2014 Convention



Friday, May 2, 2014


Ringling Bros. Presents LEGENDS - The Riders of the Wind

In a breathtaking act of horsemanship and amazing agility, The Riders of the Wind execute incredible stunts that push the boundaries of strength and courage in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS!

Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in an all-new show - - Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS. Experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and mysterious creatures: a Unicorn, a Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions! Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS!

Ringling Bros. circus could leave town as Los Angeles bans elephant bull hooks
By Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News
In a move that could threaten the annual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show in Los Angeles, the City Council approved a ban Wednesday on the use of bull hooks, bats, ax handles and other devices that animal activists say inflict pain on elephants.

“It is important we send a message that we are as concerned about the treatment of animals as we are with people,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, one of the co-authors of the proposal.

Even though the measure does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, O’Farrell said its adoption will raise public awareness of the use of control devices for elephants and other large animals.

“I’m disappointed it will not take effect sooner, but there is a reluctance by some to push aggressively on how we treat animals,” O’Farrell said. “We are moving in the right direction.”

During earlier debates on the proposal, Ringling Bros. officials protested the impact of the measure and said it could mean an end to the circus coming to Los Angeles, where it has held performances since 1922.

The company insisted the measure is not needed and that the devices are used to guide the animals but not inhumanely.

However, animal activists said they had concerns the devices hurt the animals.

O’Farrell defended the council action from critics, who say it is an area local leaders should not be involved in.

“People who criticize the council for this are ignoring the fact that we spend 90 percent of our time on the nuts and bolts of city government,” O’Farrell said. “They don’t see the big picture of what we are doing. It is also important for us to make a statement on issues like this.”
Sheffield circus act breaks world axe-juggling record

by Ellen Beardmore
May 1, 2014

Sheffield circus act Chris Marley holds a world record that is tough to handle - the most consecutive axe juggling catches.

The 29-year-old has made history – and his way into the Guinness World Records book – by catching an astonishing 369 throws in a row.

Chris, of Upperthorpe, trained for months to perfect his technique and beat the previous record held by American Max Winfrey by 200 catches.

He said: “I trained using the axes, because there isn’t really a way around it – they have a pretty unusual weight distribution.

“It was difficult and I had a couple of near misses, but all my fingers and toes are still intact.

“It feels good to be a record holder, all the hard work has paid off.

“The only problem now is I have a load of axes which I don’t need.”

Chris has been juggling for 12 years and trains at Sheffield’s Greentop Circus in Wincobank, although he travels the country to perform as a freelance juggler.

The world record was smashed at Greentop in November and filmed for Guinness adjudicators who have now made it official.
A panel of experts and independent witnesses watched, while Chris also had to chop wood with each of the axes to show they were sharp and fit for purpose.

He said: “It started when I was a teenager and then I started getting bookings, did some part-time work and now I am professional, so really it is a hobby that got out of hand.

“I’ve been juggling for years and wanted to try something a little bit different and break a world record.

“Friends were surprised when I told them about the axe juggling, but when I tell people what I do for a living, they don’t always believe me anyway.

“I’d never say never about another world record, but not at the moment,although I have got some stuff in the pipeline for new tricks.”

Ringling Bros. and Barnum &Bailey: "Built To Amaze!" 

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ® Presents Built To Amaze!℠, the 143rd edition of the Greatest Show On Earth. Surprise and wonder delights audiences with over the top feats of strength, agility and courage. As the momentum builds so does the anticipation, anything can happen when Ringling Bros. Presents Built To Amaze!

Circus performers from across the globe create the perfect blend of athleticism and bravery, where power meets fearlessness and amazement has no bounds. Magnificent elephants, ferocious tigers, astonishing acrobats and awe-inspiring aerialists are engineered into one spectacular performance.

Celebrate the tradition TODAY and experience it's modern flare of twists and turns where excitement and suspense are so intense you'll be tempted to cover your eyes. From the blueprints to the band, the crates to the clowns, the hammer to the high wire, witness the spectacle as we measure out the perfect mix of marvel and majesty in an imagination equation where the impossible comes to life. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Built To Amaze! 

Illinois county fairs still popular with changing populace
Nat Williams, Field Editor
Wednesday, April 30,2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — In January, Ron Meyer of Manteno began a two-year term as president of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs. Meyer also serves as president of the Will County Fair, where he has been involved for 37 years.

In a recent interview with AgriNews, Meyer discussed the makeup and mission of the association. He also spoke about how county fairs have stayed the same over the years and how they have changed.

Q: Does the IAAF represent only county fairs or are the two state fairs — Springfield and Du Quoin — part of its province?

A: We represent only county fairs, all 103 of them.

Q: How can there be 103 county fairs when there are only 102 counties in the state?

A: Some counties have more than one fair. In Livingston County, for instance, there are three: the 4-H fair in Pontiac, the junior fair in Collom and the regular county fair at Fairbury. Some counties don’t have a county fair per se; there are a couple of counties that go together.

Q: What is the general makeup of IAAF? And what is the association’s purpose?

A: The state of Illinois is made up of three zones: northern, central and southern. They each have a board of directors. Each zone has two directors on the board and one director at large. The past president serves for two years after the term is over.

We represent every county fair within the state of Illinois. We don’t try to run the fairs for them. Everyone has their own way to do things. If they have a problem, they come to the state association, and we try to help them correct it, whether it’s through rules writing or the Legislature.

We’re behind every county fair. We want to make every county fair as successful as it can possibly be. We have our own lobbyist now, too. The fair funding is getting quite critical.
Merced County Spring Fair expected to draw 75,000 people to Los Banos
By The Los Banos Enterprise
Enterprise Staff Reports
Apr. 29, 2014 

LOS BANOS -- The Merced County Spring Fair returns to the Los Banos fairgrounds today, featuring entertainment, rides, games, food and an abundance of competitions for FFA and 4-H livestock exhibitors.

The fair runs until Sunday, and attendance is expected to reach about 75,000 at the annual event.

The West Side fair generates more than $7 million, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s fairs and expositions division.

The Merced County Spring Fair is part of a network of California fairs that generate more than $2.5 billion in economic activity.

As the fair enters its 125th year, management is striving to continue in the face of budget cuts.

About three years ago, the state stopped funding the fair system. Local businesses and the Merced County Spring Fair Heritage Foundation have stepped in to raise enough to continue to pay more than $40,000 in prize money for youth projects ranging from ag mechanics to livestock.

Fundraisers have been critical in operating the fair and attracting talent.

The fair also generates business tax revenue from the additional activity during its five-day run, money spent by its visitors and other events on the fairgrounds throughout the year.

More than 6,000 students come to the fair through the free school tour program, which provides them with hands-on lessons about agriculture.

New this year is Jaripeo Ranchero, a bull-riding rodeo, scheduled for Thursday.

What began as a spring picnic by town founder Henry Miller in 1890 has grown into an energetic community event supported by businesses, local organizations and families.

This year’s fair theme is “Growing Our Heritage.” Adult day passes (ages 13 and up) at the gate are $9; youth day passes (ages 6 to 12) at the gate are $3. Children 5 and under are free.

The Los Banos fairgrounds are located at 403 F St.

For more information about the fair, 
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Ray Rogers, owner and his daughter

Westport welcomes circus this Sunday

Brent Brown Daily News
Greensburg Daily News
April 29, 2014
Contributed Photo Clowns, as always, will be part of this weekend's Culpepper & Merriweather Circus in Westport. Seen here is Skeeter the Clown, an accomplished performer who has visited Westport in recent years.
Contributed Photo
By Brent Brown--Daily News
From: Greensburg Daily News
April 29, 2014
WESTPORT – Clowns, exotic animals and all manner of family fun head to Westport this weekend as the famous Culpepper & Merriweather Circus makes its return to Decatur County.

Organizers have promised a memorable time under the Big Top with a pair of performances at the Westport Community Building ball field. The first begins at 2 p.m. Sunday and will be followed by an encore at 4:30 p.m.

The midway box office opens at 1 p.m. Each show will last approximately 90 minutes.

 Exotic animals and other family-friendly attractions will visit Westport Sunday when the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus brings its Big Top to the small Decatur County community.
 Contributed Photo 

The spring show is one of four events brought to the small southwestern Decatur County community courtesy of the Westport Business Association (WBA).

That organization’s public relations officer, Sandra Cunningham-Billieu, said proceeds from the event will go back into the Business Association’s coffer and used for other Westport events. Those include the Covered Bridge Festival in the summer; fall’s healthy fair in partnership with Decatur County Memorial Hospital, and Santa’s Village each Christmas.

“All the money we make we end up putting back into the community,” Cunningham-Billieu said. “We just like to support the businesses that are here, do what we can to help them succeed, and to broaden what we have.”

Sunday’s circus intends to keep the small community’s local flair while also offering the spectacle that typically accompanies such an event. Cunningham-Billieu said some Westport residents will serve as Promotional materials promise trapeze artists, tight rope walkers, a group of unicyclists and live animal acts.

Children will be offered pony rides before and after the action gets underway beneath the famous circus tent. There will also be a free tent-raising at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, followed by a free tour. This tour will feature performers and allow guests to learn a bit about the history of the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus.
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APR. 28 2014, 
News Release — Circus Smirkus
April 24, 2014
802-533-7443 x24
Tiny Circus takes a Giant Step. Northeast Kingdom kids set to applaud!
Greensboro, VT – April 24
Last Wednesday, Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s favorite youth circus, purchased a 135-year-old farmhouse and barn on 35 acres in Greensboro, Vermont, with plans to build a permanent home for the Smirkus Camp. The circus plans to remodel the existing facilities and construct new dormitories to allow its summer camp to bring over 600 campers to the Northeast Kingdom each summer to learn the art of taking a pie in the face. The company is thrilled to be bringing Smirkus Camp back to Greensboro—just eight miles from its world headquarters and the well-known Big Top Tour—in 2015, just in time for the camp’s 25th Anniversary.

“There are so many reasons to be excited about our new home for Smirkus Camp,” remarked Ed LeClair, Executive Director of Circus Smirkus. “We hate to turn away children with circus stars in their eyes, but our previous facilities just couldn’t hold all the kids who want to run away to Smirkus. Now we have room to add as many as 200 campers every summer. Plus our new facility will bring jobs and tourism to the area and will double the capacity for scholarships, allowing Smirkus to reach more kids from the Northeast Kingdom. This is our dream come true.

Smirkus predicts an economic impact of a quarter million tourism dollars annually on the local area and an addition of fourteen permanent and seasonal jobs. Local entrepreneur Mateo Kehler of the Cellars at Jasper Hill expressed his excitement for the project. “The town of Greensboro is enthusiastically behind this project. It builds on the successes of Northeast Kingdom companies like Hill Farmstead, Pete’s Greens, High Mowing Seeds, Craftsbury Outdoor Center, and Vermont Soy.”

Support within the Greensboro community has also been encouraging. At the recent ACT 250 hearing, District Commission Head Warren E. Foster remarked, “This is the first time I have attended an Act 250 hearing that ended in applause.” The Circus Smirkus application was unopposed during the Act 250 process.

Circus Smirkus is an award-winning, international youth circus. Founded in Greensboro,Vermont, in 1987 with the mission of promoting the skills, culture, and traditions of the traveling circus and providing a forum for kids to engage in life-enhancing adventures through the circus arts, Smirkus has grown to include three programs: Big Top Tour, the only touring youth circus in the country, the acclaimed in-school and after-school Ringmaster Residencies, and Smirkus Camp, America’s only residential summer camp that teaches the circus arts in traditional European big top circus tents.

Smirkus Camp was founded in 1990 so that kids of all ages and abilities could experience the dream of running away and joining the circus. In its twenty-four-year history, the summer camp has moved five times to accommodate the growing number of kids who want to enjoy the fun and friendships of Circus Smirkus Camp. Despite the hospitality that Smirkus Camp’s temporary sites have so graciously offered—including Bolton Valley Ski Resort, White Mountain School, Sterling College, Lyndon Institute, and finally Burke Mountain Academy—the camp has needed a home to call its own.

The property overlooks Lake Caspian and provides views of nearby Stannard Mountain. The existing farmhouse will be home to camp administration, and the antique post and beam barn will become a dining hall and gathering area for camp activities. The new dormitories will be arranged in a circle, evoking an image of both a campfire and a circus ring. The fields behind the main property, called “Luther Hill” after longtime Greensboro visitor Luther Eisenhardt who was Albert Einstein’s protégé at Princeton, will provide space in the summer for the camp’s big top tents and a balance pavilion where kids will learn to walk on stilts and ride unicycles. Twenty-nine of the property’s approximate thirty-five acres will be placed into conservation easement.

Camp Director Megan Rose explained, “We had looked at several properties in the Northeast Kingdom and throughout Vermont, but nothing felt right. When I saw this property with its rolling, beautiful fields, just asking for circus tents, I knew this was the home we were looking for. Smirkus Camp’s destiny was confirmed the next day when we found a lone Circus Smirkus poster from 1990 hanging on the wall of the barn. This is a place where we can hang our history on the walls all year.

“Forty-five years ago Smirkus founder Rob Mermin ran away to join the circus seeking a life of adventure,” said LeClair. “Today we are creating a home for kids to follow in his footsteps, and we are thrilled to be doing so in the Northeast Kingdom, in Greensboro, Vermont, which has already welcomed Smirkus for twenty-seven years.”
Circus gig real blast for skate-kid Ryan

DEFYING GRAVITY: Caloundra’s Ryan Williams wows the crowds in Prague during the Nitro Circus 2012 tour.
29th Apr 2014 
FROM Sunshine Coast skate parks to flipping 15 metres in the air in front of a crowd of thousands, Ryan Williams has taken his love for extreme sports to the ultimate edge.

And he couldn't think of a better way to make a living.

Now known as R Willy, Ryan was plucked from Caloundra skate park by Travis Pastrana and his Nitro Circus crew in 2011 and is enjoying some much-needed downtime back home before heading off on an Australian tour.

Fresh from sell-out tours of Europe, North America and South Africa, Ryan is happy to be back home at Caloundra skate park.

With only two six-centimetre-wide wheels sliding him down the mega ramps, Ryan's ability to transform the humble scooter into an extreme sport has floored

audiences the world over.

"It's just an amazing feeling to know this is what I do for a living ... it's my dream," he said.

Ryan is coming back bigger and better than ever, hoping for another world record next month in the Brisbane show with the first-ever 720 front flip - a BMX front flip with two twists.

"I don't practise the trucks, I just play them out in my head and go for it," Ryan said. "We all know how fast we can spin and how high we can go, so we calculate it all in our heads.

Catch R Willy and the entire Nitro Circus Live crew at Brisbane on May 16, 17, 18 and possibly a fourth show on the 19th.
The Cole Brothers Circus is in Town!
By Brittany Marshall

HAGERSTOWN, Md. - The Cole Bros. Circus is back in the four-state region! 

Known as the world's largest show under the Big Top, the Cole Bros. circus is celebrating 130 years of amazing shows.

Ringmaster Chris Connors will lead the acts, as the audience will watch performances from acrobats, white tigers, clowns, and elephants. 

Tickets are still on sale at the box office at the Review and Herald Field in Hagerstown. 

The Hagerstown shows are Monday and Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. They will also have shows in Frederick, Maryland on Wednesday and Thursday, and this weekend they will be at the Apple Blossom Festival in Virginia.


  A very smart image of McLaren Circus current site in Parow North which is the the Jan Burger Sports Complex until Sunday May 4.
  (Picture courtesy of Barry Anderson's Facebook page.)
  After Parow North the circus will be putting on shows at the De Poort Village,Turk Street in Paarl from the 7th to 11th May.

Hi All, 
Picture Shuru Entertainment from Mumbai, India are producing a major motion picture, called ‘Jagga Jasoos’.
The producers are Mr. Anurag Basu who is also the director of the film and Mr. Ranbir Kapoor who is the main actor of the film.

This film shoot will be held on Tuesday 20th May 2014 in Citrusdal at the McLaren Circus site. The schedule at Citrusdal will be as follows:

19th May : Arrive and set up in Citrusdal.  7pm Show
20th May : 7am Film shoot work until 5/6pm. 7pm Show. Break Down.
From Denzil McLaren

Monday, April 28, 2014


Circus deal just the ticket for council to raise money for charities
April 28, 2014
ORANGE City Council staff hope a joint fundraising promotion with Great Moscow Circus management will raise $15,000 for charities.

The Great Moscow Circus stars will perform in Orange from June 18 to 29 and the touring show’s management has decided to donate 500 tickets to raise money for charities. 

Council staff are now seeking expressions of interest from charity workers to help sell tickets and share in the proceeds. 

Orange mayor John Davis said the Great Moscow Circus management was generous to offer the tickets to the charities.

“Last time the circus was in Orange it was extremely popular,” Cr Davis said.

“There should be little trouble selling these tickets and the money raised will benefit our community’s charities greatly. 

“Once people see the first few shows, they’ll tell their friends and word will spread like wildfire. 

“It works as a promotional strategy and it’s a generous boost for two local charities.” 

According to council spokesperson Allan Reeder the circus will be held at Sir Jack Braham Park this year.

“Arrangements have been made with local sporting clubs to ensure minimal disturbance to the winter sporting season,” he said.

In order to be selected for the fundraiser partnership, charity volunteers must complete an expression of interest form that can be downloaded via the Orange City Council website by May 9.

By WKBN Staff
Sunday, April 27,2014

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Animal rights activists are in Youngstown, protesting what they say is inhumane treatment of circus animals.

On Sunday, the group handed out fliers and coloring books to folks heading to the Covelli Center for the Ringling Brothers show. They said that the company has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines because of animal welfare violations.

“Yes, you can have fun at the circus and you probably, the people today will probably have a wonderful time including their children, but that’s only if you ignore the suffering of the animals. If you educate yourself and make yourself aware of what goes on with the animals, especially behind the scenes, I’m sure people will make a better decision,” said protester Veronica Dickey.

Protesters plan on being outside the Covelli Center on Monday night as well.

Camel Pin As a special thank you for your minimum donation of $25 to this most important fund, you will receive a beautiful 2014/2015 Camel lapel pin. Contact the OABA to request previous years’ pins from the collection, as they may also be available.Those who contribute at least $25 will be listed in our Circus Fund Contribution Report for one month in the ShowTime magazine. Donors of $50 or more will be listed in our Annual Contribution list published in the Midway Marquee Directory and listed every month in ShowTime.

Circus acts bring lifelong lessons for students
Elementary students learn confidence, physical skills through circus performance camps and clubs
Reported by Lasia Kretzel
Apr 26, 2014 8:52am | Last 

Eleven-year-old Emma grabs hold of the aerial hoop and hoists herself above the crowd.

With a fire-breathing dragon painted across her smiling face, she twirls through the air, balancing on the hoop with only her hands.

The circus has come to town.

The grade six student is one of more than 100 elementary school kids aged eight to 14 who took part in a spring break circus camp. Classes included everything from tight rope, unicycle, stilts and work on the aerial rig.

The project, spearheaded by the Potash Corp Children’s Festival in partnership with Saskatoon Public Schools, aims to get kids active while building their self esteem and social skills.

In addition to the week-long camp, the kids hone their skills throughout the year at five public school circus clubs.

“A lot of the kids that are participating, they don’t get a chance to do organized sports or activities or they may not be interested in traditional sports so circus gives them a chance to participate in other things they wouldn’t have a chance to otherwise,” Children’s Festival associate producer Amber Husk said.

“Beyond the physical skills they’re really taking away self-esteem, personal empowerment, [and] self-confidence, because they wouldn’t have know before that they could do these skills.”

Emma, in her second year of the program, said she takes dance lessons and felt the circus acts helped her improve her balance. However, she thinks she could apply the skills outside the gym.

“Later when I want to be a kindergarten teacher, I could use it then and teach the kids some easy stuff,” she said.
Meanwhile 13-year-old Rose said she also got a lot out of the program.

“It’s really good confidence. Like tightrope, you go out there and you walk on your own, you can see people watching you but some people don’t get nervous because you’re like ‘I’m okay with this, I’m fine walking.’ It just helps. It’s fun,” said Rose, who walked forwards and backwards along a sloped tightrope.

 The kids performed for their parents on Friday and will also perform during the Children’s Festival in June.

“I get a little nervous but as soon as you’re back stage that goes away and it’s like ‘yeah this is going to be awesome,” Emma said.
From lion taming to aerialist stunts, the Stephenson family has generations of experience entertaining others as part of the Greatest Show on Earth.
By Lori Carter 
February 27, 2014

Ann Stephenson, 61, remembers it like it was yesterday. She was a 7 year old living in Mobile, Alabama, with her parents, whom she thought were regular people with regular jobs.

“One day my dad came in and said, ‘I’m going to California to buy some lions and an elephant.’ Until then, I didn’t know we were in the circus,” Ann says. “Next thing I knew here came two trucks—one with seven lions and another with an elephant. And we were off to Florida. I thought it was great.”

Her late father, Swede Johnson, came to the United States from Denmark in 1918. He had already traveled with his family in their own circus throughout the Scandinavian countries. He went to work at 15 in the Hagenbeck Zoo in Germany and then came to the United States as an assistant to Alfred Court, a wild animal trainer. Swede was fourth generation circus. Ann’s late mother, Mabel Johnson, was first generation.

“In those days you did whatever you could to make money,” she says. “He [Swede] trained animals, rode horses and clowned. My mom did some circus; she was an aerialist at the time.”
Swede practiced for hours upon hours with the cats.

“Dad would get hurt sometimes with the lions—bitten or scratched,” she says. “My mom had as much medicine as Waterman. She had her own ER.”

When he joined the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in 1959, Ann was interested as well.

“Dad went on the road,” she says. “Mom wanted me to go to school. They gave me the best of both lives, school in the winter and on the road in summer.”

Summertime was spent in the northeast. Ann began her circus career working in concessions. Three years later, she helped train the family elephant by putting her through her seven- to eight-minute routines.
“I adored Pinky,” she says, “but she hated the sight of me. If she would’ve gotten the chance, she would have killed me.”

The truck had living quarters in the front. The elephant lived in the middle, so to get out of the truck Ann had to run past Pinky. A lot of times she says she tried to “bluff her out” and stood quietly and then ran like the dickens before the animal “could turn around and whip me.”

“One time she knocked me out of the truck, and I landed in elephant urine,” she says. “And I loved her so; I just adored her so.”

Because the family had its own act, they were responsible for their expenses, including gas, lodging and feeding the elephant grain and the lions 100 pounds of meat every other day. Ann’s father decided to get off the road. He sold the animals to another circus and assisted in training for a short period of time.

 Swede spent his later years in Clown Alley on
the Ringling shows
Be sure to use the below web address to read lots
more about the Johnson family!
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