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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lost and Found Circus, Dogs and Oscars Top the Weekend: Time Out Chicago

Friday, 24 Feb 2012,

FOX Chicago News and Time Out Chicago

Amazing acrobats: Fairbanks Concert Association brings the New Shanghai Circus to town

The New Shanghai Circus is considered China’s most celebrated acrobatic company. The group celebrates the exotic wonders of China while showcasing dramatic interpretations of ancient dances. Photo courtesy of Fairbanks Concert Association

by Julie Stricker /

Fairbanks Daily News Miner
Feb 24, 2012

FAIRBANKS - There are few things more cherished in a child’s life than a trip to the circus.

The Fairbanks Concert Association is bringing that dream to life for hundreds of children in Interior Alaska on Sunday with the New Shanghai Circus.

The New Shanghai Circus is an extravaganza of 23 gravity-defying acrobats, jugglers and contortionists whose skills have won rave reviews and sold out shows across the country.

Performers, whose routines are grounded in 2,000-year-old old Chinese harvest festivals, perform amazing feats of strength, agility, timing and balance.

Acts include a Chinese yo-yo performance, bicycle tricks, stacked chairs, spinning plates, spinning humans and humans contorting themselves in impossible positions.

“It’s kind of an amazing show,” said Anne Biberman, FCA executive director. It’s tailor-made for families, which is deliberate on the part of the Fairbanks Concert Association, Biberman said. “We have at least one program every year that we charge about half what an average concert costs so that families can afford to go to it together,” she said. “We think that’s a good thing and we’re committed to that.”

New Shanghai Circus.

Photos courtesy Fairbanks Concert Association

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New offbeat circus combines acrobats, break dancing, basketball
‘Traces,’ a new circus from Quebec that combines acrobatics, basketball, music and dance, comes to Segerstrom Center next week

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Combining acrobatics, dance, music, song, skateboarding and basketball, "Traces" is the product of an unorthodox Quebecois group, “les 7 doigts de la main” (seven fingers of the hand). “Traces” comes to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts from Feb. 29 through March 4.

Cirque de Soleil, the Quebec-based circus that took Southern California by storm a generation ago, opened the door to a colorful realm of new entertainment forms. Suddenly, mainstream audiences embraced offbeat culture: The Blue Man Group's mute, crazy antics and Stomp's noisy percussion celebrations are just two examples of the world the Cirque helped open up.
"Traces" is the latest example of the trend. Combining acrobatics, dance, music, song, skateboarding and basketball, it's the product of another unorthodox Quebecois group, "les 7 doigts de la main" (seven fingers of the hand). "Traces" comes to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts from Feb. 28 through March 4.

The Register talked to Shana Carroll, who cofounded "7 doigts" in 2002 and directed "Traces."
The Orange County Register: Besides not being in a tent, what differentiates a show like yours from a Cirque du Soleil production?
Shana Carroll: It's circus on a human scale. We want to make sure that the seven performers are easy to relate to. We want the audience to feel that each performer could be someone they know. The costumes are very minimal. Throughout the show they reveal bits of personal data, telling the story of their lives. Little by little, you get to know them.
Register: What else makes your show unique?

read more at:

Circus under the eyes of Taliban a highwire act

Spreading "humour and hugs" ... George Gittoes, Ashid the pixie-faced midget and Dali the money stand in front of a deflated big top. Photo: Wagar Alam


February 25, 2012.

George Gittoes has found inspiration at the front line of conflicts, writes John Huxley. They arrive in the badlands of Afghanistan in a blaze of colour, a babble of nervous laughter. Dancers. Singers. Mime-artists. Dali, a performing monkey. Ashid, a pixie-faced midget who packs a flick-knife. A traditional circus troupe, they are led by a self-styled "love-crazy Australian" driving a bright-blue, World War II truck, left behind by the Russians. Under the bemused supervision of Taliban elders, they hand out lollies to inquisitive local kids, erect a big-top tent, painted in psychedelic colours, and set up a home entertainment centre, brought from Sydney.Over two days, this company of angels frolic across the makeshift stage, miming, mock-fighting, screening movies, making friends with an audience that has no school, no doctor, no TV, no electricity. Miraculously, showtime has come to the Tora Bora mountains, the Taliban stronghold where for several years the US Army hunted Osama bin Laden. "We did it. We did it," George Gittoes shouts crazily, as he poses for a picture, Ashid on one arm, Dali on the other, flanked by stern-looking Talibs. "And, we're still alive." The Sydney-born artist and movie maker and international agent provocateur for peace, has been planning a trip into the mountains for years. It is part of his mission to save the regional Pashtun film industry. It is being bombed out of existence by Taliban and other fundamentalists in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan. Over the past five years, he has made five Pashto-language docos and dramas, including the funny-scary Miscreants of Taliwood, which is subtitled, George Gittoes's Extreme Tour of Terror Central.Read more:

Friday, February 24, 2012


Circus music: And the beat goes on

February 24, 2012

Richard Whitmarsh has been recording his "Sounds of the Circus" series for the past 40 years and, at age 88, shows no signs of slowing down the pace. Lane Talburt sat in on the band's most recent recording session--for albums 57 and 58 (to be released later this year)--on the stage of the East Bridgewater, MA, high school auditorium. He interviewed Whitmarsh and members of the band about their contributions to preserving the rich heritage (and variety) of circus music in America.On a personal note, my 52 videos--now 53--logged their 50,000th hit earlier this week. I've been uploading videos to YouTube since March 2010.

See you down the road.

Lane Talburt
Circus music: And the beat goes on

Uploaded by LaneInConn on Feb 23, 2012
With Richard Whitmarsh as its four-decades-long conductor, the South Shore Concert Band gathers on a high school auditorium stage in Southeastern Massachusetts to record circus music for its 57th and 58th albums. Lane Talburt videotaped the session and chatted with Whitmarsh and windjammers.
Yankee Doodle Circus proves to be a big hit

Wicked Local staff photo by Tom Gorman.

The Fashionista” performs .

By Jeanne M. Rideout

Wicked Local Holbrook

Posted Feb 23, 2012
Holbrook — Poodles and ponies and clowns were part of the Yankee Doodle Circus at Holbrook Junior/Senior High School Feb. 18.
By popular demand, the circus will return to Holbrook next spring.
“The Yankee Doodle Circus was a huge hit,” said Maggie Brady, co-chair of the sponsoring Holbrook Junior/Senior High School Parent Group. “Parents and children alike were raving on how fun the day was, and told us they enjoyed the show. We will definitely be bringing back the Yankee Doodle Circus next year.”
More than 203 adults attended, most with two children in tow.
The profit for the parents group from the fundraiser was $2,070, double the estimated $1,000 the group had hoped for, Brady said.
One sign of the success of the circus was online sales.
“We had 66 online tickets sold, which is a large amount, according to the circus' engagement director Margaret Naughton,” Brady said.
Yankee Doodle Circus offers clowns, pony rides, mini-trapeze artists and acrobatic puppies, and Brady recommends it to other groups seeking a fundraiser.
“Mike Naughton, who is the ringmaster and developer of the circus, is a true professional, and it was such a pleasure to have them come to Holbrook,” she said. “He has many fond memories of the previous trips to Holbrook. They are a self-contained fundraising unit and take care of absolutely everything.”
Proceeds from the three performances of the Feb. 18 circus will enable the parents group with activities such as funding the annual $250 scholarship for a graduating Holbrook High senior. The group hopes to establish a second scholarship. The parent group also funds projects, including purchasing technology for classrooms, supplying lab equipment for science classes and bringing academic enrichment programs to Holbrook.
For more, see the Feb. 24 Holbrook Sun. Read more:


Wicked Local staff photos by Tom Gorman

Yankee Doodle Circus clown Pat Cashin spins a plate.

Ivan Arista performs on his unicycle.

Alex Arista circles the ring on a unicycle.

Youngsters applaud the performances.
Cirque Romanè: The Gypsy Circus in danger of deportation

Thursday, February 23, 2012

- From Naïve to Native in Madrid

by Scott Figatner


MADRID, February 23, 2012—Societal outcasts in many European countries, gypsies often struggle to integrate themselves while retaining their cultural identity. One group of successful Parisian gypsies clearly knows the ropes.
Cirque Romanè, the only remaining gypsy circus in Europe, is holding on tightly to their roots. Parisians have filled the bleachers of the circus tent for 18 years to watch a show combining various spectacles such as acrobatics, dancing, juggling, tightrope walking and animal tricks.
Surrounded by trailers, the circus tent is dark. A few spotlights illuminate the worn area rugs, which form the stage. Bursting out from behind the sheets that form the backstage area, musicians play with drunken jolliness while dancing and shouting. The performers, both children and adults, do stunts and tricks with a contagious playfulness and a third-try’s-the-charm attitude.
However, any show could be their grand finale.
On August 26, 2010, France deported 700 gypsies to Romania and offered small monetary rewards for anyone who left voluntarily. The previous year, the government reported that they deported over 10,000 Roma sans citizenship.
The authorities refused to validate the work permits of five musicians who are in danger of deportation.
Combating accusations of the integrity of their circus, the family rallied with thousands against gypsy deportations in October of 2010. While deportation was the spark that started the fire, issues go far beyond politics.
In Spain, the rejection of gypsies from society is an age-old phenomenon. Roma have lived in Spain since the 15th century and have endured harsh laws, treatments and overall attempts to exclude them.
Madrileños, people from Madrid, can usually spot them on the street and most keep their distance. They also have a “mala fama” or bad reputation for being thieves. The majority of madrileños would think twice about using a cleaning service run by gypsies or allowing them in their homes at all. Many neighborhoods refuse to accept them.
Beyond rejection, “gitanos” are often the victims of public anger and racism.
read more at:

In ‘Circa,’ Australian circus comes to town

Australian troupe Circa blends traditional circus, contemporary acrobatics

Justin Nicholas In “Circa,’’ sensible shoes are not necessarily de rigueur.

By Jeffrey Gantz Globe Correspondent


February 24, 2012

Circus is something of a new look for the Celebrity Series of Boston, which for decades was mostly a showcase of the best in classical music, jazz, and dance. Of course, when you consider that Gary Dunning, the organization’s new president and executive director, was the longtime executive director of the Big Apple Circus, you see an apparent connection to next week’s Boston debut of Circa. But Dunning points out that when he came on board last year, Circa - an Australian contemporary circus company - had already been booked for some time.
Circa has several shows in its repertory, but “Circa’’ is the one it will perform Wednesday through March 4 on the Paramount Center Mainstage, with a cast of seven and music ranging from Leonard Cohen to Sigur Rós, Aphex Twin, and Venetian Snares.
“Some of the techniques in balancing hand-to-hand come straight out of the old tradition,’’ Dunning says, “but it’s been blended with a contemporary stage and dance vocabulary.’’read more at:
A circus aswirl

Daredevils show their dragon hearts at the Wells Fargo Center.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & BaileyThe Flying Caceres, top, will attempt a full twisting double bar-to-bar somersault.

By Matt Huston Inquirer Staff Writer


Fri, Feb. 24, 2012

In an industry known for big things - big tents, big animals, big crowds - it might be hard to outdo a show that explores the fiercest creature of mythology in the luckiest year of the Chinese zodiac.
The sister-sister partnership behind a new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey production is setting the tent pole high.
"Dragons," the circus tour running through Monday at the Wells Fargo Center, may be the most thematic, modern, and inclusive one yet. In coordination with the Chinese Year of the Dragon, the show - conceived by Alana and Nicole Feld - targets a tech-savvy generation of children by blending contemporary with traditional elements, high-tech with human-powered spectacles, and fantasy with reality.
"When kids and families come to the arena, they are comparing our show to what they see at a rock concert and what they are doing with a video game," Nicole Feld said in an interview.
There will be dragons. But someone has to lure them out of hiding: That duty falls to a diverse cast of performers, including clowns, "Cossacks," martial artists and aerial contortionists. In order to summon the beasts, the cast must exhibit four dragon traits: courage, wisdom, heart, and strength.
A family of eight motorcyclists blazing around the inside of a steel globe requires at least a few of those characteristics. So does the rider who hangs off a horse galloping at 40 m.p.h.
"They're putting forth the most incredible feats to summon this dragon," which reveals itself gradually throughout the event, Alana said. "The more incredible the feat the performers do, the more the dragon starts to show itself."
If dragons seem like a boyish fixation, the Feld sisters' production demonstrates that their spirit spans the gender line. The lead creators of "Dragons" are women, as are the performers offering some of the show's most dangerous acts.
Read more: Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Circus comes to town

Beautiful Christina performs her acrobats in the air. (CariSue Flores for the Sun-News)

CariSue Flores for the


SILVER CITY,NM - The Magicland Circus arrived in Santa Clara on Tuesday, where it entertained children of all ages at the National Guard Armory located off US 180.Spot the Dog and Mickey Mouse greeted the young audience members, who were allowed to sit along the ring side. Spaghetti the Clown had members of the audience help tossing his hat on his head, and he jumped rope and juggled while riding on a unicycle. Mr. Franklin did some daring balancing acts. Princess Amanda escaped from a treasure chest, beautiful Christina performed elegant acrobats on a high rope and, lastly, Sponge Bob made a special appearance to meet and greet the children after the show.

Spaghetti the Clown juggled bowling pins while riding on a... (CariSue Flores for the Sun-News)

1952 - Bugs Bunny - 14-Carrot Rabbit

1952 WB Bugs Bunny cartoon,feauturing Yosemite Sam,directed by Friz Freleng.

Circus big top pitches up at the Reebok


Thursday 23rd February 2012

FOR more than 60 years, The Netherlands National Circus has travelled around Europe, wowing audiences with daredevil stunts, amazing skills and impressive acts.
This week, the circus has been entertaining Bolton people, after pitching the Big Top at the Reebok Stadium.
From its beginning in Holland, in 1948, the circus has attracted stars from all over the world, and today’s show includes performances from a Romanian springboard troupe, a Portuguese clown, the Spanish Jackson family, an Australian This year, for the first time, the circus — which does not use animal performers — will remain in the UK, with a new show that organisers claim is one of the best yet. During the two-hour performance, clown Angelo Chavez keeps the crowd entertained, while 25 performers demonstrate juggling, the trapeze, acrobatics, magic, the springboard and other complex skills.
Most acts have grown up in the circus, learning their skills from a very young age. There are eight children in the circus, who attend a flexible web-based school via video link, which is tailored around performance times and travelling.
Desiree Chavez performs a handbalancing act that she started to learn when she was just a toddler.
The 17-year-old said the easiest way to learn circus skills is to start as a child, otherwise it takes dedication and hours of practice.
She said: “The best part is when the crowds are here and they are all cheering.
“I love being in the circus and travelling to new places and meeting new people.”After performing in Scarborough for a week, the circus came to Bolton for 12 performances, and on Sunday it will travel to Leeds.For tickets and information visit

Animal rights protests planned as tigers star at circus in Louth


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A CIRCUS show featuring tigers, camels and horses is starting in Louth this week.
The long-established Great British Circus is undergoing its final rehearsals ready for the performances which start tomorrow and run until Sunday, March 4..Animal rights campaigners have protested about the circus but ringmaster Barbara Howes spoke to the Target to defend the circus's use of animals in its performances.
She said: "Basically our show is an interpretation of what they naturally do.
"Tigers jump from tree stumps, roll over and lay down and we teach them to do these things on command. You can not force an animal to do something – all we hold are two small garden canes as an extension to our arms.
"We are all animal lovers and we like animals to have their own spirit and characters. When we train a new animal it is always starting them off slow – they are never thrown in at the deep end."
None of the animals are from the wild with the tigers being the eighth generation bred by Martin Lacey, the company owner and circus director.
Mrs Howes added: "We have strict rules and regulations to stick to and receive visits from Defra.
"We do not agree with animal cruelty.
"The circus is a way of life for us. We receive a lot of positive feedback which often goes unreported. One person recently thanked us because if it was not for our circus, his children would not have had the opportunity to see these animals."
The circus also includes a trapeze artist and traditional clown.
This year the show has a new horse trainer, Katja Kossamayer, and will feature a black beauty theme.
The Captive Animals' Protection Society, which campaigns against the use of animals in circuses, has confirmed there will be peaceful protests outside the circus in Louth.
Boy bitten on hand by circus tiger


February 23, 2012

A BOY has been bitten on the hand by a Bengal tiger after clambering up on to its trailer as a circus was setting up.
The 12 year old had been out skateboarding with a couple of friends in the Hérault town of Nissan-lez-Ensérune when they spotted the Landri circus.
One wagon contained a lionness and two Bengal tigers and the boy clambered up on to it. The gendarmerie told Midi Libre that as he did so he "stupidly" grabbed one of the bars of the cage and was bitten by a tiger.
He got immediate help from the circus manager who was busy putting up barriers round the vehicles and then from pompiers who took him to hospital in nearby Béziers.
His hand was not badly injured, needing just a few stitches.
On Tuesday an 18 year old youth lost the tip of a finger after being bitten by a tiger at the Zavatta circus in Mandelieu-la-Napoule (Alpes-Maritimes). The youth had been drinking and climbed on to a barrier.
Circus Gatti readies to bring in the clowns, animals, more

By Dru Willis,


February 22, 2012

In the neighborhood of 3,000 people will venture to the Taylor County Expo Center to get their fill of animals, dare devils and clowns when Circus Gatti comes to town for its annual show.
"The Gatti Circus has been with us many, many, many years, and they put on a good little circus," said Rochelle Johnson, the Expo Center's general manager.
The 49-year-old, three-ring circus was created by retired Maj. Matthew Gatti, a first generation Italian-American raised in a Catholic orphanage during the Great Depression and who joined the Army at age 16.
He became a commanding officer in the Air Force during World War II and was stationed throughout Europe after the war.
Gatti founded the American Continental Circus and the Canadian International Circus in 1963 after retiring and settling down in California with his wife and two daughters. The two circuses later would become Circus Gatti.
Today the circus has Asian elephants Tika and Patti (plus the retired Queenie), ponies, aerial feats and wonders, BMX freaks, hula hoops to rock n' roll, Laughing Leo the Clown, skilled dogs rescued from shelters and intelligent poodles, plus the Globe of Death, all with Ringmaster Brandon Bolden at the helm.
What I LIKE: UniverSoul CircUS 2012

Uploaded by universoulcircus on Feb 21, 2012

The most interactive CircUS in the world! Make us the most LIKED CircUS in the world! LIKE US!

Saving animals is legacy of Oldsmar Flea Market's circus veteran

[Courtesy of Gini Valbuena]

Gini Valbuena, with chimp Eli, befriended Manly “Sonny” Harris, who died in November

By Douglas R. Clifford, Times Staff Writer

Tampa Bay Times

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

OLDSMAR--Even by the standards of the Oldsmar Flea Market, Manly "Sonny" Harris' collection of old circus memorabilia was considered eclectic.
His booths at the market were stuffed with old clowns, wooden mannequins, carousel horses, pocket watches, gilded mirrors, chimpanzees playing the piano and a 5,000-piece model of a circus — items he had gathered during decades as an animal trainer and carny.
Sonny was also known as an animal lover at the market, where he lived in a trailer behind his flea market space. One of his regular visitors was Gini Valbuena, 66, of Clearwater, who met Sonny while strolling the market with a baby chimpanzee she was raising for a private zoo.
"The little chimp did not like men, but this one crawled out of the stroller and jumped into Sonny's lap," Valbuena said. "It crawled up and hugged his neck."
That hug started a 25-year friendship, which would end with Valbuena at Sonny's bedside at Hospice House Brookside, where he died in November. He was 87.
Now, Valbuena is in charge of an effort at the flea market to memorialize more:

Thunder in the night: horse theft turns into a circus ... on a ute


Amy McNeilage

February 22, 2012

Thunder the circus pony may not be very experienced - he's not had his first performance in the ring - but he's mysteriously in demand.
In the dead of night, at 1am today, the manager of Webers Circus was woken to be told by neighbours they had had just seen a ute back up to their horse pen.
They had seen Thunder - who weighs more than 250 kilograms - tied up with karate belts and being dragged along behind the ute away from the Newcastle Showground.
It is not known how the three men got the miniature pony on to the vehicle because it disappeared around the corner.
"They must have realised they weren't going to get far like that and got him on top somehow," circus owner Natalie Weber said.
"He loves attention and loves people. He would have just gone right up to them."
Manager Julie Peterson said police were called immediately and found the ute parked behind a bowling club - with the horse hidden under a tarpaulin.
Thunder was returned to the circus unhurt.
"We would have been devastated if we didn't get him back," said Mrs Peterson. "All our animals are a part of the family."
Thunder has been with the family business for three years and was still training to enter the arena.
Mrs Peterson is "dumbfounded" as to why anyone would want to rustle the horse - a practice known as duffing.
Thunder had been in a night pen with five other horses and two donkeys.
"They seemed to pick out one particular horse," she said.
"I have no idea why. It's so crazy."
She thinks those responsible must have been watching the circus, which has been performing at the showground for two weeks.
She said it wouldn't have been an easy task to lift the pony into the ute.
"He's a beautiful horse but he's not light," she said. "He's got a belly on him."
Circus clowns deliver fun to Hernando Public Library

February 21, 2012 - Three year old Malik Fitzgerald screams with laughter as he assists the Ambassadors of Laughter, Cherie and Dave (Gregg), with part of their Reading with Ringling program at the Hernando library. Cherie and Dave are visiting the area this week to help residents prepare for the upcoming performances of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Barnum Bash, coming to Landers Center in Southaven Thursday, March 22 thru Sunday, March 25. (Stan Carroll/The Commercial Appeal)

By Henry Bailey Memphis Commercial Appeal

February 22, 2012

For a special hour, the story-time section at the Hernando Public Library was transformed into a three-ring uproar for kids of all ages -- even the librarians.
"They're funny!' said 5-year-old Lance Curley, asked to analyze Tuesday's antics of circus clowns Gary and Cherie Gregg.
Lance, a fan of Indiana Jones books, had little else to say, a smile and wide eyes doing all the rest: "He's just mesmerized," said his grandmother, Kathy Curley of Hernando. The fun was frantic -- and maybe genetic too.
"I took his daddy to the circus when he was 3, so Lance loves it too," she said.
Reading and performing to Dr. Seuss' "If I Ran the Circus," the clown couple from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus brought some 200 children and adults along for the ride as young Morris McGurk's imagination transformed the lot "behind Sneelock's Store" into mighty "Circus McGurkus."
Gary read about the Drum-Tummied Snumm who uses his tummy for a drum, a Wily Walloo who can throw his tail as a "lassoo" and a Juggling Jott who juggles question marks and commas. Cherie helped bring things alive, and up to McGurkesque expectations: "Why, ladies and gentlemen, youngsters and oldsters, your heads will quite likely spin right off your shoulders!"
"Can you believe that after looking at just one book, we got to put on a special magic show?" asked Gary. "I had fun, didn't you?"
From the regular story-time kids, plus field-trippers from Head Start and HQ, KACO and DeSoto Developmental Center day cares, came a deafening "Yes!"
It's an answer that pleased Denise McOwen, youth specialist for the First Regional Library system.
"A lot kids don't get to come to read because their parents work during the day," McOwen said. "But if more day cares come, the kids can learn the library can be fun, a great place to learn. And with field trips so costly, we're the best bargain in town."
Even if not the "Greatest Show on Earth." The clowns' free romp was a preview to the "Barnum Bash" coming March 22-25 to the Landers Center in Southaven.
Gary said he and Cherie love linking books with their buffoonery.
"I read 'If I Ran the Circus' when I was a kid," he said.
In fact, he added, there's a Reading With Ringling program, a partnership between the circus and libraries to encourage children ages 2-12 to read.
"I want the next ride!" Gary said as he and Cherie posed at a tandem stroller for photos with 16-month-old twins Emma and Ella, daughters of Jennifer Higdon. The Higdons just moved to the area from North Carolina.
Higdon, an MBA-degree professional who's a full-time mom for now, said: "We're loving it here. And this library is awesome."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mardi Gras Floats: Big Business in New Orleans

Published on Feb 20, 2012 by AssociatedPress

As Mardi Gras 2012 reaches its pinnacle Fat Tuesday, the float making business remains in full gear ahead all year long. Mardi Gras World builds the big floats. Its studio also offer tours 12 months a year, seven days a week.(Feb. 20)
Weird Fried Foods and more at the Florida State Fair 2012

Uploaded by AttractionsMagazine on Feb 19, 2012
It seems the vendors at the Florida State Fair can fry anything - and they have. Plus some other highlights from the 2012 fair including lawnmower racing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Despite circus ties, Sarasota blew its chance with Ringling Bros.


Robarts Arena sits on the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. A pair of efforts since 2005 by the Fair Board and county officials to bring the Greatest Show on Earth back to its former home fizzled.

By Doug Sword

from: Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Friday, February 17, 2012
A sour relationship between Sarasota County officials, particularly former Administrator Jim Ley, and the community's Fair Board ultimately doomed Sarasota's chances of physically reclaiming its circus heritage.
From Ca d'Zan and Clown College to Ringling Boulevard and the circus train, it was Sarasota County and not Manatee County that had the strongest ties to Feld Entertainment, owners of the Ringling Bros. franchise.
But a pair of efforts since 2005 by the Fair Board and county officials to bring the Greatest Show on Earth back to its former home fizzled.
Meanwhile, Manatee officials were crowing last month when they lured both Feld's production headquarters and eventually its corporate offices along with the prospect of hundreds of new jobs to a former industrial site in Ellenton.
The loss for Sarasota County was in no small part the result of poor relations between the board and county officials.
When plans in 2008 for a sweeping overhaul of the county fairgrounds that would have included a home for Feld were more or less replaced by a quickly drawn plan to put a spring training site for the Boston Red Sox there, talks between the county and Fair Board broke down.
County Commissioner Joe Barbetta knew it was over when he overheard a Fair Board member say, "We'll put cows on this property before we let the county develop it."
The third — and likely final — strike came just two weeks ago when Feld said it would be employing at least 383 people in Ellenton.
The poignancy of the loss remains striking to those who were involved in the 2008 effort that involved the Red more at:
Johnstown will welcome circus to town May 13


From: ThisWeek Community Newspapers

Friday February 17, 2012
Johnstown Village, Ohio Council member Chris Speck confirmed for The Independent Feb. 16 that the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus will perform for Johnstown May 13, with shows at 2:30 and 4 p.m.
“I’m pretty excited about all this,” he said. “It’s been a long time since the circus has been in town, if ever.”
He said tickets will go on sale about a month prior to the show and will be available at most Johnstown businesses. They will cost $6 for children, $9 for adults and he believes that children under 2 will be admitted for free.
There will be a tent-raising at 10 a.m. the day of the show.
Downtown Johnstown Inc., is sponsoring the event, Speck said.
“They came to us,” he said. Speck said the Hugo, Okla.-based circus contacted Downtown Johnstown, looking for an organization to bring it to town. A Culpepper & Merriweather spokesperson said the circus will send an “advance clown” to Johnstown a week or two ahead of May 13 just to make sure everyone remembers the circus is coming.
According to the Culpepper & Merriweather website, the circus features all sorts of animal acts and performers, including performing camels, a high wire act, a dog and pony revue, several trapeze and unicycle performers, and, of course, clowns.
The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus had very humble beginnings, the website relates.
In 1985, Robert Johnson, Jim Hebert and Curtis Cainan started a small show. The three alternated announcing, performing and selling concessions during each performance for the first year. They didn’t sell tickets, instead relying on donations received from passing a hat.
Oblivious to everyone in the business who told them they could never succeed, they were able to gradually add employees, equipment and animals over the years, the site states.
The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus was based in Queen Creek, Ariz., until 2001, when new ownership moved its base of operations to Hugo, deep in the Red River Valley. Hugo is known as "Circus City, USA” for a good reason. The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus is the 20th circus to call Hugo home since 1941, and the fourth active circus currently operating from the seat of Choctaw County.
Speck pointed out that Downtown Johnstown Inc., with more than 50 members, offers other entertainment to Johnstown as well. The organization sponsors the fourth annual Cupola Classic Cruise-in Sept. 9, which Speck anticipates to feature roughly 200 cars. The organization also sponsors the “Third Saturday” concert series, a farmers market, an outdoor ice skating rink, and a Labor Day flea market, among other activities.
“We’re the group to get it done, to make Johnstown all that it can be,” Speck said. “We’re always looking for more events, as well.”
He added that Downtown Johnstown is also looking for new members and ideas for activities. The group meets the first Tuesday of each month.
“It’s a good time,” he said.
Speck said Downtown Johnstown’s goal is make the village a destination point.
“You don’t have to go into Columbus to have a good time,” he said.
A most engaging ringmaster brings Ringling Bros. circus to Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center

Longtime ringmaster for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Johnathan Lee Iverson brings the circus to the Wells Fargo Center from Feb. 22 to Feb. 27. Photos courtesy of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

By Jarreau FreemanCorrespondent


Saturday, February 18, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - Elaborately dressed in a green sequenced top hat and a multi colored tuxedo, the ringmaster enters the center ring. With a commanding presence and boisterous voice he begins the prelude to the show.
“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages, get ready for ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.’”
The crowd erupts into a roar and Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s “Dragon” begins.
Johnathan Lee Iverson, the first African American ringmaster with Ringling Bros., who was also named one of the 10 most fascinating people by Barbara Walters in 1999, has presided over the Ringling Bros. festivities for more than 20 years. His role as the show’s ringmaster is one Iverson takes great pride in; he views his profession as more than just a job, but a more:
Circus Vargas comes to San Diego, just minutes from Coronado!

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, the circus has come to town!

The cast of this year's show during the opening number.


Posted by Anne Covington

February 18, 2012

Tonight was opening night for Circus Vargas, an intimate one-ring show, that will be playing under their bright blue big top tent in Balboa Park for the next ten days. You can spot the iconic circus tent right off the 5 freeway, right before the ramp for the SR 163 through Balboa Park. You may recognize the sight from the recent film, “Water for Elephants”, where the show was featured as the modern day circus at the beginning and end of the motion picture. Circus Vargas will be in the San Diego area through March 26th, and will hold additional performances in El Cajon, Mira Mesa, and Vista.

Circus Vargas in Balboa Park

This year’s 2-hour show features singing ringmaster Kevin Venardos as the master of ceremonies, comedian and daredevil Jon Weiss, the Tabares family performing on the flying trapeze, the Garcia Family on motorcycles in the Globe of Death, the Zinduna Brothers and their feats of agility and strength, and many other talented performers including a hula-hoop artist and juggler. Not in the show tonight, but coming soon, will be a tightrope act and trampoline act. Circus Vargas has been providing family entertainment since 1969, and is now owned and operated by Nelson and Katya Quiroga of Tabares Entertainment, Inc. The new 2012 production is completely animal free, and is held beneath a beautiful, hand-made circus tent from Milan, Italy that comfortably seats 1,500 spectators.

Matti Esqueda surprises an audience member during this evening's performance.
Be sure to arrive early to your performance of choice, and experience the half-hour preview show that is hosted by talented performers Jon and Laura Weiss. During this time, children of all ages can step into the circus ring and learn how to hula-hoop, juggle scarves, and balance feathers. Dance music keeps everyone bopping and the party spirit is infectious, even for those in the audience observing from afar. This is also a perfect time for photos of your family as they experience a crash course in circus skills!

Jon and Laura Weiss lead the pre-show entertainment with children and adults from the audience.

Jon Weiss dazzles the audience with his balancing act.

The Garcia Family performing the Globe of Death, with their 10 year old son, Maximus looking on

Boom Town: Cirque Mechanics' cutting edge circus coming

By Donna B. Stinnett

Evansville Courier & Press

Posted February 17, 2012

When Cirque Mechanics brought its "Birdhouse Factory" show to Henderson Fine Arts Center two years ago, the audience noticed right away that this wasn't your typical stage show.
It involved contraptions, aerial apparatuses and a whole troupe of contortion artists, acrobats, clowns and mimes inhabiting an unconventional industrial setting.
This time, when Cirque Mechanics brings "Boom Town" to town for the final show of the Henderson Area Arts Alliance's performance season, the rules are the same but the setting has changed.
The audience will see acrobats climbing up swaying telegraph poles, dancing on a swinging chandelier, flying high and fast on a revolving crane, flipping and jumping on moving ore carts and balancing on whiskey jugs.
"With Boom Town we have all the cutting edge circus of 'Birdhouse Factory,' but this time our story is told in a mining town in the 1880s," said Chris Lashua, creative director for the Las Vegas-based troupe made up of former members of other well-known circus companies including Cirque du more:

Stuart-based carnival company booked its first event at Martin County Fair in 1965

By Isadora Rangel


February 17, 2012

When Allen Deggeller started his carnival company in 1965, the first event he booked was the Martin County Fair. It took him three years to make Deggeller Attractions one of the largest in the carnival industry.
The Stuart-based company today operates at some of the largest state fairs along the East Coast, but every year it comes back to the Martin County Fair, which ends Saturday.
"Even though it isn't the largest fair, we continue to do it because of our community involvement," said Don Deggeller, Allen Deggeller's son and company president since 1979 — the father died in 1989. "We pretty much do this fair because we live in this community and we are very proud of it."
Deggeller started the company with his brother, Irvin, when he moved to Stuart from Indiana, where he worked as an independent operator for other companies. He owned two rides, including an old Rollo Plane, and purchased 20 rides from an Ohio company before the brothers opened their business.
They had an aggressive business strategy, Don Deggeller said. While most starting midway companies refrained from big fairs such as the one in Miami-Dade County, they booked those and soon they began to grow.
Today, Deggeller Attractions owns about 75 rides that are stored in properties in Stuart and Palm City. The company continues to do large fairs, but over the years, new theme parks and other entertainment venues have created competition for the company. On the Treasure Coast, it has to compete for customers with the St. Lucie and Indian River county fairs.
Carnival companies have to keep innovating and bring bigger, newer rides to compete and stay in business. Deggeller Attractions recently purchased a roller coaster for $1.3 million, Don Deggeller said. New to the Martin County Fair this year were rides Rock 'n' Out and the Crazy Bus.
"Years ago, we didn't have to buy these multimillion-dollar rides," Don Deggeller said.
The growth of carnival companies like Deggeller has affected business for independent vendors who have to compete with new attractions for fairgoers' dollars, concession stand owners at Martin County Fair said. Most concession stands are family-owned and at times have to compete with food booths provided by these companies as well.
"There are more things for the public to spend money besides food. There is more entertainment available today," said Leonard Goetz, who has had an ice cream stand at Martin County Fair since 1975.
Deggeller Attractions revenues can fluctuate between $100,000 to $1 million each year, Don Deggeller said. Weather is the main factor in determining how many people attend state and county fairs and the company's profit. He also said companies need to catch up on technology to stay profitable and invest in new safety devices. He expects rides that won't require a human operator to be one of the next industry innovations.
But regardless of where the industry goes, he thinks carnivals will be around for a long time.
"Technology will change, but people still want entertainment," Don Deggeller said.
58th Zor Shrine Circus Brings Back Elephants, Abuse Controversy

Animal activists say circus elephants are abused and handed out leaflets in Madison showing how to find the signs.

from: MadisonFeb 18, 2012

Reporter: Phil Levi
The Circus Is in Town...

and So Are the Protesters Animal-rights activists will rally at the County Center this weekend to protest the Royal Hanneford Circus's treatment of animals.

Nellie Hanneford with elephant. Credit Royal Hanneford Circus media

By Joey Keating


February 19, 2011

The Royal Hanneford Circus transforms the Westchester County Center this weekend into a spectacular stage, showcasing tightrope walkers, trapeze artists, acrobats and animal acts. It's that last part that has animal-rights activists up in arms.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has organized a protest outside the County Center prior to Saturday’s afternoon performance to draw attention to what the group says is cruel and inhumane treatment of circus animals.
"Bears, elephants, tigers, and other animals used in circuses do not voluntarily ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire," says PETA's website.
The group says that circus animals are forced to learn these tricks with whips, bullhooks, electric prods and other punishments. When the animals aren't performing, they are often kept shackled or in tiny cages, says PETA.
The Hanneford Circus is a frequent target of animal-rights groups. Protesters rallied at the County Center 2008, 2005 and 2004 when the circus came to town.
The Hanneford Circus has defended its treatment of animals, saying they are well cared for and their training is based on "reinforcement in the form of food rewards and words of praise."
The animal-rights activists organized the call to action via Facebook. Local activists from PETA, Animal Defenders of Westchester and other groups plan to educate the incoming crowd about animal mistreatment throughout the history of circuses.
Tickets and Other Information
Show times are Saturday, Sunday and Monday at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Check the web for pre-show information and events.
All seats are reserved with premium seats at $28.50 and regular seats at $22.50. Children over 2 require a ticket, and under 2 are admitted free if they sit on a lap. Groups that are interested in attending should contact Zanzarella Marketing at 914-945-0480. For groups of over 20 people the ticket price is reduced by $3.50.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster (a service fee is added) or at the County Center Box Office (no service fee applies).
Pasco County Fair offers more fun than you can bear


Trainer Dexter Osborn and 7-year-old Tonk, a 600-pound grizzly bear, will perform three shows a day at the Pasco County Fair.By LAURA KINSLER The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 19, 2012

DADE CITY -- A trio of grizzly bears and supercross legend Chad Reed highlight the new additions this year to the 65th Annual Pasco County Fair.
Lake Jovita resident Chad Reed will trade his motocross bike in for the back of a convertible to serve as grand marshal for the "Ridin' Rockin' & Livestockin' " parade, which kicks off the fair activities Monday at 1 p.m. in downtown Dade City. Then Reed will head over to the fairgrounds to take part in the annual celebrity milk-off in the livestock pavilion.
Naples-based bear trainer Dexter Osborn debuts his show "A Grizzly Experience" at 5:30 p.m. and performs three shows nightly.
Visitors will get an up-close look at Tonk, a 600-pound grizzly bear, and cubs Yogi and Booboo. The 7-year-old Tonk stands over 7-feet tall, but he's still growing, Osborn said. He eats about 25 pounds of food every day. His favorite treat is Florida grouper. "He's got another 300 or 400 pounds to go before he's fully grown," Osborn said.
All three bears were born in captivity.
"They're all three brothers," Osborn said. "We'll demonstrate some natural bear behaviors with Tonk. Yogi and Booboo mostly play and keep each other entertained."

Fair favorites Robinson's Racing Pigs and Paddlin Porkers make a return engagement with multiple shows daily. Other entertainers include a roaming circus, jugglers, magicians and hypnotists.
Visitors will notice several new food vendors and other changes around the fairgrounds and inside the Dan Cannon Auditorium, which is decorated with posters and 14-foot tall potted magnolia trees.
"This is a totally different setup," organizer Cathlee Tomkow said.
The Pasco County Fair Championship Rodeo takes place Friday and Saturday. The annual Demolition Derby closes out the fair Sunday.
Today is the last day to buy discounted wristbands at area Walgreens stores. The wristbands allow unlimited rides for $15 Monday through Thursday or for $19 through the weekend. Gate admission is not included.

"The Lone Ranger! "Hi Yo Silver!"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi Yo Silver!" The Lone Ranger. "Hi Yo Silver, away!" With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, led the fight for law and order in the early west. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again!

The Lone Ranger
Feb 19, 2012.
The Lone Ranger C.F. Eckhardt
Posted: Sunday, February 19,
Jack Carlton Moore, who adopted the stage-name "Clayton Moore" at the suggestion of his agent, was born in Chicago in 1914. By the time he was eight years old he was a circus acrobat. By 1934 he had become a trapeze artist - a "flyer" in circus terms - and appeared at the Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago. He was also a John Robert Powers model. He went to Hollywood in the late 1930s and adopted his stage name in 1940.

He was married four times, the first two marriages ending in divorce after only three years each. His third marriage, to Sally Allen, lasted forty-three years and ended in her death in 1986. They adopted a daughter. He remarried in 1992, that marriage ending in his death in 1999. He was asked by a young woman, during a personal appearance tour in Britain, if he was married. He replied "Ma'am, I am the (dramatic pause) LONE Ranger!"

Moore was not a big star until he became "King of the Serials" in the 1940s. He made four serials for Republic and two for Columbia. During World War II he served in the Air Force's First Motion Picture Unit, making training films.

In 1949 George W. Trendle, producer of the "Lone Ranger" radio program, was intent on bringing the character to television. He saw Moore in "The Ghost of Zorro," a serial, and offered him the part of the Lone Ranger on television. Brace Beemer, radio's Lone Ranger, had a very distinctive voice. Moore did his best to duplicate Beemer's voice as the television character.

Moore played the part from 1949 through 1951, making 52 episodes a year, a total of 156 episodes, then quit in a contract dispute. During 1952 and 1953 Jon Hall, "Daktari" from television, took over the part, but he was less than successful. Trendle and Moore came to contract terms in 1954 and Moore played the role until the series ended in 1957, appearing in 169 more episodes for a total of 325 episodes. He also played the Lone Ranger in three feature films, "The Lone Ranger Rides Again," "The Lone Ranger," and "The Lone Ranger and "The Lost City of Gold." After the series ended he continued to make personal appearances as the character.

During one of those personal appearances there was an armed robbery at the shopping mall where Moore was appearing. The Lone Ranger swung into action! Mounting Silver, he raced across the parking lot, reached down from the saddle, grabbed the driver of the getaway car by the shirt, jerked him out of the car, and fell on top of him, shoving one of his famous pistols into the man's face.

You have to wonder what kind of reaction the felon got in jail when he was asked "Who caught you?" and he had to say "The Lone Ranger."

In 1979 Jack Wrather, who by then owned the Lone Ranger franchise, got a court order to prevent Moore from making personal appearances as the character. Wrather was planning a new Lone Ranger movie and didn't want Moore to distract from it. The result was a public-relations disaster for Wrather. While the order was in effect Moore continued to wear the costume at personal appearances, but substituted wrap-around sunglasses for the mask. He counter-sued Wrather and won the suit, continuing to appear as the Lone Ranger almost until his death in 1999.

Wrather's film, "The Legend of the Lone Ranger," starring an unknown actor named Quinton Spilsbury - who apparently never appeared in another movie - was a miserable flop. Spilsbury was last reported working as a "hot-pants" waiter in a San Francisco bar that catered primarily to homosexuals. In the 1990s someone was reported in the Hollywood press as planning another Lone Ranger movie in which Tonto would be a beautiful Indian girl, but it apparently never got made. As Bob Boze Bell, publisher of True West magazine, asked, "What are those people smokin'?"

Moore was so thoroughly identified with the character that his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame reads "Clayton Moore - The Lone Ranger." He was inducted into the Western Performers' Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Moore's autobiography is entitled, "I Was That Masked Man."