interim director for North Adams Regional Hospital's Reach program, said the youth circus fits well with the goals of community gardens and smoking-cessation programs that will benefit from the four performances.
"For the community gardens, one of the focuses is to get fit and, of course, these kids are tremendously fit and they're great role models for kids to look at what happens if you exercise and eat right," she said. "And they're smoke free. These are kids who have decided not to smoke, haven't tried and aren't going to experiment with it ... again a good role model." READ MORE AT:

One Man's Opinion

Circus Vargas Thrills - Without the Animals

Families considering a visit to Circus Vargas this weekend will find value for money - without the guilt of animal acts.

By James Morehead,

July 15, 2011

If you experience a sense of déjà vu while driving past the circus tent by Hacienda Drive, it's because you've likely seen the movie "Water for Elephants". Circus Vargas' elegant blue gold-accented tent, which recently appeared in a long-vacant lot near Hacienda Crossings, was featured in the film "Water for Elephants".
Unlike "Water for Elephants" fictitious circus - which shocked audiences with cruel treatment of circus animals - Circus Vargas decided in 2010 to completely eliminate animal acts. For our family that move was important. We've enjoyed Cirque du Soleil for many years - applauding the reinvention of a non-animal, artistic (yet still thrilling) circus. The downside of Cirque du Soleil is its success - attending a Cirque show in decent seats can cost a family of four several hundred dollars, and the balance of artistry/dance to thrills can make Cirque shows less appealing to younger children.READ MORE AT:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ringling Circus 1983 - Soap Gag - Red unit clowns doing the Soap Gag! Featuring Uncle Soapie, Bob Hunt, Greg Mooney, Peggy King, Ravioli McGuire, Dan Looker, Kip Reynolds as The Pink Panther, Jim Arneberg, Jim Vogelgesang, Chris Silks.



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An inside look at life in the circus

by Shannon Barry



"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages..."
These drawn out dramatic words have become synonymous as the queue for the start of a circus show.
Just hours before opening night at Circus Vargas in Dublin last Friday, some of the 25 performers take a seat to share their stories, offering an insider's view of life under the big top and how they came to be in the center ring.
Running away with the circus at 18
Jon Weiss was 18 years old and living in Long Island, N.Y. in 1981 when he signed on as one of more than 5,000 applicants for a shot to join Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
"I knew nothing about professional circus clowns," Weiss recalls. "I went to the circus only a couple times as a child but I remember that experience."
It was the classic comics who set Weiss on his more at:

Check out some hula hoops Saturday

Photo by Willy Cook


The Sun Valley Ice Show starts hitting its summer stride Saturday, July 16 with the third of 10 summer shows starting at dusk. Headliner Saturday is Evan Lysacek, 26, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist and 2007-08 U.S. national champ. Audiences will also marvel at the skills of Irina Grigorian, whose expertise includes juggling and whirling hula hoops. Grigorian is shown here during a recent Saturday practice session. She toured many years with the Ice Capades and has created an act that is truly circus art on ice. “Most people don’t expect hula hoops when they come to an ice show. But Irina is beautiful, slender and talented, and she brings something that we’re looking for in our novelty acts—something that’s different,” said ice show producer and Sun Valley Director of Recreation Lana Breazeale.

CasiNotes: Resorts erects a big top, home to 3 circuses

By Chuck Darrow from:

Fri, Jul. 15, 2011

THAT'S NOT a three-ring circus underneath the tent across North Carolina Avenue from Resorts Casino Hotel. It's three - count 'em - three circuses.Tonight, the first legal casino east of Nevada is scheduled to introduce the unprecedented concept of offering a trio of 75-minute circus programs. All performances will be staged in a 60-foot-high, 120-foot-wide, 1,800-seat temporary facility erected on what has, for years, been a self-park surface lot.
The Great American Circus is a traditional affair, aimed at the family trade and featuring a cast of daredevils, aerialists and, of course, clowns.
Cirque Polynesian is a South Seas-themed presentation that includes fire eaters, contortionists and motorcycle dare-devils. It, too, is a family-friendly presentation.
Not so Cirque Risque, a/k/a "The Nude Circus." This adults-only show won't really show everything there is to show - this is, after all, still Atlantic City. But the cast members will be wearing as little as they possibly can (G-strings, pasties, whatever decency and alcoholic beverage-service laws allow).
According to Resorts CEO Dennis Gomes, the circuses (circi? circum?) will likely run well into the fall, and perhaps beyond that (the venue boasts complete heating and air-conditioning systems). But, said Gomes, the space, which has 400 more seats than the property's Superstar Theater, may host headliners as well.
"Great American Circus" showtimes are 4:30 p.m. Friday and 1 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $35-$18 (adults) and $16-$9 (children under 12).
"Cirque Polynesian" showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $45-$30 (adults) and $16-12 (kids).
"Cirque Risque" showtime is 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $69-$39 (must be 18).
For tickets to all shows, call 800-736-1410, or go to
Hip Hop Under the Big Top: UniverSoul Circus at Black Expo

The UniverSoul Circus melds traditional circus acts with the flair of hip hop and African American culture. This unique circus consists entirely of black performers and harkens back to the old school days of vaudeville with a splash of hip hop musical. The UniverSoul Circus rolls into Lafayette Square Mall July 15 to 17 with multiple shows each day as part of the 2011 Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration. This unique circus experience showcases a wide spectrum of talent and skills from black performers. Tickets to this Indianapolis event range from $12 to $27. Indianapolis kids under one are admitted for free.
In 1994 Cedric Walker was hit with a big idea: to create a show that presented black talent to a diverse demographic of spectators. Walker hoped that his African American circus would impact national and perhaps global culture by offering a live experience through a different lens. With singing, dancing, traditional circus acts and animal acts, Walker wouldhis UniverSoul Circus on the road and around the world. But first, he had some research to more:

Thursday, July 14, 2011



Uploaded by LaneInConn on Apr 23, 2011

National officers of Circus Fans Association of America and New York-area circus aficionados were on hand for the special Connecticut debut of the motion picture "Water for Elephants" on April 22, 2011.






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By Bill Prickett

---PART 1 ---

CAVALCADE of CARTOON CIRCUS STARS was a second unit fielded by Gopher (John) Davenport. I visited this show in Indian River,Michigan, 7-16-1996, and Albertville, Minnesota, 8-21-1996. I believe the show only lasted about four months. It was staffed by personnel
from King Royal Circus and some additional help from other family members of the cast. Walt and Millie Stimax were in charge
and Ben Davenport, ran the office and presented the two elephants. The blue and white top is a MESH material (not waterproof) and the
side walls were standard canvas. The MESH top was supported in the center by standard aluminum poles and 2x4's supported the outer
edges. The physical equipment came from King Royal Circus. The poster was designed by Pat Davidson,1995. All photos Bill Prickett


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Circus animals walk to Sports Arena

July 13, 2011

The 141st edition of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus is in San Diego for its annual performance at the Sports Arena. The large animals arrived by train early Wednesday morning, July 13, and were walked to the Sports Arena, much to the delight of anyone who happened to catch a glimpse of the elephants and horses as they made their way through Old Town.

The Asian elephants started to disembark from the train cars for their walk to the Sports Arena.

Circus performer injured in fall

13 Jul 2011

PERU, Ind. (WISH) - A circus performer suffered minor injuries during a dress rehearsal Tuesday evening, the Kokomo Tribune reports.
"It was a trick that went bad," said Bruce Embrey, president of the board of directors for the Circus City Festival, told the Tribune.
Two performers from the Peru Amateur Circus were rehearsing a double trapeze act when a female performer fell about ten feet.
Embrey told the paper that the injured performer was moving every body part and did not appear to have any broken bones.
She was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital with non-life threatening injury.
The circus will hold its first performance on Monday.
Belleville business wraps up State Fair Meadowlands' 25th year

Al Dorso Sr., center, the driving force behind State Fair Meadowlands, shows off his family and family business on Sunday evening, the last night of this year’s 25th anniversary fair. Also pictured, from left, are son Al Jr., wife Ellen, Al Sr., daughter Danielle and son Michael.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


A stage full of hypnotized people who think they are naked, potbellied racing pigs, 5-foot-tall teddy bears, a clown in a dunk tank, and screaming teenagers dangling upside down from 50 feet off the ground… just another day at work for Al Dorso.The 55-year-old president and CEO of State Fair Co., based in Belleville, is the mastermind behind State Fair Meadowlands in East Rutherford — described as the largest outdoor event in New Jersey. The fair wrapped up its 25th season this past Sunday.
Dorso has been at the reins since 2003, turning the then-ailing fair into the miniature city it is known as today.
"For a small business to get that… we were thrilled," Dorso said of his bid to take over the fair. "I didn’t think I had a chance, to be honest."
Dorso’s family has been in the amusement industry since 1920 — a tradition which the Wayne native and Pompton Plains resident is passing along to his wife and three children, who are all active in State Fair’s enterprises, which, through the years, has included a lot more than the annual more:

Police nab runaway elephants at bus stop
By Eric Kelsey, editing by Paul Casciato

Reuters – Tue, Jul 12, 2011

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two runaway circus elephants in Germany surprised passersby and police by showing up at a bus stop during a brief bid for freedom, officials in Hanover said on Tuesday.
Dunia, a 40-year-old Indian elephant, and her counterpart Daela, a 25-year-old African elephant, were apprehended by police near the western city of Hanover over the weekend nonchalantly munching on tree leaves and looking for all the world as if they were waiting for the bus.
The pair had escaped from their enclosure at a nearby traveling circus and walked some 50 meters (165 feet) to the stop, police said.
"It was simply an unlucky situation for the circus," Hanover police spokesman Heiko Steiner said. "The two elephants were quite cooperative and peaceful. Everyone was amused."
If the two were trying to make an escape, they were not going far, Steiner said. The police station is only a stone's throw from the bus stop, which is out of use during the summer school holiday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Circus wagon mishap stops traffice-mail print

By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett of the Journal Sentinel July 12, 2011
It was a real circus in Westport Tuesday when circus wagons on the loose caused a ruckus.
According to The Cap Times, Dane County deputies had to stop traffic near the north shore of Lake Mendota when a semitrailer loaded with antique circus wagons from the Circus World Museum in Baraboo came apart.

Resorts Casino Hotel announces Partnership with The Circus Beach Partners, as they bring three exciting circuses to Atlantic City starting July 14

Atlantic City, NJ (PRWEB)

July 12, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages – welcome to the circus. Daredevils, contortionist, clowns and more will converge on Resorts Casino Hotel this summer for a series of shows that will entertain people of all ages. Resorts Casino Hotel announced today it will collaborate with The Circus Beach Partners to present three world-class circuses in a new entertainment pavilion beginning July 14.
“While the circus has come to town before, this partnership is a first for Atlantic City and continues our commitment to bring in new and exciting entertainment to Resorts and the City,” said Dennis C. Gomes, owner, president and C.E.O. of Resorts Casino Hotel. “With the combination of the Great American Circus, Cirque Polynesian and the Naked Circus, we really do have something for everyone in a new venue that will give us more flexibility with headliner shows and capacity.”
The addition of the three circus’ to Atlantic City’s entertainment schedule continue to follow the directives set forth by both the Mayor’s Task Force and the Governor’s objectives to bring more family-friendly entertainment to city and unique entertainment that will draw in new visitors. The three circus’ will be: Atlantic City’s Great American Circus, Cirque Polynesian and Cirque Risque - The Naked Circus. All three will be shown on a daily basis with the exception of nightly shows where Resorts will use the pavilion for other headliner entertainment. Read more:



Guppo the Clown: Still Going Strong With Wenatchee Youth Circus;

First Show Tonight at Edmonds Civic Center Playfield

Guppo, otherwise known as Paul Pugh, formed his circus almost 60 years ago. The traveling group of youngsters is performing three shows in Edmonds.

Paul Pugh, who started the Wenatchee Youth Circus in 1952, transforms into Guppo the clown for the show.Credit Brian Soergel

By Brian Soergel July 12, 2011

Edmunds, WA--There’s a word that describes those who are afraid of clowns: Coulrophobia.
Hopefully there won’t find many coulrophobiacs today and tomorrow at the Edmonds Civic Center Playfield, where Guppo the clown is likely to be the kindest one you’ll ever meet.
Guppo is Paul Pugh, who founded the Wenatchee Youth Circus in 1952, a traveling troupe of kids ages 5 to 19 who return to Edmonds each year as part of their summer tour of Washington.
On Tuesday morning, Pugh directed kids and circus workers from his wheelchair. He’s a bit hobbled these days, which is understandable after almost 60 years in the circus. But Pugh, whose handlers and makeup artists transform into Guppo before each show, is still able to get out of his chair and spread the circus’ joy with a face that was born to be a clown.

Pugh started his unique circus in Wenatchee as an afterschool tumbling team. “It developed and grew like topsy,” said Pugh, who was a junior high school principal. “I get help now from several young assistants who grew up in the circus. ‘Circus’ means ‘circle,’ which is never-ending.”
Pugh’s circus doesn’t have a flashy light show. No near-naked girls. “We are a family friendly, old-fashioned circus,” he said. “We don’t tell a story.”

The latter comment was an indirect jab at Cirque du Soleil, which Pugh admires but feels initially strayed too far from the circus concept. “They confused a lot of circus people,” he said. “But I think they’re getting it together now with what they’re doing and audiences like it. Still, it’s not really a family friendly show. Their prices are too high.”
The Wenatchee Youth Circus travels with a flatbed trailer that hauls five small circus wagons. One wagon converts into a raised covered bandstand, and the others haul more at:

Marshal Wild Windy Bill McKay

QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (AP) Daniel Claps, a singing cowboy in the 1940s who spent a half century “deputizing” young visitors to an upstate New York amusement park, has died.
Relatives say Claps was 90 when he died Saturday at Cobleskill Hospital in Schoharie County.
He portrayed Marshal Wild Windy Bill McKay at the Great Escape amusement park near Lake George. Dressed in a white cowboy hat and Western outfit, he entertained thousands of youngsters at the park's Ghost Town attraction each summer as he led them in capturing bank robbers and marching the bad guys off to jail.
Claps began working at the park in 1957, three years after it opened as Storytown USA. He worked until 2007.
The Westchester County native started out singing with the Roy Rogers band while serving in the Army during World War II.

Fair Food Inspections May Not Be Happening

Circus brings joy to first time circus goers

Simone Dykes performs on the trapeze during the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus in Sturgis on Monday, July 4, 2011. (Amanda Friar/MCTT staff)

Amanda Friar MCTT staff Rapid City Journal Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Sturgis, SD--Clowns, tightropes and lions all made their way to the little town of Sturgis for the Fourth of July, and for many people, it was the first time they had ever been to a circus.

“It’s very exciting,” Teresa Forbes said. Forbes was visiting the circus on Monday with five-year-old Gus and seven-year-old Lilly. “It’s exactly what we expected it to be.” Lilly and Gus said they were looking forward to coming to the circus and their favorite acts were the lions and tigers and being able to ride the ponies before the start of the circus.

Paulina Dykes performs on the high rope during the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus in Sturgis on Monday, July 4, 2011. (Amanda Friar/MCTT staff)
The Hein family happened to be driving through from Canada on their way to Rapid City and saw the big top tent in the parking lot of Lynn’s Dakota Mart and decided to stop. This was their first Fourth of July and they were looking forward to celebrating it and had hoped to find some children’s activities.
“We wanted to take in the Fourth of July,” Jeff Hein said. “For us it’s a unique experience.”
This is the second time the circus has come to Sturgis, though it has been close to five or six years since it has been in town. The Culpepper and Merriweather Great Combined Circus came through and performed two shows for the town.

Melvino the Clown finishes his second act during the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus in Sturgis on Monday, July 4, 2011. (Amanda Friar/MCTT staff)
Culpepper and Merriweather are based out of Hugo, Okla. and spend 32 weeks traveling in their normal season. They visit 12 to 18 states and South Dakota was their 13th state they had visited already. On average, the circus travels almost 15,000 miles during their season.
“You’re basically with it 24/7,” stilt walker and public relations representative David “Stilts” Volponio said. “Each person has multiple responsibilities. You help wherever you can.”
The Culpepper and Merriweather circus has approximately 37 people on staff that travels with them during the season.
“You get shorthanded sometimes but it’s a team and without the teamwork and dedication it wouldn’t happen,” Volponio said.
Volponio has been with Culpepper and Merriweather for 23 years and said that many days it gets very difficult and it’s not all carnival games and clowns.

David "Stilts" Volponio carries an American flag around the circus ring in honor of the Fourth of July at the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus in Sturgis on Monday, July 4, 2011. (Amanda Friar/MCTT staff)
“It’s not always easy. I’ve seen days where I didn’t think the show would go another day,” he said. “But everybody pulls together and pitches in. It has to be in your heart.”
According to Volponio, it is the final result of seeing the smiles on kids’ faces that makes it worth it. He said knowing that he helped cheer someone up who may have otherwise been having a terrible day makes it worth the hard work and is the reason he keeps doing it.
“Being a part of it is really special,” he said.

Paulina Dykes leads a pony around while four-year-old Natalie Alsup rides it at the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus in Sturgis on Monday, July 4, 2011. (Amanda Friar/MCTT staff)
For Jessie Glodt and 18 month old Lily Glodt, it made their day to be able to see Melvino the Clown mess up while trying to ride a unicycle or knock over the stools.
“It’s more than I expected,” Glodt said. “It’s more than I expected for a little circus coming to Sturgis and it’s keeping an 18 month old occupied.”Read more: