Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Butterfly Circus

All I can say to this is wow. Twenty minutes of beauty. Smarmy message, but great beauty in this little film.

Especially from the owner of the circus, Mr. Mendez, played by Eduardo Verastegui. Yum.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Route Cards - May 14th and on

Cole Brothers

Salisbury MD May 13-14
Dover, MD May 15-17
Vineland, NJ May 18-19
Tannersville, PA May 20-21
Randolph, NJ May 22-23
Livingston, NJ May 24-25
Moosic, PA May 26-28
Wappingers Falls, NY May 29-31

Circus Vasquez
Salem, OR May 15-19
Tacoma, WA May 22-25
Salt Lake City, UT May 29-June 2

Circus Vargas
Simi Valley, CA May 13-18
Santa Barbara, CA May 21-15

Carson and Barnes
Beaumont, CA May 13-14
Perris, CA May 15-17
Hemet, CA May 18-19
Lancaster, CA May 20-21
Oxnard, CA May 22-25
Santa Maria, CA May 26-27
San Francisco, CA May 29031

Friday, April 17, 2009

Route Cards, April 17 and on

Mud Shows

Cole Brothers

April 18-19 - Wilson, NC
April 20-21 - Lynchburg, VA
April 22-23 - Harrisonburg, VA
May 2-3 - Winchester, VA

Carson and Barnes

April 17-26 - Del Mar, California

Kelly Miller

April 18 - Shelbyville, IL
April 19 - Marhsall, IL
April 20 - Clinton, IN
April 21 - Jasonville, IN
April 22 - Spencer, IN
April 23 - Odon, IN
April 24 - Oakland City, IN
April 25 - Tell City, IN
April 26 - Shoals, IN
April 27 - Brownstown, IN
April 28 - Madison, IN
April 29 - Rising Sun, IN
April 30 - Liberty, IN
May 1 - Osgood, IN

Zoppe Family Circus
April 17-19 - Ridgeland, MS
April 22-25 - Decatur, AL
May 14-16 - Overland Park, KS

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kelly Miller Circus, Festus, 4/13/09

Here are pictures from KM on April 13th. It was a lucky day, despite the rain!

Steve, Bob "Doodles" Kelmer, and Ryan

Steve, "Doodles" daughter Katie, and Ryan

A clown's best side.

In the ring.

In the ring.

The brightest concession trailer ever.

Hula Hoops

Hula Hoops

Prospector gag

Prospector gag

Prospector gag

Prospector gag

Raoul the Juggler

Raoul the Juggler

Tony the clown.

Sink gag.

Sink gag.

Sink Gag.

See more of Steve and Ryan at their blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Backstage at Kelly Miller

That's one happy guy!

Had the extreme pleasure to join Steve Copeland backstage at Kelly Miller in Festus, Missouri last night. It was my little girl's seventh birthday, and she has loved circus and clowning since day one, so it was a great way to spend her birthday. I took a ton of pictures, which I'll put up shortly as I get them adjusted/resized for the Internets. We enjoyed the show thoroughly, from the first moment, from the greatest seats in the house. If we'd have been any closer, we'd have been sitting on the ring curb.

It's hard to pick a favorite from the show, but I enjoyed very much the better-than-mudshow quality of the clown gags, and the comic displays of "Tony" and his little poodle dressed in an Elephant suit. Cute, cute, cute bit, although I know it is common in Mexican circuses. "Tony" was also "Raul" who did the opening act, a juggling routine that was full of energy and a few surprises. Memorable moments also included the hula hoop girl (wow!) and the elephants, who were so huge and so close we could see their eyelashes. Armando Royale (animal trainer) looks like a good friend of mine, I figured out about halfway through the show. I liked how he worked with the elephants, he was very confident, and the elephants went through their paces with calm precision. Elephants are my favorite part of circus, for the most part (sorry, clowns!).

We had a GREAT time and this is a wonderful show. Yes, it was raining, and the back yard was a muddy mess of elephant prints and tire tracks, but the tent was sturdy and dry, and the small crowd was whooping it up during most of the acts. I spent enough money to more than make up for the free box seat tickets Steve got for us. And like most mud shows, the hard work of the performers and crew really make a difference in how a show runs. When they weren't helping to set up rigging for their performance, performers were doing face painting or helping with the different concessions. And after the show, I saw plenty of performers assisting in tear down, trash removal, and packing trailers for the next morning. It is truly a group effort on these small shows, and I am always impressed to see that kind of teamwork in action.

And, we ran into some local celebrities while we were there: Jessica Hentoff and clan were sitting behind us, enjoying the show as well.

You can check out Steve Copeland's daily circus blog for more day-to-day details of their travels with Kelly Miller. Fun read!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Route Cards March 31-April 12

If you don't see a circus listed that you want to know about, leave me a note in the comment section and I'll see what I can do. I'm focusing on Mudshows at the moment, but there is more info that I can share if you want it.

Kelly Miller

Redfield, AR Mar 31
Heber Springs, AR Apr 1
Ash Flat, AR Apr 2
Mt. Home, AR Apr 3-4
Ava, MO Apr 5
Houston, MO Apr 6
Potoso, MO Apr 9
Ironton, MO Apr 10

Cole Brothers

Ft. Mill, SC Mar 31
Wilmington, NC Apr 2-5
Havelock, NC Apr 6-7
Dudley, NC Apr 8-9
Greenville, NC Apr 10-11
Myrtle Beach, SC Apr 12-15

Carson and Barnes

Alamagordo, TX Apr 6
Phoenix, AZ Apr 10-12

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Route Cards March 23 and on

Route as I have found them:

Cole Brothers

Palm Coast FL March 23-24
Brunswick, GA Mar 25-26
Ladson, SC Mar 27-28
Wilmington NC April 2-5

Circus Vargus

Ontario CA now through Mar 19-30
Chino CA Apr 2-13

Hamid Circus

Harrisburg PA Mar 25-28
Wilkes-Barre Apr 13-18

Royal Hanneford

St. Charles MO Mar 25-29
Miami FL Mar 26-Apr 12

Kelly Miller

Bridgeport TX Mar 23
Royse City TX Mar 24
Athens TX Mar 25
Van TX Mar 26
Commerce TX 27
Hugo OK Mar 28
Idabel OK Mar 29
Murfreesboro AR Mar 30
Redfield AR Mar 31
Heber Springs AR Apr 1
Ash Flat AR Apr 2

Carson & Barnes

Irving TX Mar 23-24
Richardson TX Mar 25-26
Garland TX Mar 27-29
Bowie TX Mar 30
Brownwood TX Apr 1
Weatherford TX Apr 2
Allen TX Apr 3-5

Monday, March 09, 2009

RIP Alberto Zoppe 1922-2009

I had the amazing privilege and honor to shake this man's hand one time. It was at a performance of the Zoppe Family Circus at a local fair, sitting in the back with his lovely wife, watching his children perform in the family circus.

After the show, when I was talking to several of the performers, I was introduced to him, I was introduced to him.

To say he was a legend is an understatement. Father Zoppe ranks up there with the likes of the Wallendas. He was probably the greatest bareback rider that ever lived and worked in a circus. He appeared in at least one movie, and performed his entire life.

I have posted the PDF of Alberto's Eulogy, written by his lovely wife Sandy. You can see it here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Circus Routes

I hope to bring you this information every two weeks. I will include what I find out, which is difficult because most circuses won't share their route cards. Most mud shows are just now getting underway, although some have already been out for a few weeks (Kelly Miller has been out for more than three at this point).

Ringling Red
Newark NJ Mar 5-8
E. Rutherford NJ Mar 11-15
Uniondale, NY Mar 18-22

Ringling Blue
Cincinnati, OH Mar 4-8
Columbus, SC Mar 12-15
Washington DC Mar 18-22

Ringling Gold
Puerto Rico Mar 4-15

Big Apple
Atlanta GA through Mar 7
Bridgewater, NH Mar 14-29

Green Bay, WI Mar 6-8
Hamburg, NY Mar 19-22
Toledo, OH Mar 19-22

Atlanta GA through Mar 8
Raleigh, NC Mar 11-15
Richmond, VA Mar 18-22

Cole Bros.
Deland Fl through Mar 15

Circus Vargas
Del Mar CA Mar 5-9

Hamburg PA Mar 12-15
Harrisburg PA Mar 25-28

Royal Hanneford
St. Joseph MO Mar 6-8
Columbus OH Mar 19-22

Monday, February 23, 2009

Touchy-Feely Circus

Because I have a soft spot for causes related to disability (I work with disabled persons in my day job), whenever I run across an article with this kind of feel-good to it, I can't help but share.

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- An enormous Asian elephant stepped out from behind a big red curtain at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Atlanta, Georgia.
Eli Hummer, 3, gets to try out an oversized motorbike at the circus.

An audience of 20 pre-schoolers clapped and squealed as the elephant was handed a tiny harmonica and started playing.

But, instead of sitting far away in the stands, the children, all visually impaired, were just a few feet away from the action.

Among them was 3-year-old Eli Hummer.

"He doesn't see, so to learn about it, he has to touch it and be close to it," explained his mother, Martha Hummer.

She said being able to use the sense of smell, touch and sound helps her son understand the concept of a circus.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Steve and Ryan Do Kelly Miller

That just sounds incredibly dirty, doesn't it?

Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs are the clowns working for the Kelly Miller Circus this year. I had the pleasure of seeing Steve perform with Neal Skoy at the 40th Clown College Reunion in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in September 2008. They did the funniest Karate bit I've seen in a long time. I have nothing but respect for Steve's clowning. I have not had the pleasure of seeing Ryan perform, but I'm sure he's a class act all the way.

A bunch of us with ties to the circus community are excited to see such clowns getting a whole season's work. It is a huge change going from Big Bertha (Ringling) to a mud show, but each type of circus has its own value, and its own rewards.

Fortunately for all of us, Steve Copeland is a prolific blogger. He has started a blog just for his and Ryan's adventures with Kelly Miller. He blogs almost daily, and shares some pretty great background stuff on living on the circus. It's still the first week, but I'm enjoying it immensely. And in some cases, the comments to his posts are more entertaining and informative than the posts themselves!

I hope you'll go over and check it out.

Kelly Miller Back on the Road/The Death of Circus Chimera

Kelly Miller Circus, now in its second year of ownership by John Ringling North II, has embarked on its 2009 season. Their early start caught me off-guard, as they normally don't start touring until late March. It turns out that the early start of Kelly Miller had everything to do with the death of Circus Chimera.

After the cancellation of their 2008 season due to changes in the visa rules for temporary workers, they were apparently unable to recover, and are now no more. This saddens me, and many circus fans, around the country. Circus Chimera was a premier show, traveling with an international cast of both human and animal acts. Their tours were primarily centered in the west, spending much of their time in California. Their winter quarters, like many a mud show over the years, was in Hugo, Oklahoma.

So what does Chimera have to do with Kelly Miller? KM was able to purchase the tour dates that Chimera still held, allowing them to start more than a month early on their tour. Word has it that their first three days of shows have been more than sellouts, forcing Kelly Miller to add shows where possible.

This bodes well for mud shows this year, despite the loss of a major provider of shows. With the economy in the tank, luxuries are the first to go. While smaller towns are suffering as much as larger cities from the economic situation we are facing, there is still the need for fun, and circus fulfills that. I am hopeful that the rest of the season will be as wonderful for them, and for all of the mudshows that are out there traveling in these tough times.

If nothing else, most of the circuses will be thankful for the greatly reduced gas prices this year. Most traveling circuses were paying over $4 a gallon for gas; it's now half that or less. And when profits can increase for traveling shows, it is insurance for their future survival.

Kelly Miller was near my big city a couple of years ago, in late September, near the end of their season. I'm hoping this is my lucky year again. I'd love the opportunity to do my economic duty and support traveling circus.

Back on the Trapeze

I've been woefully neglectful of this blog of late. Several recent emails reminded me that I have an important resource going here, and I need to maintain it. So, with that in mind, I'm going to jump back into regular updates of this blog, which means at least one post a week.

I hope to bring new links in to circus blogs, publish tour dates as I get them, and talk about shows old and new. There are some terrific circus bloggers in the space, but there's always room for one more.

If you've been waiting for me to get back to business, I apologize for letting you down. If you're just finding me after doing a search for information, then welcome.

Onward and upward!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Circus Flora 36th Season

Circus Flora returns for its 36th season with a new show and attractions. “Medrano” opens June 5 and runs through June 21 at the Grand Center big top. “Medrano” takes place in 19th century Paris, a world populated by artists, writers, musicians, political exiles, Russian spies, Gypsies and diplomats. This year, Circus Flora will produce a peanut-free preview June 4, add a Friday matinee and host a barbeque June 14. Tickets cost $8 to $36 and will go on sale soon through Metrotix. For additional show and cast information, visit