2014 Convention



Saturday, July 20, 2013


Billy Vaughn
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July 20, 2013

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Saw The Big Apple Circus last night, a GREAT show!!! Even GREATER was a nice visit with old friends Jennifer Vidbel and John Kennedy Kane!!!!
Reunited and it felt so right! — with Jennifer Vidbel.


FAMILY CIRCUS: After 25 years, Ringmaster Dave Salutos is still guiding circus audiences through wonder and amazement

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Dave Salutos
July 20, 2013
Behind the tall maroon curtain Dave Salutos joked backstage with two performers after a morning in the sweltering heat.
He had shed his heavy red coat, having spent the last hour entertaining a crowd at Circus World, a place where a smile rarely leaves his face.
Only a few minutes before, he was standing in a line with everyone else in the Big Top Show, greeting wide-eyed children and parents who came to see something spectacular.
Between shows, Salutos grabs some air conditioning before his next act at the Wheel of Destiny. There are no days off this time of year, not for the person who has put this show together.
Salutos is the veteran who has walked these grounds for 31 years — a quarter century as ringmaster.
“I came on the scene when the museum was getting going,” he said. “Spent all my growing up years, my grade school years, down here. All my birthday parties were here.”
He sold cotton candy and snow cones for his first job, but he always noticed the man in the red coat who seemed to be the glue that brought everything together. A guide for the day.
“I thought, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be great to be the ringmaster?’” he said.
Five years later, he was.
Next Saturday, when Baraboo’s first Big Top Parade takes to the Square in a new event, Salutos will be leading the charge like a drum major in a band.
“I always thought the circus was bigger than life. Much bigger than life,” he said. “Very splashy, very colorful and very exciting, always.”
With a row of red coats and white shirts lining a wall in his dressing room, Salutos was getting ready to go back to work.
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, the show’s about to begin.
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Circus Smirkus for the whole family
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By Geoff Rdgers-Globe Staff
July 19, 2013
WHO: Globe arts reporter Geoff Edgers, his wife, Carlene, daughter, Lila, 11, and son, Cal, 3
 WHAT: Circus Smirkus at Wachusett Mountain
 WHERE: Princeton
 It was in the lower 90s and we were eager to find something to break up the daily routine of visits to the swimming hole and a lethargic viewing of “Toy Story 2.” That’s when our friend Kristin suggested something I could immediate sign on for. Circus Smirkus was coming to town (and it’s in Waltham this weekend, then Kennebunkport, Maine, then Newbury).
Smirkus, for the uninitiated, is the anti-Ringling Bros. In fact, it’s even lower-key than the “Big Apple Circus,” being smaller and featuring no animal acts. What’s more, Smirkus gives your kids the distinct idea that they can, indeed, run away with the circus. (As opposed to stowing away in a carny van.) Performers are 10 to 18 years old. Some are trained at the summer camp. Others have picked up their skills elsewhere. You’ve got to audition to become part of the show. It’s not merely about paying your camp tuition.

For a parent, Smirkus offers added incentives. Tickets range from $16 to $25 and concessions, the silent wallet killer, are reasonable and limited to hot dogs, lemonade, cotton candy, popcorn, and a few other items. There are circus knick-knacks for sale, but the sell is as soft as a spongy clown nose.

And the performers? They’re kids, sure, but they’re good. They can juggle, walk the wire, ride the unicycles, and what they might lack in seasoning, they make up for with genuine enthusiasm. There’s lots of clapping, lots of energy, and a driving score played by what appeared to be a two-man band.

Which is not to say it totally captured Cal’s attention. He dug the first half of the show chomping on his cotton candy, but he got antsy after intermission. This is perhaps where the little dogs in the “Big Apple Circus” would have come in handy. Lila, though, was into the show with its “Wizard of Oz” theme. She wasn’t about to get out of her seat.

I took Cal outside where we picked up a popcorn and sat in the field where Smirkus had pitched its tent. We talked about going in, but Cal seemed more into the flood of performers — the lion, Dorothy, the tin man — who ran around the tent as they wanted to reenter the show.

And while I wouldn’t have minded catching more of the performance, I’ve got to admit, I enjoyed sitting outside, eating salty popcorn, and talking to my son.


Unusual Attractions at Delaware State Fair
"Travels with Charlie"


Kelly Miller Circus workers entertain visitors as they prepare for Conneaut show

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 KELLY MILLER Circus workers secure the Big Top on Thursday at Lakeview Park in Conneaut.
July 19, 2013
CONNEAUT — The Big Top went up Thursday.
 Even before that time, dozens of people assembled in the morning at Lakeview Park in Conneaut to watch the Kelly Miller Circus come to town.
 Sandra Baldwin of Conneaut was at the park with her 3-year-old granddaughter, Haylee Baldwin. “We wanted to watch them raise the Big Top,” she said.
 Some of the spectators were disappointed that machines, not elephants, were used to set up the Big Top as billed.
 Rebecca Ostroff, a tour guide and aerialist for the circus, said elephants weren’t used because of legal questions.
 Nancy Guthrie, pastoral assistant at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Conneaut — the circus’ sponsor — cited an erroneous email regarding the use of elephants. The Conneaut Police Department is investigating, she said.
 In advance of the circus’ arrival, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced they had advised City Manager Tim Eggleston and Police Chief Charles Burlingham to be on the lookout for the use of bullhooks by handlers to control elephants, a device outlawed in Ohio. Burlingham said he would investigate any complaints. None had arrived by early Thursday afternoon, he said.
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Delaware State Fair: From fries to fried Twinkies, you can find it all at Harrington

Little Richard's food truck serves up a Krispy Kreme bacon burger.
Written by James Fisher | The News Journal
Jul. 19, 2013
HARRINGTON — You could try to dine lightly at the Delaware State Fair, sticking to lemonade, a small soft serve cone. Maybe sneak a few french fries from a buddy.
Or you could indulge and scarf down a doughnut-bunned cheeseburger with chili fries, then pop six fried Oreos for dessert.
John Vogel, of Ocean View, was willing to at least try the doughnut burger – a beef patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and two glazed Krispy Kremes where the buns ought to be.
“It’s interesting. It’s sweet,” Vogel said after one bite of the odd sandwich, which cost $8. “I’ll take another bite to check.”
His 9-year-old daughter, Katie, was far less enthralled, taking a nibble only after the bacon was extracted. Her verdict? “I wouldn’t have that again.”
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Katie Vogel, 9, of Ocean View, is a bit leery about taking part in a News Journal taste test featuring a Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburger at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington on Friday. / GARY EMEIGH/The News Journal
That’s the state fair for you: a chance to eat food in combinations you won’t need to digest again for another 364 days. Dave Higman, owner-manager of Little Richard’s food truck, which served Vogel’s doughnut burger, said his biggest sellers are staples of any diner, like sausage sandwiches and cheesesteaks. But, he said, odder choices like fried turkey legs and doughnut burgers also are hits.
“We plan on running full steam every day unless it’s gonna rain,” Higman said of his food truck, which has countertops on two sides and can fit up to eight employees. There was just one hitch on this sweltering Friday afternoon: no air conditioning.
“It’s about 20 degrees warmer in here than it is outside,” Higman said. “My son-in-law’s up in Dover right now getting a part for it.”
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Fired circus employee accused of stealing fox
July 19, 2013
CHITA, Russia, July 19 (UPI) -- Police in Russia said they were searching for a fired circus worker accused of absconding with a fox in retaliation for his termination.

Zabaikalsky Region authorities said Gennady Pyatibratov, 24, allegedly stole Eva the fox from a circus in late June in retaliation for his being fired, RIA Novosti reported Friday.

Pyatibratov was fired from his position as a traveling circus assistant for neglecting his duties, officials said.

The fox was initially thought to have escaped until a woman in the city of Chita told investigators she had seen Pyatibratov walking with a fox on a leash.

Prosecutors said Pyatibratov could face theft charges.
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Vendors Offer Relief From the Heat at County Fairs
By Claire DeRoin
Jul 19, 2013

The Dakota Thurston County Fair is in full swing, but so are the high summer temperatures. Temperatures have been soaring into the 90's, but that didn't stop folks from stopping by the fair to enjoy themselves. Fairgoers did need a little help staying cool, and help came from folks like Craig Swansen of Yankton, South Dakota. He's the owner of Craig's Shave Ice, and he knows his stuff.
"I've been doing this since I was 12 years old," he said between making snow cones. "My parents helped me get started. I've been doing it ever since. I couldn't imagine not doing this in the summertime."
For the past 18 years, Craig has helped people cool off at county fairs.
"Shave ice: it's a little bit different. Not anyone can get that just anywhere. You know, who doesn't like ice with sugar water on it?" Craig laughed.
Craig says in his years of working at fairs, the menu has stayed the same. After all, if it's not broken, why fix it?
On particularly hot days, vendors don't sell that much hot food, but the cold drinks and treats are a hit.
"Snow cones and ice cream are big movers," said Steve Mrsny, owner of Heartland Concessions.
For the lucky folks inside the vendor stands, staying cool doesn't take much effort.
Neil Junkin explained, "Our trailer is air conditioned, and when you work around a lot of ice products, you stay nice and cool."
A lot of fairgoers said they'd still get their favorite cool treats even if the temperatures weren't so extreme. After all, a snow cone at a fair is a must.


County fairs offer down-on-the-farm fun this summer

Sharon Gekoski/Courier-Post
Sherri Rawquepaw enjoys a quiet moment with a new friend. July 18, 1980.

Written by Sheri Berkery,Courier-Post
Jul. 19, 2013
It’s county fair season in South Jersey, when suburban routine gives way to pig races and horse shows.
The Burlington County Farm Fair continues through Saturday at its new location in Springfield. The highlights include a children’s tractor pull, carnival rides, a milking contest, arts and crafts, an antique farm equipment display and a 4-H dog show.
The Burlington County fair is a long tradition in South Jersey; click through our photo gallery above for historic images of the event and find more recent photos HERE
Fair hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. The fairgrounds are at Route 206 South and Jacksonville-Jobstown Road in Springfield, ¼ mile south of the Columbus Farmers Market. Parking is $10 per day. For more, go to
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The Gloucester County 4-H Fair and NJ Peach Festival will be up next, running July 25 to 28 at the Route 77 Fairgrounds in Mullica Hill.
The 45th fair showcases the talents of the local 4-H club, along with carnival rides, animal shows, live music, K-9 demonstrations, a baby parade, racing pigs and a craft fair. Then there’s the peach portion of the event, including the crowning of the New Jersey Peach Queen, treats for sale and barbecue dinners.
Fair hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 25, to Saturday, July 27, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 28. The fairgrounds are on Route 77 South (275 Bridgeton Pike) in Mullica Hill. Parking donation is $10, which covers all four days. For more, go to


Up in the air: D.C. resident spends her 20s touring the world on a trapeze

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Michels-Gualtieri decided to take a year off between high school and college. Her reason? She wanted to attend a circus school for a year, tops. But that year turned into a career. (Courtesy Kaely Michels-Gualtieri)
from:  WTOP.COM
by Rachel Nania
WASHINGTON - Taking one year off between high school and college was all that Kaely Michels-Gualtieri planned on.

After graduating from The Field School in Northwest D.C., the Capitol Hill resident was accepted to Wellesley College to study engineering. However, instead of heading up to Massachusetts, Michels-Gualtieri followed a time-sensitive passion that took her halfway around the world -- and several feet in the air.

Since she could walk, Michels-Gualtieri was involved in gymnastics. She started with lessons at the YMCA Woodmont Center in Arlington, Va., before moving to the Arlington Aerials in Shirlington, Va. By the time Michels-Gualtieri reached high school, she was a competitive gymnast.

But a two-week period in February 2005 opened the eyes -- and the options -- of the sophomore student.
According to Michels-Gualtieri, the Field School shuts its doors for 10 days every February and forces its students to get a job or an internship.

"I told my mom I didn't want anything boring because I worked in a hospital and ended up photocopying for two weeks and it was awful," says Michels-Gualtieri, who is now 23.

As a joke, Michels-Gualtieri's mom suggested she join the circus to keep from being bored.

"And then we were like, ‘That's a brilliant idea,'" Michels-Gualtieri says.
The next thing she knew, she and her mom were calling up circus schools, but they didn't have any luck finding a circus school with an internship program. Her creative internship plan was side-tabled for a year, but during Michels- Gualtieri's junior year of high school, she spent her two weeks at a circus school in San Francisco.

Before this journey, Michels-Gualtieri spent the majority of her time competing on the ground. Being in the air was not only a new feeling -- it was something she had to get used to.
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Friday, July 19, 2013


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Just stopped by Lewis and Clark to visit some friends and ended up painting a trailer before I left and YES the animals were in the pen with me....Had a good day on a nice show.....
(from facebook)


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Aerialist Alexandra Nock performs tricks underneath the Aerosphere Aerial Balloon during a 2012 performance at Lotteworld, the world's largest indoor amusement park, in Seoul, South Korea. The act advanced to Radio City Music Hall on  "America's Got Talent."
Circus family makes cut for 'America's Got Talent'
By Susan L. Rife
July 18, 2013
It was a "blink and you missed it" moment during four hours of "America's Got Talent" on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but Sarasota circus performers John and Alexandra Nock and their Aerosphere Aerial Balloon Show made the cut and are headed to Radio City Music Hall in New York City in August.
As Howard Stern, one of four judges, intoned, "It's impossible to say no to you. You are going to Radio City Music Hall. Bring us your best and we'll see you in New York," there was a brief reaction clip of Alexandra Nock. But the act itself wasn't shown.
"We are hoping that now we are getting our 90 seconds in the next round," said John Nock.
The circus act will take a team of about 10 to New York and will perform an as-yet-unrevealed act there. Sarasota circus performers Nathon and Brandon Deets, Andrew Pratt and the Nocks' son, Andrew, will be part of the crew that will perform live for audience voting beginning Aug. 6. In addition to Stern, the show's judges are former Spice Girl Mel B, comedian Howie Mandel and model Heidi Klum.
"We are scheduled to perform at Radio City Music Hall and I smile when I say that because for any entertainer around the world, that is the place where you hope you can perform once in your life," said Nock.
The team will go to New York a few days before the broadcast.
"I'm hoping for as much rehearsal as possible," said Nock. "We have to inflate a helium aerosphere with many cylinders of helium and that takes a little bit of time, around six hours."
Does the current helium shortage worry him?
"It's tough, it's tough," he said. "We are existing clients with certain helium companies so it's a lot easier."
At stake is a million-dollar prize and a chance to present a show in Las Vegas.
"I have to push it out of my mind if I start to think that way," he said. "It would be overwhelming, it would be wonderful. A million dollars is a lot of money, and just think about all the good we could do. There would be percentages of that money that would do wonderful things in our community. Those are things that are on our minds and in our hearts.


State Fair opening day
July 18, 2013

GARY EMEIGH/THE NEWS JOURNALThousands pour into the Delaware State Fair for opening night.

GARY EMEIGH/THE NEWS JOURNALA cow has his own personal fan in his stall at the Delaware State Fair. Thousands defied the hot, sticky weather to attend opening night of Delaware State Fair


GARY EMEIGH/THE NEWS JOURNALThousands defied the hot, sticky weather to purchase advance ride tickets for opening night of Delaware State Fair.

GARY EMEIGH/THE NEWS JOURNALA pig helps himself to a drink of water in a barn at the state fair
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GARY EMEIGH/THE NEWS JOURNALYoyo ride comes to life as thousands defied the hot, sticky weather to attend opening night of Delaware State Fair.
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Kelly Miller Circus returns to Willowick's Dudley Park
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 By Chris M. Worrell, Correspondent
July 17, 2013
WILLOWICK, Ohio -- The City of Willowick welcomes the Kelly Miller Circus to Dudley Park, 31500 Willowick Drive, Monday, July 22. Performances are scheduled for 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Advance tickets can be purchased at the Willowick Senior Center, 321 E. 314th St., or at the activities center at Manry Park. Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 2-11. Tickets the day of the show run $15 for adults and $7 for children ages 2-11. Children under 2 earn free admission.
A visit to the circus is an annual summer tradition in Willowick. As always, area residents are invited to the park Monday morning to watch the animals being unloaded and fed and to witness as the big top is raised by elephants. Activities typically begin around 7:30 a.m. with the tent-raising occurring about an hour later.
According to the Kelly Miller website, the circus is the second largest big top show in the United States. The traveling show was established in 1938 by Obert Miller and his two sons. In 2007, the circus was purchased by John Ringling North Jr., a descendant of the famous Ringling circus family. The show features exotic animal displays, performers from around the world, daring acts, lively music and theatrical lighting.

C & M

At the Library
Circus at the library: Step right up
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Column by Kari May
July 17, 2013
You never know what each new day in the office will bring. A couple months ago, I was sitting in my office, and one of the librarians came back to tell me I had a visitor. A gentleman was ushered into my office, and he asked me if the library would consider hosting a circus on its grounds in July.
Now, one of my rules of library leadership is to give every question careful consideration before making my final answer — what seems like an impossibility at first glance often becomes possible when you get into the details. After getting more information from the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus representative, I called the president of the Elbert County Libraries Foundation and asked her if the foundation might be interested in this opportunity — a fundraiser for the foundation, and more exposure for the library in the community.
The final answer? The circus is coming! The caravan will pull into town early morning on July 21 and start putting up the tents and arranging the attractions. You are invited to watch the tent raising at 10 a.m. and stay for a tour of the grounds. Two performances will be held that afternoon, one at 2 and one at 4:30. Tickets are on sale at our library branches. Tickets are $6 for children and $10 for adults in advance; $7 and $13 at the door; children under 2 get in free.
I remember my first circus experience. I was 16 years old, and my dad took me and my brother to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus … in an arena similar to the Pepsi Center. The whole experience felt very cliche to me: My dad, recently divorced from my mom, was taking his kids out for a fun day and bought us treats like cotton candy and a souvenir program. I have never experienced a circus as originally intended, under the big top. So you can guess where you can find me on July 21!
There are, of course, books about circuses to enjoy while you wait for the big top to arrive. From Dr. Seuss' “If I Ran the Circus” and “Olivia Saves the Circus” for young children to mysteries for young readers such as “Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Circus Clown” or Nancy Drew's adventure in “The Ringmaster's Secret,” we have stories to delight all ages. For adults, check out the book or the movie, “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, or, for a different kind of circus, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.
Some days, with the crowds and the questions we hear at the library, we feel like we are participating in a circus! For one day this summer, we will actually host a circus. Buy your ticket and join us on July 21.
Kari May lives in Elizabeth and is the director of the Elbert County Library District. She can be contacted through the library at Visit the library at


Jason McKibben
July 18, 2013

Big Apple Circus ringmaster John Kennedy Kane introduces one of 11 acts in the troupe's production of "Legendarium" in Lake George's Charles R. Wood Park Wednesday, July 17, 2013. (Jason McKibben -

The clown team Acrobuffos perform during the Big Apple Circus' production of "Legendarium" in Lake George's Charles R. Wood Park Wednesday, July 17, 2013. (Jason McKibben -
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Audience members applaud during the Big Apple Circus' production of "Legendarium" in Lake George's Charles R. Wood Park Wednesday, July 17, 2013. (Jason McKibben -
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Circus Smirkus performers will return to Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich this week with “Oz Incorporated,” a new spin on the “Wizard of Oz” story.
July 18, 2013
 Circus Smirkus, Vermont's award-winning international youth circus, will present a different spin on “The Wizard of Oz” this week with six shows at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich. As part of its 26th annual Big Top Tour, the traveling troupe will present “Oz Incorporated,” billed in a press release as a new twist on the journey down the tale's famed yellow brick road.
According to press material, Circus Smirkus is the only American youth circus to travel “under canvas”; that is, the only youth circus to put on a full-season tour under its own big top – a 750-seat, one-ring, European-style tent. The touring company consists of about 80 people, including 26 performers ages 11 to 18. Also in the group are coaches, counselors, costumers, technical crew, tent crew, circus chefs and a live circus band.
The performers, known as troupers, are selected for skill, character and personality through an audition process that begins each fall. The group works closely with coaches, a choreographer, composer and costumer before hitting the road for a seven-week summer tour, with almost 70 performances scheduled for this year. During the course of the season, troupers learn the ropes of traditional circus life: hours of practice, full two-hour shows twice a day, and the demanding labor of loading the show in and out of a venue.
In addition to circus arts, the troupers learn about teamwork and community, and give back to the larger community through free performances at children's hospitals and nursing homes.
Over the years, according to the press release, Smirkus has received accolades from all over the world. It is the focus of the award-winning documentary, “Circus Dreams,” which has been shown in film festivals worldwide.
Smirkus troupers often go on to successful careers in the circus arts. Graduates have performed with Ringling Brothers, Big Apple Circus, Cirque du Soleil and circuses across Europe and Asia.
Circus Smirkus is the brainchild of Rob Mermin, who ran away to the circus himself at age 19. He performed as a clown for more than a decade in the national circuses of Europe, studied with Marcel Marceau and had his own show on Swedish television. When he returned to the United States, he served as director of Ringling Brothers Clown College. He created Circus Smirkus in 1987.
If you go:
What: Circus Smirkus.
When: 2 and 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Where: Heritage Museums & Gardens, 67 Grove St., Sandwich.
Tickets: $25, Children 2-12, $20, children under 2, free.
Information: or 508-888-3300.


Valley Railroad Circus Train and Big Top Show

see article below


Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show steams into Essex Station
Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show photo: Families will get a glimpse of what a bygone-era circus looked like when the Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show comes to Essex.
by Sandi Kahn Shelton
July 18, 2013
ESSEX - The circus is coming! And it’s coming by train.
That’s right. For the next two weekends, the Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show will be at the Essex Station, transforming it into an old-fashioned summer day’s dream, as the famous Essex steam train will be transformed into a genuine circus train with antique circus wagons that will take you right to the fun.
Think music, clowns, a midway with amusement rides, plenty of circus food, and shows inside a big-top tent.
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Valley Railroad Circus Train & Big Top Show photo: That’s ringmaster Bob Bell, who also happens to be president of the Valley Railroad.
Guests will park at the Lee Co., 55 Bokum Road in Essex, and then hop aboard the circus train and be whisked away to the Essex Steam Train Station, where they can spend the day enjoying the Big Top just like in the old days. There will be a petting zoo, rides, an acrobat show, puppets performing “Punch and Judy,” and a children’s musician named La La.
It’ll be like going back in time to the old days, when families rode the train to the big top and spent the day playing games and soaking up the wild and crazy entertainment.
The first train departs from the Lee Co. at 9:30 a.m., and the last leaves at 3 p.m. The circus will be in town Saturday and Sunday and July 27-28.
Admission is $20 per person (those under 2 are free), and includes the train ride, the big-top show and midway entertainment. Tickets must be purchased for a specific departure time. Go to to purchase in advance.
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Young circus stars tumble into Edmonds
July 18, 2013

Dan Bates / The Herald
Grace Holmes, 5, from Bothell, peeks between two tarps to see the crowd gathering Wednesday afternoon for the Wenatchee Youth Circus, playing in Edmonds, which is performing here for the 15th year. It will be only the second performance for Grace as a circus clown, so she is very excited. Grace's parents are Russ and Cherry Holmes of Bothell.

Dan Bates / The Herald
On the high flying trapeze, catcher Cole Tipton (left) is just shy of being able to catch William Tuthill, who falls safely into the net below Wednesday afternoon during a performance by the Wenatchee Youth Circus, which is playing in Edmonds for the 15th year.

Young performers, including clowns, tumblers, high-wire performers and more, ranging from age 5 to seniors in high school gather and conduct opening ceremonies Wednesday afternoon for the Wenatchee Youth Circus, which is playing in Edmonds for the 15th year.
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Dan Bates / The Herald
Young performers, including clowns, tumblers, high-wire performers and more, ranging from age 5 to seniors in high school gather and conduct opening ceremonies Wednesday afternoon for the Wenatchee Youth Circus, which is playing in Edmonds for the 15th year.
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