For 129 years, Cole Bros. has been entertaining folks with its classic-style circus. Above: German, from Argentina’s Fassio Family, takes a stand.
BY JESSE SCOTT FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
August 31, 2013
As the circus has evolved over the decades, one historical component has slowly started to disappear: the big top. With so many mega-circuses opting for large, indoor arenas or no tent at all, the colorful circus tent is slowly becoming a relic of yesteryear.
In an ever-changing world, the Cole Bros.’ circus is sticking to tradition, choosing to keep its iconic show under one roof.
Cole Bros. will bring its “Circus of the Stars” to Fredericksburg next week for four exclusive performances. The circus will be in action on Tuesday and Wednesday with performances daily at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
“We are the world’s largest circus under the big top,” said Chris Connors, ringmaster of the Cole Bros. circus. “We are the last of the big-tent shows and have been going strong for years. There is no better way or place to see the circus.”
This year marks the 129th that Cole Bros. has been in business. And just because the circus is getting up there in age doesn’t mean that it’s stopped pushing the entertainment envelope. The Fredericksburg circus will feature the likes of a high-wire troupe from Colombia, the “moto-globe of death,” white tigers and a family from Argentina who has performing Saint Bernards, Afghans and a Chihuahua.
To say the least, the experience has quite the international flair.
“It is a massive-looking production,” said Connors. “We have 40 performers in this year’s show, with many nationalities and personalities. The smell of the popcorn, the elephant rides ... it’s something every child and everyone needs to experience.”
Also joining the action this year is the circus’ newest four-legged friend, Baby Hugo.
“We have a baby elephant, Baby Hugo, who is the youngest in any circus,” said Connors.
“He performs with his best friend, and it’s amazing to see the animals react and work with one another.”
Behind the captivating magic, high-wire acts and clown costumes are some pretty incredible stories.
Kellan Bermudez has climbed the circus ranks to become the production’s head clown.
A native of Ecuador, Bermudez’s family has circus roots that trace back nearly half a century. In addition to being the circus’ comedic glue, Bermudez also has one of the most daredevil roles in the industry, the Human Cannonball.
“At first, it was a little scary being shot out of a cannon,” laughed Bermudez. “But when you’re being shot 95 feet, going 65 miles per hour and you can see all of the smiles in the audience—it’s a lot of fun.”
Connors, a native of Newburgh, N.Y., also started out in the industry as a clown. Today, he is one of the most respected ringmasters in the business, and has held the title of ringmaster for 12 years.
“The secret to success in the circus is to know and appreciate that you’re doing something special,” said Connors. “I’ve pumped gas, flipped hamburgers and now I’m doing what I love ... bringing happiness to families across the country.”