2014 Convention



Saturday, January 14, 2012


Another unit just out of our winterquarters paint shop, looking good and ready to roll. In just 3 weeks the Kelly Miller Fleet will make a right turn out of winterquarters and head south

Kelly Miller Circus
December 21, 2010
A new year.....a new coat of paint. Artist extrordinaire Robert Rawls is busy at our winterquarters giving our mechanic's shop truck a new look. Opening day for our 2012 tour is just 39 days away. We send best wishes to all for a wonderful 2012.

Scott Land - Presents Carl Ballantine Marionette Puppet

Uploaded by eMediaITnet on Jun 3, 2011
Scott Land, ( ThePuppetMan dot com) the famous puppeteer from the South Park, Team America film, created this masterpiece marionette of comedy magician and actor, Carl Ballantine.
The puppet performs a charming stylized version of Mr. Ballantine's original act. This performance is from the world famous Hollywood, Magic Castle. We hope you enjoy!

New film details Athens brothers' aerial circus

SPECIAL In one of their stunts, a plane would fly over the moving car - dubbed the World's Smallest Airport - and pick up one of the Thrasher brothers.

Published Saturday, January 14, 2012

Athens, Ga-The photographs, 8mm film, yellowed newspaper clippings and other dusty memorabilia from the high-flying daredevil days of 1945-50 lay stored away for decades in dark closets.
But in coming days, those images will have new life when “The World’s Smallest Airport,” a documentary film about The Thrasher Brothers Aerial Circus, will be shown at the Ciné Bar Cafe and Cinema in Athens. The shows are a benefit for the Athens Film Arts Institute.
Showings are set for 5:15 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and a showing at 7:30 p.m. Monday with a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers. A special by-invitation showing is set for Jan. 21 in Elberton, where the Thrasher brothers based their business.
Retired lawyer Grady Thrasher III, who calls Athens and Watkinsville home, hired writer Matt DeGennaro to produce the film.
The Aerial Circus was owned by Thrasher’s father, Grady Thrasher Jr., and his brothers, Richard, known as “Bud,” and Tunis Thrasher, all deceased. The men performed aerial stunts, including one in which Bud Thrasher stood on top of the plane as it coursed the skies. But their most popular stunt was landing a plane atop a moving car.
The idea for a movie came while Thrasher was compiling the memorabilia for a DVD to give relatives at a family reunion.

SPECIAL The Thrasher brothers, Bud, from left, Tunis and Grady, purchased some World War II surplus planes and created an aerial circus performing from New York to Texas for a five-year period.
“My father had accumulated all this stuff we used,” Thrasher said. “What I intended to do was preserve these old films — the 8mm was deteriorating — and somebody said it could be a documentary.”
“The coolest thing about this is we have Grady’s father telling the story,” said DeGennaro, a native of Connecticut, who has lived in Watkinsville the past eight years. Finding an old video of Thrasher’s father giving a presentation about the business in 1989 bolstered the film’s impact, according to DeGennaro.
The Aerial Circus was born after World War II when Thrasher purchased some surplus planes — Piper Cubs, a Stearman biplane and two Ercoupes — from the U.S. Army for $200 to $500 each and a new 1946 Ford car.
“They planned to teach people how to fly and give rides, but couldn’t generate much business,” said Grady Thrasher, who was only 4 years old at the time. “My dad really thought that personal aviation was going to be the transportation preference of the future with small airplanes, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.”
The Thrashers would fly over Athens dropping advertising leaflets for the business and the local airport authority thought they shouldn’t be doing that, Thrasher said. Nor were they keen on stunt fliers at the airport.
So the brothers moved their business to Elberton’s airport, which at the time consisted of a pasture and one hangar. From there, the circus went on the road from New York to Texas to Miami.
They performed 384 times over a five-year period closing the show in 1950 in Charleston, S.C.
“He couldn’t buy insurance or get a bank loan,” Thrasher said as lenders were wary of men participating in such a risky death-defying business. So the brothers “sold everything and pursued other careers,” Thrasher said.
Among the most celebrated stunt was the landings and takeoffs on a wooden platform on top of a moving car.
The driver of the car would slow down when he felt the wheels touch the platform and the pilot would cut the engine of the plane, Thrasher said.
“They had to do this without having access to communication between each other and they had to do it fast because they only had about 2,000 feet (of runway) to do it,” he said.
The elder Thrasher also took two Ercoupe planes and bolted them together to make one plane — piloted from one cockpit. No one else had done this, but the plane flew. And Thrasher said he knows of no one else, other than his father, who has tried this feat.
When the business ended, the elder Thrasher remained in the aircraft field working on an army base at Dothan, Ala., where he maintained and flew helicopters.
“He was a daredevil,” DeGennaro said about the man. “But he was very matter-of-fact about all of this.”




Angela Martin checking out the joint!

Yesterday I was surfing around the internet and found these

on Billy's Facebook pages.

Most of these were taken last week on the show now in upper New York State.

Familiar pre-show work!

Just like old times, Saturday Morning Donuts

Charley VanBuskirk visits with Billy

I beleive most of these fotos were taken by Kim Sue Vala.


Looks like a Standing Room only show!

Rod and Pat Wainwright and Billy

Billy getting "The Band" ready

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Circus comes to Casper Road: Cleveland Remembers

Plain Dealer

The Barnum & Bailey Circus unloads in Cleveland, in 1937.

Special To The Plain Dealer

January 11, 2012

Every year, when I was growing up, a small circus would would set up on a large lot near Casper Road on the east side of Cleveland. It would only be there for less than a week.
It was a magnet for all the neighborhood children. We never had any money to go to the sideshow to view the Fat Lady/Bearded Lady, ride on the rides, or see the tent show, but we would spend hours wandering around the outside of all the attractions. Our mothers always warned us to be careful so that we wouldn’t be stolen by the carnies.
-- Eleanor Burrow, Mentor
Editor's note: We couldn't track down the circus mentioned here. Most of the big circuses set up shop along the lakefront, although we did find one mention of a major one making a one-night stand right around where Collinwood High stands now. However, lots of smaller circuses also made the circuit in the first half of the last century, stopping in various spots around town as well as in the surrounding suburbs.
If you've got memories of circuses, big or small, anywhere in Northeast Ohio, please share them through our online submission more at:
Circus-goer: ‘Clown ripped my hair out’


Tennessee Mansford

12 Jan 2012

Queenstown woman has been put off the circus, claiming a clown painfully yanked her hair out.
Jodie Thompson, 35, attended Circus Aotearoa in Queenstown with her mother and three children last Friday when she claims a performer ripped some of her hair out and placed it on another audience member’s bald head.
Thomp­­­­­­son, seated ringside, says she believes it was the ringmaster who was dressed as a clown.
Thompson says she thought the performer was having some fun ruffling her hair until she claims he tore about eight strands out.
The early childhood teacher says her head hurt for an hour afterwards.
“You shouldn’t be touching people’s bodies like that, it was quite violating.”
Thompson, gifted the tickets to the circus featuring graduates in circus arts from Christchurch Polytechnic, says she’s glad she didn’t have to pay as she felt the performance was substandard.
“I’d never go back – I’ve been to circuses since I was a little girl and I couldn’t believe it,” she says.
Thompson’s mother Heather Thompson says she’s fuming and can’t believe what happened.
“I could see these strands. I thought, ‘What in the hell is he doing?’ and the next thing he yanked it,” Heather says.
“You can’t just go round doing that to people.”
Circus co-director Paddy Gordon says the clown was just interacting with the crowd and he claims only pulled one strand of hair out.
“I can’t really see how it is an issue, clowns play around,” he says.
“I think the real issue is how PCness is killing a lot of things.”
Gordon says audience members sitting in the front row are warned the performers will interact with them – it says so on the tickets.
The circus, which had a four-show run last weekend at Queenstown’s Warren Park, near Wakatipu High, kicks off in Gore tomorrow.
Circus Oz hits Sydney full steam ahead

By James Gorman

11 JAN 12

CIRCUS Oz is back with an all- new, steam-powered show to impress, amaze and astonish.
Circus Oz has captured the imagination of audiences since it began in 1978, with trapeze, acrobatics, juggling, precision hoop diving, human pyramids, in-line skating - and even a bit of magic.
Steam Powered is an industrial affair with loud, live music and amazing acts inspired by a fantastical neo-Victorian time, a place where romance meets newly industrialised technology.
Sarah Ward, who plays MC and rambunctious Boss Lady, said that it was Circus Oz’s ability to not take itself too seriously drew her to the show.
“Circus Oz has a really larrikin sense of humour,” she said.
“There is a huge scope for comedy and I think that is one of its strong points. That is why I was so drawn to it: you can muck around.
“I also get to travel Australia and see parts of the world that you normally wouldn’t get to see,” Ward said.
Highlights of the show include a deconstructionist “artistic bicycle” routine, Fantaysia Fitness, highly inventive trapeze acts and a great band.
Circus Oz is planning a new headquarters in Victoria.
Circus Oz is in town until January 29, under the Big Top at Darling Harbour

Amusements for carnivals, fairs is family legacy

TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/ Charles Panacek’s family has owned Belle City Amusements for 68 years and has done the Manatee County Fair for the last five years. The Manatee County Fair officially opens Thursday afternoon at the fairgrounds in Palmetto.



Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012

PALMETTO -- Charles Panacek didn’t have to run off as a boy when he wanted to join the carnival.The carnival came to him.This week, the carnival was all around Panacek, as nearly 200 of his workers set up 54 rides big and small around the Manatee County Fairgrounds for Thursday’s 5 p.m. opening of the 96th annual Manatee County Fair. “When it’s in your blood, it’s hard to get it out,” said the 48-year-old owner of Deltona-based Belle City Amusements, Inc., now in its 68th year.Nearby, laborers finished erecting the 100-foot high Belle City Giant Wheel.The whine of a power drill and the clank of steel struts being fastened together were like a symphony to Panacek, who’s began working for his parents at 12 and been doing this full time almost 30 years.

“As a kid it’s always fun to imagine being able to travel with the carnival all summer long,” he said. “Then in college I realized this was the business I was going to be in. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it’s long hours, but we are unique.“There’s so much entertainment out there for people to spend their money on, but the county fair comes only once a year. We’re proud of our heritage and want to keep that nostalgia there.”It’s his father’s legacy.

New Shanghai Circus & Starry Night Cinema at the MACC

The New Shanghai Circus will return to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 16 and 17, to perform three beautifully orchestrated shows in the Castle Theater.

January 12, 2012

The Maui Weekly

On Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 16 and 17, the New Shanghai Circus will return to Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) to perform three beautifully orchestrated shows in the Castle Theater.
During the Han Dynasty two millennia ago, Chinese audiences witnessed the first acrobats, magicians and jugglers. Acrobatics, which showcase amazing skills of strength and balance, developed out of the lunar New Year village harvest celebrations. Chinese farmers and craftsmen, having relatively little to do over the long winter, spent their time improving their positions on the social ladder by becoming acrobats.
They practiced the art form with just about anything they could find around their homes--cups, saucers, tables, chairs, plates--even their own bodies, with which they built human walls and pyramids. Performers passed their skills down through the generations, and great acrobatic families of China entertained everyone from city rulers to village people.
Building on these traditional performances, artists of today's New Shanghai Circus add layers of complexity and daring with new techniques and spectacular stunts, thrilling audiences around the globe.
Kids of all ages, from preschool to senior citizen, will enjoy the circus performers as they dive through hoops, balance on each other's shoulders and legs on a unicycle, or spin dozens of plates on the ends of bamboo. Contortionists will enthrall as they bend and twist with graceful movement to form living sculptures.
Bring the whole family! Tickets are $12, $20 and $26, plus applicable fees. A Saigon Cafe will cater pre-show dining.

New Circus Act Takes On Europe (Video)

January 11, 2012
by Will McDowell
NoFit State Shaping up in London
The most pioneering circus group since Cirque du Soleil has landed in London. What started out as a small group of young graduates and a youth worker entertaining the streets of Cardiff has transformed into NoFit State Circus, Europe’s best new circus.
Take a London flight and you’ll get a chance to see NoFit State Circus for yourself. Ali Williams, a co-runner of this circus group of the moment said ‘Cirque du Soleil’s skill level is incredible,’ but ‘their shows are boring.’
NoFit State hopes to inject a new sense of personality and accessibility into their stunning shows, which have been impressing Europe for years. The group has given way to an exclusive collaboration between the National Theatre Wales and the Théâtre Tattoo de Toulouse. Their stage performance at these two top Europe theatres will be revived this month in London.
One of the two remaining co-founders who begun their journey 25 years ago is Rack, ‘Circus creates a sense of escape that you might not get from other art forms.’
NoFit State should be ready and in shape for The London International Mime Festival, which starts on January 11. The company will be performing to a London crowd at the Queen Elizabeth Hall from January 20 with following shows later in the year.
Source: The Telegraph
Video: rotterdam0892 (YouTube)
IW Fair wins awards

Isle of Wight County Fair Coordinator Darlene Keyt and Fair Chairman Mike Stephens recently attended the Virginia Association of Fairs Conference in Hot Springs. Isle of Wight County received the second-place overall award for mid-size fairs in Virginia.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Isle of Wight County Fair was honored for the second year in a row at the Virginia Association of Fairs Conference in Hot Springs.
Representatives from the Isle of Wight County Fair Committee submitted 17 marketing items for judging in the VAF Communication Awards.
The IW Fair won 13 communication awards, earning the county the overall second-place title for mid-sized Fairs in Virginia.
First-place awards were received for the fair map, a photographic essay, a New Age scrapbook created by Pat Hodge and a radio ad created by Eagle 97.
Second-place honors were awarded for billboard design, website, advertising/merchandise and pageant book.
Third-place awards were given for best magazine article, media scrapbook, fair poster, fair theme and fair t-shirt design.
“With approximately 50 Virginia fairs represented at this event, it is an honor to be No. 2 in the state for mid-size fairs,” said Darlene Keyt, fair coordinator, who noted that the county had missed first place by only a point. “That’s just the motivation we needed to get going for 2012.”
The 2012 Isle of Wight County Fair is scheduled for Sept. 13–16 at Heritage Park in Windsor.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


1947, EMAUS PA.


Larry sent these pictures along with the Showman's Circus posters.

The Show Lot in Emaus was right across the street fron Nancy's Dads Home.

Larry's hoping some one can identify the subjects in the fotos.

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Lee Stevens, Ringmaster & committe chairman & Gary Sladek

Tommy Leibel Family

Franzen Elephants

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Can you put an identity on any others?



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Tuesday, January 10, 2012





FROM: Larry Snyder

Unfortunately this was the only picture Larry got to Me.

Hopefully later today more will arrive.

I understand they had a terriffic show this year!

And all three shows were packed!



August 14, 1995 in Urbana, IL


Prop trailer with Office

Electric hook up box

Murillos Family

Back drop for indoor show

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