2014 Convention



Saturday, October 29, 2011

Picks of the Week 10.27.11

Circus World headed back to the big screen

By Ed Zagorski, News Republic Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011

Leslie Zemeckis interviewed Circus World Museum Executive Director Steve Freese on Friday. Zemeckis is currently working on a documentary film about Daisy and Violet Hilton, who were conjoined twins that toured the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s.

Ed Zagorski / News Republic
A little bit of Hollywood visited Baraboo Friday.
Leslie Zemeckis, who is the wife of Robert Zemeckis, the Academy Award-winning director of "Forrest Gump," met with Circus World Museum Executive Director Steve Freese on Friday as part of a documentary project.
Zemeckis is working on a film featuring the Hilton sisters, conjoined twins who were a popular vaudeville act during the 1920s. She said the film will be a comprehensive examination not only of the sisters, but of the circus/sideshow acts and vaudeville worlds.
Freese said the Circus World Museum staff has worked with numerous movie studios and production companies in the past. Most recently, Freese traveled to California to help with the technical aspects associated with the movie "Water for Elephants."
Freese said meeting with Zemeckis gave him the opportunity to showcase the museum's collection.
"We've kind of been the place to go for circus history," he said.
That's what brought Zemeckis to Baraboo.
"I've done a great deal of research already," she said. "I know visiting the Circus World Museum I will find much more on the Hilton sisters."
Unlike Chang and Eng Bunker, the conjoined twins born in Siam, Zemeckis said despite their popularity, very few people know the Hilton sisters went through to achieve success.
"The Hilton sisters were hugely famous during their time," Zemeckis said. "I've been obsessed about them for some time and want to shed light on their story. They were very talented jazz musicians, who became singers and dancers."
However, she said the story surrounding the Hiltons is filled with drama and tragedy.
The Hilton sisters were born in 1908 in Brighton, England.
The sisters were exhibited as an attraction beginning in saloons, small circuses and street fairs and then moved on to vaudeville, carnivals and burlesque acts.
In 1932, Daisy and Violet Hilton appeared in the movie "Freaks," which posed the question of whether or not conjoined twins could find love.
"The Bunkers had no problems getting married, but the Hilton sisters traveled to several different states because no one would issue them a marriage license," Zemeckis said. "The twins fell in and out of love. Violet was engaged to be married, but the application was denied because she was a conjoined twin."
Zemeckis said eventually Violet's soon-to-be husband decided against the marriage and split. She said Daisy tried marriage, but it didn't last long.
Despite their romantic difficulties, the two continued to work the stage and became the highest paid acts in vaudeville. The Hiltons even teamed up with Bob Hope, Zemeckis said.
"They were just a huge part of American entertainment that no longer exists like the carnivals, burlesque and vaudeville acts of the past," Zemeckis said.
The twins died in 1969.
"The two of them were really adored," Zemeckis said. "They just wanted to find love and be loved."
Zemeckis said Baraboo was her third stop after visiting Milwaukee and Florida for her documentary. She is now off to Washington, D.C. to meet with an author who penned a book on the Hiltons.
Zemeckis said she hopes to have her film edited by next fall.
Freese, who was interviewed as part of Zemeckis' documentary, said during the Hilton sisters' careers with the circus the two of them would've been treated well, almost like superstars.
"The circus people had regular work and traveled all over the United States and even different parts of the world," he said.
Freese said the circus was much different than that of carnivals.
"At a circus, people came to see a show," he said. "Going to a carnival back then meant seeing the concession stands and playing the games of chance. Going to the circus was different. It was about the performers. And the Hilton sisters were a big attraction back then."

Fright Nights 2011 at the South Florida Fairgrounds TownCrierNews

Uploaded by TownCrierNews on Oct 20, 2011

Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds opened Thursday, Oct. 13 with three new haunted houses, midway rides and carnival games. Fright Nights also has a "Hellzapoppin'" side show with fire-eaters, sword-swallowers and other freaky things. For more info., visit
Court dismisses lawsuit over treatment of circus elephants

By Bill Mears, CNN

Fri October 28, 2011

Washington (CNN) -- A lawsuit claiming systematic abuse and exploitation of elephants by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was dismissed Friday by a federal appeals court.
The three-judge panel concluded two animal protection groups and a former employee with Feld Entertainment Inc., owners of the circus, did not have "standing" -- or authority -- to bring the lawsuit, since they could not establish actual legal "injury" to themselves. The judges also questioned the credibility of the one-time circus worker, the main witness in the litigation.
The key question was whether the standard, open use of metal restraining and control devices improperly created the illusion, especially among children, they did no physical or psychological damage to the animals.
"Nothing in the record supports the key link in (the plaintiffs) argument, namely that Feld's use of bullhooks and chains fosters a public impression that these practices are harmless."
Vienna, Virginia-based Feld owns the country's largest collection of Asian elephants, an endangered species. They travel and perform as part of the multi-act circus. Most are kept at a Florida sanctuary in the off-season.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Animal Protection Institute (API) joined forces, alleging Ringling Brothers harms the animals in violation of the Endangered Species Act. They were assisted by a former trainer -- called a "barn helper" in court records -- who testified the world's largest land mammals were being mistreated through "inhumane" practices.
The bullhooks, two- to three-foot rods with a pointed end, are used to guide and control the animals, both in the ring and in their living quarters. The chains are placed on the animals' legs when they are not performing and when traveling by train.
The circus argues the elephants are not harmed by such treatment, and the practices are done for their protection and the safety of the animals, spectators and circus personnel.
"We are gratified with today's decision because it is a victory over those whose radical agenda, if adopted, could lead to banning animals from circuses, zoos and wildlife parks," said Kenneth Feld, chief executive of Feld Entertainment. "We will continue to focus on providing quality care to our elephants and delivering unique family entertainment options to the public."
John Sullivan, a Washington attorney representing the circus, said the claims by the animal rights groups have been thoroughly dismissed as "manufactured litigation." He cited the testimony of Tom Rider, the circus employee who helped bring the initial suit, which a federal judge had earlier concluded was "essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who lacked credibility."
Writing for the appeals court Friday, Judge David Tatel said Rider "complained publicly about the elephants' mistreatment only after he was paid by activists to do so." Rider had received $190,000 over eight years from the organizations suing the circus, noted the court.
API claimed its public education programs were hampered by the impression the elephants were content and unharmed by the control methods, causing them to expend valuable financial resources. The challenge for the plaintiffs was to show their advocacy efforts suffered injury. Their setback Friday in this important "gateway" issue means the case cannot proceed to trial. The animal protection groups have the option of asking the Supreme Court to review their case.
"It is a disappointing decision because I thought we had shown enough for organizational injury with respect to reallocation of resources and should have had a chance to prove that Feld's actions clearly violate the Endangered Species Act," said Carter Phillips, the attorney for the animal rights groups. "The court found our proof just a little short on causation."
Feld Entertainment has a pending civil racketeering lawsuit of its own, alleging the animal rights groups are engaged in bribery, money laundering and wire fraud.
The elephant appeal comes on the heels of a separate lawsuit filed this week against SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, operators of several marine animal theme parks and oceanariums.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made a novel legal claim, alleging the constitutional rights of killer whales themselves are being violated by their captivity and performances. The group is suing on behalf of five individual sea mammals, claiming they are being held in slavery or involuntary servitude, in violation of the 13th Amendment.
The elephants case is ASPCA v. Feld Entertainment (10-7007).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Performing Poodles "Paws" to Show Philly Some Love


View more videos at:

Circus rolls into town for one day

by Staff Reports

ROME, GA--Circus Pages performances will be held today at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds. The show includes elephants, tigers and lions as well as other exotic animals.
Adult tickets are $15 and there are two free admissions for children, 14 and under, with each paid adult ticket and a merchant coupon from local merchants. Each additional child ticket is $2.
Read more: - Circus rolls into town for one day



from Casey Gibbs




MSG CEO on Updating the 'World's Most Famous Arena'

Oct 19, 2011

From Mike Naughton

Posted by Picasa

Attached is a photo of the refurbished Madison Square Garden, "The World's Most Famous Arena".

Plus a video of the inside, just wait for the little commercial to won't recognize the place, except for the ceiling.It's all about sports and concerts I guess, no mention of the circus or ice shows, et cetera.


(video above)
California Mid-State Fair selects 2012 theme

Oct 25th, 2011

BY: Contributed
The California Mid-State Fair recently selected its 2012 theme.
“The Great American Road Trip,” featuring Paso Pete and crew on an adventure through the historic Route 66, will serve as the promotional tool for the
upcoming event.
Departing in Chicago, Illinois and landing in Paso Robles, the gang will tour many of our great western states.
Fair officials have been working with Cal Poly’s Advanced Fair Management class on creating an innovate concept that can be successful in marketing, program and exhibition concepts.
“The California Mid-State Fair is a destination for not just the residents of San Luis Obispo County, but for visitors from all over the state of California,” noted Vivian Robertson, CEO. “We hope saluting one of the most notable ‘road trips’ will inspire everyone to join the fun this summer. I am excited about the next adventure that Paso Pete will undertake and grateful for the original conception the Cal
Poly students developed."
The class of 12 students will continue to develop the fair’s strategies this quarter and present a full fledge fair program, complete with marketing elements and competitions this December.
“I believe in the ‘Learn By Doing’ approach that Cal Poly teaches,” Robertson said. “Fairs are about celebrating agriculture and educating our youth, working with these young people insures our success in these two areas.”
The Agri-Fair Management Program is part of the agribusiness department and studies all aspects of the fair industry.
The 2012 California Mid-State Fair run July 18 through July 29, 2012.

NM lawmakers shake their heads at State Fair mistakes

Posted at: 10/24/2011

By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One colorful circus

In 17 years UniverSoul has rainbowed into a multi-culti global spectacle - still with that pumping hip-hop pulse.

By Lori L. Tharps For The Inquirer

Wed, Oct. 26, 2011

There are only a handful of well-known circuses in the United States: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Cirque du Soleil, Big Apple, and UniverSoul. Cedric Walker, 58, owns one of them, the one that features first-rate performers from all over the world.
Hint: It's not Cirque du Soleil.Walker is the chief executive officer and founder of UniverSoul Circus. Once considered a "black circus," UniverSoul has outgrown that categorization. Walker wants everyone to know that UniverSoul has far more to offer than just hip-hop under the big top.
"UniverSoul originated as an idea to present family entertainment relevant to the urban experience," Walker explained in an interview from his hotel room in Guayaquil, Ecuador. "We wanted to combine the various talents of black culture that wasn't just hip-hop or R&B," he said, "and we wanted to go beyond just dance or theater."
Walker got the idea for a circus after reading about black circus performers in the early 1900s. It took more than a year to put the first UniverSoul show together in 1994, and it quickly became an award-winning, groundbreaking African American circus.
Today, 17 years after the circus' debut, Walker is busy transforming UniverSoul into a global extravaganza of diverse, multicultural talent. "We're presenting acts from around the world," Walker said. But, staying true to his original mission, all of the acts and the way they are presented have an urban aesthetic and a hip-hop beat.

Iraqis Enjoy a Show With a Familiar Ring, but a Few Differences

Baghdad Journal

Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Performers and trained dogs prepared for a show last month at the Umbrella Circus in Baghdad.

Published: October 25, 2011

BAGHDAD — The circus promoters blanketed Baghdad with fliers that showed tigers balancing on pedestals, poodles standing on each other’s shoulders and a woman dancing with a massive snake. But when the circus finally opened here two months ago, there were not any tigers because the animals were stuck in Egypt. There were dogs, however, but they were not poodles. And the big snake, well, the snake had become sick and had to be evacuated from Iraq.
“Next week, the lions and tigers will arrive from Egypt,” one of the circus promoters, Ghassan Taha Mohammed, promised in September.
A month later, they still had not arrived.
For the first time in a decade, the circus — albeit an underwhelming one — was back in Baghdad.
A circus’ coming to town may be a routine event in most cities. But in battered Baghdad, even if it was not the Greatest Show on Earth, the arrival of the circus was yet another small step in this city’s efforts at building a more normal life, to move beyond the war, occupation and sectarian violence that made it hard for anyone to laugh, let alone marvel at dancers jumping rope.
The circus is called the Umbrella Circus. It has just one small ring, and there is not a commanding ringmaster. What it does have, though, are dancers jumping rope, a woman swinging from a trapeze (without a net, but with a harness), and a grand finale of a man clad in an Iraqi flag plunging swords down his throat.
Although the circus may not be as exciting as the advertisements, many children appeared transfixed by the sight of a large tent and the trapeze hanging over the ring. READ MORE AT:
Circus draws a crowd in Houma

Albert Bucannon, show manager, selling animal food at

the petting zoo

Cara BaylesStaff Writer

Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A camel, a tiny pony and several goats munched on the grass in front of the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center Monday, ignoring the cars that slowed along Barrow Street to stare at them. Lewis and Clark Circus As crowds gathered for the 5 p.m. show of the Lewis & Clark Circus, the animals were part of a different kind of spectacle, offering rides, featured in the petting zoo and starring in the show.
During the circus season, which lasts from March through November, the traveling performers make appearances in much of the South and as far north as New Jersey.

Long Line at the Ticket Office

Lewis & Clark first came to Houma in 2007 and has visited every other year since then, making this its third visit.
Bob Childress, the circus' owner, has worked in the industry for 25 years. He said the decision to stop in Houma is one of convenience.
“When we plan our route, we line up towns in a row, and it was just a good stop for us,” Childress said as his camel, Lawrence, nuzzled him. “We get to meet a lot of different kinds of people, from Cajuns to the Yankees.”
Maria Ayala, a Lewis & Clark animal trainer and Chatham native, said one-ring circuses like theirs are at a disadvantage. Commuting by trailer and paying for gas can get expensive, and a flat tire can break the bank, she said.
The small size of the traveling show also means the staff of fewer than 30 performers double up on duties.
Ayala, a former trapeze artist, trains animals and also sells goods during the show. Her oldest son, Jose Jr., performs the Rola Bola, an impressive act that involves balancing on several wheels stacked on top of another. But that morning, she said, he helped clean up after the more:
Piccadilly Circus Rolls into Corvallis for One Day of Shows


By Heather Turner
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The Piccadilly Circus rolled into Corvallis Tuesday. It's your one-day-only chance to see all your favorite circus acts.The hour-and-a-half long show features an elephant extravaganza, a magic show with a white tiger, a boxing kangaroo, circus clowns and motorcycle daredevils somersaulting and spinning in a big "Globe of Doom."Managers say this year is more intimate than in the past."We've changed from a three ring down to a one ring. It brings the crowd closer to the circus and just creates a totally different atmosphere...It's easier to concentrate on the one ring and it's just more exciting," said Piccadilly Circus manager Zack Garden. Tuesday's shows are at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Corvallis Fairgrounds. Tickets are available at the box office. Admission is $30 for adults and free for kids.

Downtown Bridgeport celebrates Halloween season with fun, chilling events


Phyllis A.S. Boros, Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Seasonal celebrations scheduled are City Lights Gallery's "The Dark Carnival" exhibition and opening reception at 37 Markle Court; the Downtown Community Council's "Ye Thirde Annual Downtown Renaissance Faire" at Baldwin Plaza, at the corner of Fairfield Avenue and Broad Street; and "The E.G.O. or Everything Gothic & Outrageous" exhibit at Read's Artspace Gallery (also known as Sterling Market Lofts) at 1042 Broad St.
Read more:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Circus in Houma

Uploaded by HoumaToday on Oct 25, 2011
Houma, La., is a two-day stop for the Lewis and Clark Circus. Ponies, goats, horses and a camel lined the grass at the Civic Center before performances at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, 2011.

National Peanut Festival – Dothan, Alabama

Of all the peanuts grown in the United States approximately half of them come from a 100 mile radius of Dothan. The National Peanut Festival is held each fall to honor peanut growers and to celebrate the growing season.

China's National Acrobats will stretch their legs in Louisville

Written by Ken Neuhauser

Oct. 24, 2011

Sun Lili takes a live-on-the-edge, daredevil approach to acrobatics — if a routine or stunt doesn’t have dangerous or difficult parts wrapped in grace, power and beauty, it’s simply not acrobatics, she says.And that’s what gives the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China their entertainment value, said Sun, the touring show’s artistic director, through an interpreter. She added that her troupe’s 16 female and 22 male tumbling, umbrella-juggling, hand-standing, plate-spinning, gravity-defying dynamos from Beijing “specialize in what other people cannot do.”The National Acrobats are the first National Performing Arts Troupe established by the government of the People’s Republic of China, in 1950. The troupe is visiting 62 cities on its inaugural U.S. tour, with a stop in Louisville for a performance Wednesday at the Brown Theatre.“It is a very exciting tour for us to visit the U.S.A. We are going to many cities large and small and are pleased to give a diverse audience across America the opportunity to see acrobatics performed at the highest level,” said Sun.

She explained that the acrobatic tradition in China is more than 3,000 years old and was a popular amusement for both palace banquets and celebrations for the common people.The tradition has been handed down from generation to generation, with today’s performances more technical in their presentation, with lighting, music and colorful costumes made from modern fabrics but fashioned in the design of traditional Chinese dress and style.Acrobatics remain an integral part of Chinese identity, reflecting the character of Chinese people. It is important, stressed Sun, to show audiences that China is a developing, modern country and that the performers have a strong sense of humor and happiness that they “wish to share with the world.”Sun, a former acrobatic sensation, said that most of the performers began their acrobatic training at the age of 10 at the Beijing International Art School, where she is vice more:

Circus coming to Volusia, Flagler despite federal complaint

By JULIE MURPHY, Staff Writer

October 24, 2011

Posted in: East Volusia -Flagler

Cole Brothers Circus is coming to Palm Coast and Daytona Beach as it faces a federal complaint over the handling and care of elephants and other animals once used in its shows.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects circus animals, filed a complaint in July against Cole Brothers Circus, its president, Clyde Beatty Circus and an animal exhibitor in the shows. From 2006 to 2010, they failed to provide adequate care and shelter for elephants and employed a handler who lacked adequate training in handling tigers, among other violations, the complaint says.
Circus officials say the handlers and animals mentioned in the complaint no longer perform in the circus, and the animals were not under the control of Cole Brothers Circus.
"We are confident we will be cleared of these charges," said Cole Brothers' vice president Renee Storey by phone recently. "The allegations have nothing to do with us." read more:
Circus rolls into West Palm Beach

featuring a human cannonball, exotic animals and a finger-stand artist

By Jodie Wagner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, Oct. 24, 2011

WEST PALM BEACH — Lana the finger-stand artist highlights an eclectic list of performers scheduled to appear at the Cole Bros. Circus beginning Thursday.
The event runs through Sunday at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, 1111 N. Congress Ave. Showtimes are 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"We have everybody's favorites, " Cole Bros. Senior Marketing Director Dan Baltulonis said of the circus, which arrives in West Palm Beach after nine shows in Panama City Beach and four in Palm Coast. "Lana doing the finger stand is a newer, wonderful performance that people tend to like."
Also scheduled to appear this weekend are the human cannonball José Bermudez, the Ponce Family Flying Trapeze, hand balancer Eric Anthony and a menagerie of animals.
"We have elephants," Baltulonis said. "We have camels, horses and ponies. We have a poodle act, we have tigers, and of course we have clowns."
Before each show, children can take elephant, camel and pony rides and also have their faces painted.
Tickets are available online at or by calling (888) 332-5200. Prices range from $14 to $25.
The Cole Bros. Circus will move to the Royal Palm Polo Grounds in Boca Raton Nov. 3-6.
Tent-up creativity jest right for Big Apple Circus

Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus

The Big Apple Circus stays sharp by spiking big-top traditions with novel additions -- such as this porcupine.



October 25, 2011
There are two big circus trends nowadays. You can hit people over the head with a loud, garish, pseudo-poetic extravaganza such as Cirque du Soleil’s recent “Zarkana” at Radio City Music Hall. Or you can go small and alternative, with irreverent young performers, often in street clothes -- like the 7 Fingers company’s “Traces,” currently at the Union Square Theatre.
Between the two is local favorite Big Apple Circus, back at Damrosch Park for a 34th season with “Dream Big.”
The atmosphere here is old-fashioned and intimate. Because everything happens in or above a small single ring, there’s no need for binoculars to watch the acrobats, contortionists, aerialists, magicians and clowns. This is circus the way it’s meant to be: a fun experience for kids young and old.But Big Apple changes with the times, too.
“Dream Big” may be its most eye-popping production yet, thanks to director/choreographer Renaud Doucet and set/costume designer André Barbe, both of whom have extensive experience in opera.
The concept this time around is that an “imagination machine” allows people to dream up the show’s act. Mainly this is an excuse to have everybody cavort in colorful, downright nutty outfits. Many look straight out of a Tim Burton movie: Russian juggler Dmitry Chernov has an Edward Scissorhands vibe, and China’s Shandong Acrobats look like extras from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
Even the animal routines have a twist. Horses prancing around are fairly common, but when was the last time you saw an African porcupine, a Vietnamese potbellied pig and a capybara do tricks? The last gets the show’s biggest laugh, which involves the Taio Cruz hit “Dynamite.”
That’s quite a feat right there, considering the stiff competition. A welcome addition to the troupe is Dutch jester Muriel Brugman, a dizzy blonde who teases audience members and plays a hilariously dopey assistant to magician Scott Nelson.
And of course there’s Grandma the clown (Barry Lubin), for 25 years the iconic face of the Big Apple Circus.
The bad news is that “Dream Big” is Grandma’s farewell show. The good news is that once again she proves that you can’t go wrong with classics. Spitting water on unsuspecting victims, indulging in pratfalls and mugging: You don’t need to tart up this stuff -- it just doesn’t get old.Read more:

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Ronald McDonald is partially submerged in floodwaters at Don Muang district in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. The threat that floodwaters will inundate the Thai capital could ease by the beginning of next month as record-high levels in the river carrying torrents of water downstream from the country's north begin to decline, authorities said Sunday.

Sakchai Lalit - AP
State Fair takes its final bow – for this year

Rain cuts attendance, but spending picks up as 2011 edition ends

Racing pigs, Celtic dancers, fine art and elephant ears — all that and more ended Sunday night as the 142nd S.C. State Fair in Columbia took its final bow for the year.
But there were no pickpockets.
“That’s part of the carnival image of the past,” said Fair general manager Gary Goodman, who proudly described earlier Sunday how a sophisticated security system that includes metal detectors, 17 high-tech surveillance cameras with zoom capacity and some 50-60 police officers keeps crime at bay.
“We have more deputies here at nighttime probably than they have in the rest of Richland County,” said Goodman, 63, overseeing his 27th fair. Guards turned away folks who wore gang colors, including several motorcycle gang members who were asked not to wear their jackets in the fair, he said.
Attendance at the 12-day event was about 442,350 — about 10 percent off last year’s record of 492,000, Goodman said. But per capita spending was down less than 6 percent, meaning individuals were spending more per person than last year. In all the fair appeared poised to rake in a minimum of $22 million — some $1.8 million a day — this year.
More people might have come, but four rain days — including a brief but dangerous windstorm — threw attendance off.
An Oct. 13 storm prompted fair officials to activate an emergency evacuation plan for the first time, Goodman said. People were ushered into permanent buildings before heavy winds hit, knocking concession stands around and blowing signs off hinges.
“In our business, weather is something you have to roll with,” said Goodman, mindful of the August high winds at the Indiana State Fair that killed five and injured 45.
One thing that surprised Goodman this year was the number of unclaimed lost cell phones — 100 at last count Sunday afternoon. But none were smartphones like the iPhone, he said. “Their owners don’t lose them, or if they do, they are waiting on them to be found,” he said.Read more:
Crowds fill fair but spend far less


Macon Crowder, 18, and his friend, Mercedez Sanderson, 15, stroll a midway as they carry winnings Sunday at the State Fair. Total attendance through Saturday was 903,674. That's second only to last year's 1,091,887.
BY PAUL A. SPECHT / The News and Observer

RALEIGH -- While more than 1 million people crossed through the gates of the N.C. State Fair this year, it wasn't enough to beat last year's record crowd, state officials estimate.
But N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler isn't complaining.
"I couldn't ask for more in an economy like this," he said Sunday.
The total attendance for the fair was 1,009,173, fair officials announced today. That's second only to last year's 1,091,887 - despite high unemployment and a $1 increase in ticket prices.
While high attendance is good news for the state, it doesn't always signal what people are spending inside the gates.
And this year, vendors say they're seeing smaller profits, while fairgoers say they're keeping more money in their pockets.
Read more:

Evansville's Hadi Shrine Circus moving to a new tent

JAMES MCAULEY / Courier & Press

The Hadi Shrine Circus, shown here during a November2010 show, will come to Ford Center and leave behind the obstructed-view seats of Roberts Stadium.It's been a while, but moving to a new facility is nothing new to the annual Hadi Shrine Circus, which is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend in the new Ford Center.

By Richard Gootee Evansville Courier & Press

Posted October 23, 2011
"We've had a history in Evansville with different venues," said Shriner Brian Ball. "This is 78th circus and we started with our very first circus on Riverside Drive, then we moved to the coliseum a few years later and then we moved to Roberts Stadium when it opened in 1957. Now we're just following suit and moving right into the Ford Center."

This year's eight-show run starts with a 3 p.m. opening performance on Thanksgiving Day and includes three shows on Friday and Saturday. The circus closes with a Sunday matinee performance at 3 p.m. Ball said there was no hesitation to become one of the first events during the Ford Center's opening month and that he hopes all spectators have an enhanced viewing experience compared to past years.
"There is really not going to be a bad seat in the house. In the past, there have been obstructions just because of the way Roberts Stadium was set."

Just like at Roberts Stadium, there is enough space to serve as an animal staging area, Ball said.
"We might need a couple extra external places to keep mechanical equipment and vehicles and things like that, but otherwise I think it will work out well."
It will also be the only event in the Ford Center planned this year without the sheet of ice used for Evansville Icemen home hockey games. Normally when the building is being used for other events, the ice lies protected underneath a layer of insulation.
Ball said the Shriners have already toured the Ford Center and are excited about their first show in the new place.
"Right now, we're not seeing anything that we can't do that we have done in the past. It's going to be a great circus this year. We're going to continue to bring some of the best acts that we can find — nationally and internationally — to the Evansville area for everybody to see at this year's circus."

VIDEO: Thrills at the S.C. State Fair

BY Tim Dominick -

Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

Elephant Encounter offers learning, fun

By Kelly Dame

Midland Daily News

Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Cora and Shannon the elephants will be helping to teach Midland County Fair goers all about elephants at the “Elephant Encounter” show.
“The educational part is the highlight of the show,” said Bill Morris, a third-generation elephant trainer. The lessons include the differences in African and Asian pachyderms — Shannon is a 26-year-old African elephant, and Cora is a 50-year-old Asian elephant.
Morris said the chance to learn something about the animals is something parents frequently comment to him about, saying it’s easier for their kids to learn in person than from a book.

Elephant Encounter offers learning, fun
The show is also fun for both the audience and the animals.
“You can tell it in her eyes that she really likes the appreciation from the crowd,” he said of Cora.
Morris has spent his life around elephants, including Cora, learning about their personalities and bonding with them. His father owned 19 elephants, and his grandfather owned seven.
“That’s why we can do a show like we do,” Morris said. “We have a rapport with them.” Photographs at the show’s website,, shows photos of a 2-year-old Shannon, another of Morris teaching her how to smile elephant-style, and pictures of Cora as she worked on the set of “Smokey and the Bandit 2,” a movie released in 1980. There also are videos of the elephants at home in Florida.
Owning and working with the elephants is a lifetime commitment, since they can live to be 80 years old or more, Morris said.
There will be three shows daily during the fair.
• According to the Guinness Book of Records, the biggest elephant ever recorded was a male African elephant from Angola that weighted 24,000 pounds. It is mounted at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
• Although elephants do have good memories, they forget once in a while. Possessing a good memory helps elephants survive in the wild. It enables them to find food and water during times of drought and avoid danger when necessary.
• Technically, elephants are incapable of running. However they can walk very fast, and have been clocked at 18 to 20 mph.
• An elephant’s trunk is made of many different types of tissue, but contains no bone. The number of muscles within the trunk is estimated to be as high as 100,000.
• Elephants are not afraid of mice. If an elephant were to encounter a mouse, it would likely ignore it. If an elephant was bored, it might try to crush a mouse with it’s foot!
Elephant Encounter offers learning, fun

NC State Fair enters its final hours
Huge crowds and jammed traffic packed the state fair grounds Saturday

Worth a buck? The World's Smallest Woman

from The Raleigh News Observer

Submitted by brookecain on 10/22/2011

The World's Smallest Woman is not only real and alive (and really small), she's also kind of charming and a little sad.

I went in to check it out right after Jasmine, 20, from Selma exited. I got the lowdown from her before heading inside myself.Was it a live woman?"She's not just alive, she's lively!" Jasmine said. "She may be tiny sitting in that little box, but she's just as real as me and you." (Forgive my skepticism, I had just been here.)Was she little?Jasmine: "I could pick her up like she was my little niece. I've never seen anyone that small."What's she like?"She's humble and nice," Jasmine said. "She'll tell you all about her life, anything you ask."You mean, you talk to her?

Suddenly, I wasn't sure I wanted to go in. Finally, something at the fair that scared me. I was used to gawking at giant horses, five-legged sheep, a ridiculous spider girl, and fake, mummified chupa cabras. Would I feel like a jerk facing a live person with feelings? (Answer: yes)

But I went in.

Sure enough, sitting inside a small wooden box was a little tiny woman.

She was wearing a simple dress and a kerchief on her head, sitting on a tiny chair with her hands folded her lap. She looked down at her hands and didn't seem particularly happy. When I said hello to her, she smiled. I asked her name and she said Gloria Rhoden and told me she was from Jamaica. I asked her if she liked sitting there talking to people all day and she answered simply, "Oh, it's a pleasure."I thanked her and left.

But I couldn't stop thinking about her.

Mostly, I worried about kids and mean teenagers making fun of her to her face or being rude to her.

I'll be honest -- the whole thing has depressed me all week. Then earlier today I Googled her and found this article from a few years ago in the Roanoke Times. In it, Rhoden insists she's happy, and I'm going to choose to believe her, just so I can sleep at night.So is it worth the $1 admission? Jasmine says yes: "I think it was very worth it!"I say yes too. Go see her and talk to her, drop a buck or two in her tip jar. Just be nice to her.Read more:

Ride the RC-48 roller coaster

Oct. 23, 2011

Ride the RC-48, a 54 foot tall roller coaster, with Paul Bassett and his 14-year-old son Justin at the State Fair. TRAVIS LONG -

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Circus is coming to Houma

Elizabeth Ayala performs part of her trapeze act. The Ayalas are part of 14 acts performing in the Lewis and Clark Circus, which returns for performances at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25 at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, 346 Civic Center Blvd.

Keyon K. Jeff, Correspondent


October 21, 2011
The circus brings family fun for any audience. But the family fun also extends to the performers.
For many circuses, it is not unusual to have two or three generations performing under the same big top.
"The best thing about being in the circus is having my family with me all day," said animal trainer Maria Ayala, who along with her husband and four children perform with the Lewis and Clark Circus. "I don't have to not see them. A lot of parents have to leave their kids all day home alone. They're always here."
The Ayalas are part of 14 high-energy acts performing in the Lewis and Clark Circus, which returns for performances at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25 at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, 346 Civic Center Blvd.
Ayala, 42, is a fourth-generation circus performer who did the flying trapeze and other acts before training animals. Her husband, Jose, is a sixth-generation performer from Mexico.
He and middle son, Andy, 14, are the clowns in the show and performs a trampoline act along with youngest son, Brandon, 10.
Their eldest son, Jose Jr., 22, is an acrobat who performs the Rola Bola, an act involving balancing higher and higher on a board on top of cylinders.
Their daughter, Elizabeth, 20, is a trapeze artist who does an act where she hangs by her hair.
Despite the constant travel and living and working together, the Ayalas — who reside in Chatman, — try to maintain as normal a family life as possible.



Uploaded by VIDEOSJUMBO on Jul 20, 2010

Int'l circus festival kicks off in N. China


SHIJIAZHUANG, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- More than 200 acrobats from 17 countries and regions have participated in a major international circus festival that kicked off on Saturday evening in north China's Hebei Province.
Acrobatic artists from Russia, the United States, Canada, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Australia, France and other countries will present 30 performances during the 13th China Wuqiao International Circus Festival (CWICF).
Acrobatic Swan Lake, which is dubbed as "the most beautiful acrobatics and the most dangerous ballet", was staged at the opening ceremony in Shijiazhuang, capital city of Hebei.
The major activities of the nine-day festival include an international circus competition, forums on world circus and circus art exchanges.
The judging committee for the competition is made up of 10 foreign experts and two Chinese scholars. The prize for the top award, Gold Lion, will be 50,000 yuan (7,835 U.S. dollars).
Known as "oriental acrobatic arena," the event was originated in 1987 and is held every other year.
Taking friendship, exchange, prosperity and development as its theme, this year's festival is co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Hebei provincial government.
The repertoires will feature different cultural backgrounds and national styles, contain various acrobatic skills and highlight the characteristics of modern circus art, said Bian Faji, chairman of the judging committee.
The CWICF, named after the birthplace of acrobatics -- Wuqiao County of Hebei, is considered one of the three most famed acrobatic competitions in the world along with the Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival in Monaco and the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain (the World Festival of the Circus of Tomorrow) in France.