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Saturday, August 13, 2011
The circus was in town -- "America's One Ring Wonder," the program's headline read, "Kelly Miller Circus, owned and operated by John Ringling North II.
Ben Eisel helps his daughter Lilli Eisel get a big bite out of her snow cone during a refreshing pause to the circus excitement.
The audience, age diverse and children all, marveled at the tigers and elephants and gasped at the aerialists and acrobats inside the big top at Brint and Centennial roads.
Few showed the enthusiasm of Katie Donatini, 25, of Sylvania, who was about 10 when she last attended a circus, and a sterile indoor event at that.
She leaned forward as tiger master Ryan Holder led five cats through their paces -- jumping over each other; lying side by side, stock still, a living striped carpet; walking and hopping forward and backward on their hind legs.
Then, on command, the tigers rolled over and over around the circus ring.
"They're still rolling! Oh, my God!" Ms. Donatini said to her aunt, Carol Connolly Pletz.
"I'm out-of-my-mind excited," she said during a break in the action. "I love the animals."
Her aunt said, "This is like the old-time circus where they came to town and set up a tent."
Gabe Anteau, 8, of Sylvania -- who after his face painting resembled Spider-Man -- is a circus watching veteran who most enjoys the acrobats.
"I kind of like the way they move around and how they fly," he said.
Afternoon and evening performances in Sylvania Township to benefit the Sylvania Sunrise Lions Club were the last stops for the Kelly Miller Circus in northwest Ohio. The circus made its annual trek to Kelleys Island on Sunday -- a five-hour venture involving two ferries and five trips to transport the circus, its cast, and 40 vehicles. The operation in reverse returned the circus to the mainland for performances Wednesday in Woodville and Thursday in Point Place. The next stops are in the Detroit area.The booming voice of Ringmaster John Moss III caught the crowd's attention. He advised them to make note of the fire exits, refrain from using cell phones, and warned of the prohibition on recording the show.
At the afternoon performance, with a drum roll, he introduced guest ringmaster John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade.
"It's an honor to be here," said Mr. Block, a longtime circus enthusiast. "Thank you for bringing the circus to Toledo and Sylvania. There's not a bad seat in the house.
"On with the show!"
And nearly two hours of circus entertainment was under way.read more:http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2011/08/13/One-ring-wonder-resounds-with-local-circus-enthusiasts.html
Skowhegan State Fair offers something for everyone
While the Skowhegan State Fair does offer all of those things, the organizers’ main emphasis is on the agricultural portion.
“The Skowhegan State Fair really concentrates on the agricultural part of the fair,” the fair’s marketing director, Denise Smith, said Thursday afternoon. “It’s a very clean fair, it’s very well-run.”
The fairgrounds were full of activity on Thursday as the 193rd fair opened for business at 7 a.m. Festivities will run through Aug. 20.
The fair is dubbed the oldest continuous running agricultural fair in North America, and Smith is hoping more than 100,000 people will pass through the gates this year.
Behind the harness racing grandstand, some African and Asian elephants along with other jungle animals drew a small yet enthusiastic crowd.
“We like to give children and families the opportunity to do something that they don’t often get to do, like see an elephant up close,” said animal trainer Justin Loomis, who is running one tiger and elephant show per day on the weekdays and two shows per day on weekends.
A Bengal and Siberian tiger also came out to play for a bit, wrestling with each other in their cages.
Loomis said elephant rides will be offered for $2 apiece.read more:http://bangordailynews.com/2011/08/11/news/mid-maine/skowhegan-state-fair-offers-something-for-everyone/?ref=latest
A mix of traditional Americana classics and new attractions drew the public to the 73rd annual fair. Residents could be on the Ferris wheel one moment, then be wowed by live grizzly bears and a fire juggler the next.
“We like to think it is one of the most significant opportunities to bring together people from all over Middlesex County to a common event that celebrates our agricultural heritage,” fair coordinator Dan Mulcahey said.
Not only is the fair a place for the community to gather for entertainment, rides, and of course those treats that simply taste sweeter at the fair, but it is also an opportunity to promote education and agriculture.
“We have focused on nurturing the traditional parts of the fair that make it unique to any other event in the county, [including] the home arts competition, crafts demonstrations, 4-H, fruits/vegetables/livestock [and] vintage farming equipment,” Mulcahey said.
There is one major difference setting the Middlesex County Fair apart from the other fairs of central Jersey.
“Few people realize we are a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization run by volunteers,” Mulcahey explained.
This drastically changed the financial dynamic, he said.
“Many of these fairs, however, are run by the county government; whereas, we are strictly a volunteer operation that derives its funding from operation of the annual fair,” he said, noting that profits are then used for the following year. “The Middlesex County FairAssociation also donates thousands of dollars each year to local charities that support our mission of promoting agriculture, education and community.”read more:http://eb.gmnews.com/news/2011-08-11/Front_Page/Crowds_enjoy_summer_fun_at_Middlesex_County_Fair.html
The vet and one-time elephant trainer Dr. Jim Laurita has created a nonprofit group to raise money so he can move Rosie from Hugo, Oklahoma to Hope, Maine.
Dr. Laurita says Rosie is well-cared for but unable to receive the special treatment she need for leg and muscle injuries.
Hope is located east of Augusta and south of Bangor near the coast of Maine.
"Rosie is an elephant that I worked with in the circus when I was 18," says Jim Laurita. "I've known her a long time."
Now 42, Rosie is retired from the circus and living at the Endangered Ark Foundation in far southern Oklahoma.
Maine's climate is not a concern, Dr. Laurita notes.
"Elephants are very adaptable and do well in any climate as long as they can get out of the heat. Overheating is the greatest concern with big animals," said Dr. Jim Laurita.
Larita's nonprofit organization, Hope Elephants, still needs local, state, and federal permits but hopes to raise funds, build a barn, and move Rosie in by the end of the summer.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Is reality TV turning us into sideshow voyeurs?
JoAnna Wogulis/Marriage & Family
Like many others, I have to confess to watching some of those lame reality shows on TV. I'm not only talking about the ones on primetime networks, but also those found on cable stations. What this so-called educational programming shows us is some of the worst behavioral dysfunctions known to humanity. It is truly a TV sideshow.
Most of you probably haven't experienced a true sideshow, unless you ran across one in a small-town circus or carnival, but I remember them. Many, many years ago, when I was quite young, my parents took me to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in New York City. We went each year and you can just imagine what that kind of extravaganza meant to a young child.
The glitz and glamour and daring-do were all there, but the thing that I could not forget was freak show, as it was known then. You don't hear that word "freak" used very often these days and when it is spoken it is meant to deride or demean someone. Those people who were on exhibit at these sideshows were truly demeaned and humiliated, but for some of them, it was one of the only ways they could earn a living. For a young child, they were both fascinating and frightening.
There was no such thing as "politically correct" in those days, so included in the show were the fat lady, the "midgets," the bearded lady, etc.read more:http://www.syvnews.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/article_55e3f900-c2e6-11e0-8c3d-001cc4c03286.html
The key word for this whole production is friendliness. From the time you enter the modern big blue top to being seated, all staff are relaxed, helpful, pleasant and - interestingly enough - mostly related to one another. This is a REAL family circus, where almost everyone belongs to the family, from the performers to the ushers, to the ticket and concession sellers. There is a relaxed and laid-back feeling that permeates the whole area, while still giving off the anticipation of the circus.
To my delight, this is an intimate, one-ring circus. I usually go bonkers trying to keep track of three rings and, best of all, this is a completely vegetarian presentation. There is not even a pampered poodle in sight. (What a relief. I have always been uncomfortable watching elephants, lions and tigers doing things they really do not want to do.)
Circus Vargas embraces the idea that the circus is really for kids. It delights little ones more than its counterparts that present circuses on different levels. This is the most kid-friendly traveling circus anywhere. It involves toddlers to teens, giving them the thrill of a lifetime when actually participating in the fun and fantasy. With a little good-natured prodding, adults are also incorporated in an amusing section that entertains without anyone losing his or her dignity.
All the performers seem to enjoy themselves and there is a joie de vie in their presentation. Hitting their mark is important, but it seems more important to have fun while getting there. They fly, they dance, they spin, they balance stuff and they spoof. Their one talented clown doesn't waste time. He gets his job done to the delight of the audience. And where else are you going to find an endearing African-American ringmaster with glasses who mans a set of drums for that extra beat. (Utterly charming.)
Circus Vargas may not be as bombastic and glittery as some of its counterparts, but it sure entertains. Best of all, you leave that big top with a good, relaxed feeling that all is right with the world. In this day and age that's worth the price of admission.
- Where: Flea Market on Berryessa Road, San Jose
- Through: Aug. 15
- Tickets: $15-$60
- Details: 877-GOTFUN1 or 877-4768-3861 or visit www.circusvargas.com.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Aug 09, 2011
In the world of sleight of hand and circuses, Tom Persell, of Massillon, is a standout.
The 74-year-old retired employee of Republic Engineered Products ICD received his 35-year recognition certificate in June from the International Brotherhood of Magicians, acknowledging his membership in the Order of Merlin Shield during the brotherhood’s national convention. Unfortunately, Tom was unable to attend, and he received his certificate by mail.
He has performed magic since 1976 at circuses and special occasions, but now limits his magic talent to special occasions. He recalls the eight shows that he built illusions for to accommodate a Kent State University Stark Campus theater series.
“I miss doing those shows, especially building the illusion props,” Tom says wistfully, but perks up when he talks about his present creation, the Wilson Bros. Miniature Circus, a huge undertaking he started in February 2002.
Rarely can he display the entire circus, which fills a table space of 16 feet by 40 feet. The next date that it will be on full display will be Nov. 18, 19 and 20 during the Cleveland IX Center’s Christmas Connection.
But Wilson Bros. is built so that Tom can display portions of it and still give the visitor an awe-inspiring, behind-the-scenes look. Most every figurine is of an original design, hand-carved, hand-painted, and hand-constructed. Tom himself stands in miniature size among his circus characters.
Visitors to Tom’s circus are amazed at how complete the circus is — the elephants at feed time, the chefs preparing meals for circus members, big-top customers seated in the bleachers — it’s all there.
Tom started out at “around 7 or 8” years of age making model airplanes and was content with that until he saw a miniature medicine show and was immediately mesmerized by the detail work. That started him on the trail that rose from model airplanes to circus layouts over the years.
Tom takes his circus on out-of-town trips with the back of his van loaded with gently and safely protected circus components packed in small boxes. It takes three days to set up the entire circus; one can imagine how many boxes it takes to haul the circus around.
In April 2010, while heading home to Massillon following a national circus builders’ convention in Texas, Tom was involved in a one-car accident that destroyed some of his circus and damaged other pieces. When he got home, he immediately took inventory of the damage and began building it back to full strength, a project now completed.read more:http://www.indeonline.com/life/x1837730102/Longtime-magician-receives-recognition-certificate
But it ended with a bang, as she and hundreds of others looked skyward for the fireworks at 9 p.m."I believe in the fair," said Shaver Shank, who does everything from administrative tasks to handing out event schedules.More than $100,000 in expenses, months of planning, and thousands of hours of preparation work by hundreds of volunteers culminated on Tuesday when the doors opened for the 17th annual Augusta County Fair."We begin planning for the next fair a week after the fair ends," Shaver Shank said. "There are so many details it boggles your mind, but the community comes together to make it happen."Although the fair has changed over the years — it now offers helicopter rides, laser tag, wine tastings and a circus show — it's as important for its celebration of agriculture and husbandry today as it ever was.read more:http://www.newsleader.com/article/20110810/NEWS01/108100324/-Fairs-hugely-important-
In the morning, the public was invited to see the big top go up. The circus was ahead of schedule and the big top went up earlier than planned, but those stopping by the circus grounds were instead treated to an inside look at the circus.
They were given a tour that included an up-close look at the jungle cats and then had the special privilege of sitting in on a training class of an upcoming act. The evening of the circus arrived with perfect weather and great attendance by people of all ages.
Families For Education (FFE) sponsored the event and FFE board member Amy Gross said the organization raised $2,978. "These proceeds will benefit the Spring Grove Public School, our teachers and students!" Gross explained.
There were 606 people at the 5 p.m. show and 481 people at the 7:30 p.m. show, for a total of 1,087 people who came to see the circus!
Gross added, "The Culpepper and Merriweather Circus commented that it is rare to see a sell-out on advanced adult ticket sales. Spring Grove did just that! This was the first sellout for Culpepper and Merriweather in over 120 cities this year."
"Families For Education would like to thank the amazing residents of Spring Grove as well as those from surrounding communities for making the event a huge success. We could not have done it without you," Gross summed up.
"We have received many great comments from the community and look forward to doing more family fun events in the near future."
Today is BP Kids' Day. Children under 13 get in to the fair for free until 7 p.m. Activities on tap include a bubble gum blowing contest, racing pigs, a freight dog pull and a backhoe derby.For more information, visit http://www.tananavalleystatefair.com/. Read more:http://newsminer.com/view/full_story/14972572/article-80th-Tanana-Valley-State-Fair-gets-under-way?
However, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said there were problems, and they need to be corrected.
The circus was cited twice for issues involving the handling of elephants during its June 27-29 visit. The alleged violations were detailed in a report by USDA medical veterinary officer and inspector Paula S. Glaude. The department performs random and routine investigations of circus conditions.
The circus was ordered to address the issues immediately, according to the report, lest there be further action.
The report said the circus, officially licensed as the Carson & Barnes Circus, failed to "handle the animals so that there is minimal risk of harm to the animal and public."
"On 6/27/11 the Cole Bros. Circus was set up on a property that was bordered on all sides by busy city streets," Glaude wrote in the report, referring to East Main, Pratt, State, and Mill streets. "The parking area was not surrounded by any fence and members of the public were able to walk through and enter the parking lot while 2 of the elephants were being bathed."read more:http://www.myrecordjournal.com/talkaboutit/article_13b95dac-c301-11e0-923e-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=story
Aurora -- Driving thousands of miles every year and putting on about 200 performances is taxing, but some performers for the Kelly Miller Circus say seeing the smiling faces on adults' and children's faces is well worth the stress.
The circus made one of its many annual United States stops in Aurora on Aug. 3 as a fundraiser for W.K. Ricksecker Masonic Lodge, and nearly 1,300 attended the two performances.Despite clouds and occasion light showers, its presence on Ballfields 1 and 2 stirred up much excitement for residents.excitement for residents.
"I thought the circus was fantastic," said Masonic leader Tony Marotta, who was in charge of its local organizing. "I heard many comments that it was far beyond what people expected."
Marotta, who reported nearly 1,300 people watched the two shows, said he hopes the Masonic Lodge can bring the circus back next year, and if so, that even more people will turn out.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
from MIKE NAUGHTON
GOUVERNEUR — A demolition derby goes something like this:
Start the engine and get it to idle high. Put the car in reverse and plow it into another car’s rear end. The accordion effect is preferable, meaning the impact is strong enough to send the struck car’s rear end in folds all the way to the back seat. Throw in some blown tires, overheated engines, burst radiators and the roar of an adoring crowd and the demolition derby is complete.
And, at Sunday’s finale to the annual Gouverneur & St. Lawrence County Fair here, successful. Hundreds of demolition derby enthusiasts jammed the fairground grandstand to see more than 60 drivers have it out nine cars at a time inside a 150-foot-by-40-foot sand-banked section of track.
Derby fans made no bones about it. This was no place for finesse and politeness. These stripped-down $400 junkers were making their final appearance as moving vehicles, so they might as well destroy them.
“Smashing cars,” said Matthew A. Moncrief, of Ogdensburg. “It’s good entertainment.”
Richard J. Finley of Gouverneur is a veteran derby contestant. On Sunday, he chose to watch.
No surprise what he likes.
“I look for more hits,” Mr. Finley said.
That philosophy was shared by the drivers as they prepared their cars in the track infield before the race.
James R. Mitchell, 34, a mechanic from Rensselaer Falls, was securing his lime green 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis sedan’s hood and trunk with wire to the bumpers when asked to explain his take on the meaning of “derbying.”
It has never changed.read more at:http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20110808/NEWS05/708089985
Handler Jason King directs his elephants before the audience on Kelleys Island during the Kelly Miller Circus’s annual visit to the community surrounded by Lake Erie.
Marcelino Perez hangs inflatable toys before the circus opens for patrons. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Since 2004, the Kelly Miller Circus has been traveling to northwest Ohio, and across Lake Erie via ferry to Kelleys Island to spend two days riding around in golf carts, swimming in the lake, and performing in a packed tent filled with their most responsive crowd of the season.
Case in point: A welcoming party of about 200 gathered Sunday night as the circus trucks and trailers drove off the boats and onto the island, as the ferries pulled into the dock and cheered as the circus unloaded.
"Everybody treats you so good here," elephant trainer Armando Loyal said. "It makes you feel like a rock star."read more at:http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2011/08/09/Untitled-BRKJKST4-0FL.html
Circus ArtistCircus artists are trained professionals who perform with resident or touring shows. Generally, a circus artist specializes in a specific talent, such as acrobat or trapeze artist, aerialist, trampolinist or dancer. Depending on the troupe, talented circus artists can pull in moderate six figure salaries.
The famed Cirque Do Soleil company, for example, offers its touring performers competitive compensation and vacation policies, performance bonuses, return transportation home once per year, lodging and transportation between cities, medical, dental, disability and life insurance coverage, gourmet buffet-style meals most days and free tickets to any Cirque Du Soleil show. Circus artists often have the added benefit of traveling the world and meeting interesting people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/08/08/investopedia57691.DTL#ixzz1UWUvzqnY
Monday, August 8, 2011
Uploaded by LaneInConn on Aug 7, 2011
This small but exuberant New England touring group typifies the growing American youth circus movement. As portrayed by Lane Talburt, Circus Smirkus offers youngsters from 10 to 18 the opportunity to reinvent themselves for the summer and, hopefully, for their future careers.
The Ocean City Exchange Club presents two shows daily.
By Stuart Sirott
August 7, 2011
The Ocean City Exchange Club is bringing the Cole Brothers Circus to Route 9 in Seaville for two shows daily (4:30 and 7:30 p.m.) Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 8 and 9.
The circus grounds are at mile marker 24 on Route 9 in the Seaville section of Upper Township (1/2 mile north of Cedar Square Mall). The Cole Brothers Circus is billed as the largest traveling circus under the big top in the world (see history of the circus).
Proceeds from the circus benefit the Oceean City Exchange Club's various charities. The club raises money for student scholarships, community projects and the national goal of preventing of child abuse.
Tickets are available at: Coastal Realty, 330 Atlantic Ave. Ocean City, 609-399-3889; Ulmer's Appliance 3130 Asbury Ave., Ocean City; and Tomorrow's World, Tuckahoe Road, Marmora.
Tickets for children under 13 are free. Adult general admission tickets are $14. Reserve and VIP tickets are available for additional cost. For questions or additional information about the circus, see their website
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Every day a circus day for Jack Ryan
Instead of running away to join the circus, he got into the act by becoming a publicist and writer. He took over publicity chores for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and inherited the enviable task of promoting Gunther Gebel-Williams, the legendary wild animal trainer on his 1969 American debut.
But Ryan's biggest claim to fame came not from an act, but from his words.
In search of a line to conclude a souvenir program, Ryan penned a catchy phrase that still resonates today at the climax of circus acts around the world: "May all your days be circus days."
Those seven simple words catapulted Ryan into circus folklore forever.
"I wanted to say something new and never found anything better," said Ryan, 72, who moved to Pensacola seven years ago from California.
Ryan's words and his name now will forever be a part of circus history. Last month he was inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame in Peru, Ind., the headquarters for several famous circuses, dubbed the "circus capital of the world."
The enshrinement puts him in rare company. Only 169 people have been inducted in the prestigious Circus HOF, including Emmett Kelly, the world's greatest clown, renowned animal trainer Gebel-Williams, and of course, P.T. Barnum and Clyde Beatty.
"I'm right up there with the real greats of the circus," Ryan said.
The pull of the circus was too hard to ignore for the young writer, who had fond memories of piling into his father's green Studebaker for a three-hour drive from McComb, Miss., to the circus in New Orleans.
Living a dream
After graduating from Millsaps College with a degree in English, Ryan spent some time working in public relations in New York on Broadway until he eventually got some circus accounts on his resume.
When he got the call from the Greatest Show on Earth, he didn't miss the chance to join the traveling circus.
From coast to coast, in the City of Angels to the Big Apple, he lived out his childhood dream of traveling with the circus and bringing smiles to the faces of children and adults.
"When I heard the sound of the calliope, I couldn't refuse," Ryan said. "The circus was the important thing I did. I loved the circus all my life."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Read more: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime_and_courts/article_ad3f2f90-c02e-11e0-a37c-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1UJf8QRwI
By Michelle Thompson,City Hall Bureau
Court appeal over Lucy the elephant has been dismissed. The Alberta Court of Appeal is upholding an earlier court decision to dismiss legal action against the city over the Valley Zoo animal, the city said Thursday. A lawsuit was launched against the city by animal rights groups like PETA and Zoocheck, but the appeal court judges ruled the suit was inappropriate. “We are very pleased, but not surprised, that the Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the City of Edmonton,” said lawyer Steven Phipps, who represented the city. “The majority of the judges are very clear that the applicants’ attempt to circumvent the appropriate regulatory authorities is not proper.” Controversy over the Asian elephant’s fate has been brewing for years. Animal rights activists have been calling for Lucy to be moved to a U.S. sanctuary, while zoo officials argued she was safer at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Activists launched their lawsuit in February 2010. It was dismissed later that year. Phipps maintains that Lucy is being well looked after. “There are many independent parties monitoring Lucy’s care. They confirm her care needs are being met,” he said. “With this ruling, it’s now time to move forward and allow the exceptional people who work at the Edmonton Valley Zoo to focus on caring for Lucy and all of the other animals in its care.” Meanwhile, PETA said Thursday in a news release that it will continue its battle “to get Lucy removed from her lonely, neglectful imprisonment ...” email@example.com
Lucy the elephant with zookeeper Brenda McComb at Edmonton's Valley Zoo on Monday, February 23, 2009.