I promise to get back to writing about writing...really!!
This was a week of circus for us. Tuesday we headed out to a far suburb to see Culpepper-Merriweather Circus perform. CM is the same circus Klown toured with three years ago. They are a typical traveling mudshow, complete with plenty of questionably maintained vehicles, tents, and performers. Like most mudshows these days, CM is showing its wear a bit around the edges. Finances are tight for these types of traveling troupes, and without the corporate and non-profit assistance that larger circuses like Flora and Big Apple receive, they are making do with what they have.
That doesn't mean the show was bad. It was actually quite good, and I was pretty impressed. The entire performance revolved around two circus families doing multiple acts, which is certainly not uncommon in this day and age. I did take pictures, but then ran out of batteries half-way through the first act, so my pictures are VERY limited. But I'll share what I have.
The show opened with a cat act. I'm not a huge fan of cat acts, but they are beautiful creatures to watch. The smallness of the tent meant that we were sitting about 20 feet away from them, which is about as close as I've ever been to a big cat. The tigers were Casey McCoy's. One cat was giving him a hard time, but they all went through their paces eventually.
Chico the clown interspersed his comedy in between acts, mostly while they were setting up the ring for the next act. I met him before the show, he seems like a nice guy, but he didn't wow the audience much. He was on the midway before the show hawking his "It's The Strangest Thing You've Ever Seen." I didn't go in, but Klown took Tater into the little tent to see the Strangest Thing. She came out with a totally disgusted look on her face. Klown said it was like the Fiji mermaid. I have never seen an actual midway, but I imagine they were a lot of fun and weirdness in their day. The CM midway had a slide-bounce, pony rides, the Strangest Thing, and a ball bounce.
The second act of the show was Simone on the single trap. She is a beautiful girl and also played the role of ringmistress the second half of the show. Her father was her prop man. Simone and her family were also the unicycle act later in the show, and her sister April performed a pretty incredible rola bola act. Their baby sister Pauline performed an act with trained birds, an act Simone used to do.
After the trap, there was a Hula act. The performer was so tiny she was smaller than my teenage daughter. She had a lot of energy and could really work the hoops. Turns out she was part of the other performing family with CM, the Perez Family. She appeared later during the high wire routine, and at the end in the Russian Swing act.
Probably my favorite act was the Russian Swing. This is always done with such high energy and leaves you feeling quite "up" by the time you leave the show.
CM was moving down the road about 9 miles for the next night's performance, so they were going to make their jump that night. I watched the "little things" going on in the background as the work crew was breaking things down, even while the performance was still going on. After intermission, the entrance gates were taken down, and during the high wire act the large "no smoking" banners were removed from the sidewall. As soon as the show was over and people were walking out, the ring curb was removed, and the sidewall was dropped starting at the far end of the tent. By the time the audience had cleared the tent, there was crew folding up the seats onto the seat wagons and a small bobcat was going around lifting stakes that had been used to hold rigging. The rigging had already been removed. Klown was hanging around talking to his friends as I watched them put away the schwag and close up the concession trailer. It all went pretty quickly after that, Tater and I walked to the van and watched as the side-poles came down, then the quarter poles, and finally the two center poles. The whole thing took maybe twenty minutes. It was just about full dark by then, I don't know how they were doing it with no light.
I have gotten to see a tent go up, and that takes quite a bit longer than going down!
As promised, here are a few pictures:
This is "The Frog," the little vehicle that usually goes ahead of the circus by a day.
The ticket end of the trailer that also housed the concession stand.
The concession side of the trailer. It was run by two guys who doled out an awful lot of diet coke and cotton candy, as far as I could tell!
Tater standing at the entrance to the little tent housing "The Strange Thing."
The only bit of performance I managed to get before the camera batteries conked out.
Being a geek, I noticed this almost right away. This was in the concession trailer, on a little window between the concession part and the ticket part. This high-end wireless router was probably providing wireless access to the performers and workers on the circus. I also wondered if it was providing voice over broadband, but I didn't see any evidence of that. I also did not see the satellite dish that was probably providing the originating signal for the wireless router.