#1 KORA SHRINE CIRCUS
Hamid Circus, Inc
Augusta Civic Center
On Friday, April 22, I attended my 1st circus for 2011 at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Maine. The 58th Annual Kora Shrine Circus was produced by Jim Hamid of Hamid Circus, Inc. This Hamid Production is the best produced Shrine Circus in Maine.
The 1st performance at the Civic Center was at 2P.M. with a house of about 50%. Pre-show attraction was the Pages pony rides.
The circus started off with Intro by the Kora's Illustrious Potentate and than standing for the National Anthem. Just Larry (Clark) who just came off a 4 year tour with Ringling Brothers warmed up the audience. The prodigious philharmonic prelude by Larry Rothbard was next. Ringmaster Peter Sturgis entered the arena withan escort of show girls who introduced the first act of the afternoon. Flying Trapezee legend the Flying Pages. The catcher was Willie with flyers Victoria, Vonya and Anthony.
Next was the Pound Puppy Revue of Jennifer Walker and into Sir Karl (Winn) challenging chair balance, than a 2 rings of trampoline tornados with the Connors Family and Hansen Family. Just Larry with another round of laughter. Jennifer (Walker) McCoy with her sensational cloud swing. Rounding out the 1st half was the Winn's Motorcycle Incline wire featuring Karl and Natalia.
During the 20 minute intermission the Pages had the pony-go-round ride operating.
Starting off the second half was the Kora Shrine Clown and their Cannon Gag. This would be much better with a loud bang, but because of the Maine Fire Marshall rules it is cost prohibited to do a small bang because of public safety. Another Maine rip off. The second half overture by musical director Larry Rothbard and than the Jungle Fantasy with 4 lovely ladies performing in sync on the Spanish Web. Miss Natalia high in the rafter perform the Slide for Life to the floor on the incline wire. Once again Just Larry performed a plate spinning gag after picking a young girl out of the audience.
Now it was time for the Ringmaster to have the Circus Light Contest with the A & B sides of the auditorium. The "B" side was the winner. Just by looking at the light up toys you can see just how much is made with the novelties.
Up next was the Shooting Stars (The Pages) with their Russian Swing Act. The Hamid Circus Shrine Elephant, Anna Louise (African) the dancing elephant was next under the direction of Tom Demery. A one of a kind, class act with No Hooking and only one prop for the elepant. Tremdious elephant act. Karl and Natalia climbs to the top of the super sway pole for the featured act of the show. The final was the 2 performers switching poles high above the audience and then decenting to the floor head first on the slender pole. After this death defying act it was time to bid a fabulous fond farewll with the entire cast. Until next year, "May All Your Days Be Circus Days".
Programs were sold for a "Donation". Some Shrine Clubs has found that they make more money for a donation than selling them for big money. Their is more circus information in this program than many other Shriners have in theirs. Kora's program is well worth the donation. This years program had the schedule of acts right on compared to others who change the line up at each event.
What makes this this production top notch is the lighted ring curb, rope lights hanging from the rafters, colorful floor covering, and much more little stuff that gives this production a theatrical experience. Not a show that looks like it was produced 50 years ago. Hamid Production is class.
#2 ANAH SHRINE CIRCUS
Royal Hanneford Circus Productions
On Saturday afternoon, April 30, I attended the 2P.M. performance of the Anah Shrine Circus produced by the Royal Hanneford Circus Productions of Sarasota, Florida. Attendance for this performance was about 60% of the capacity. Ticket price at the door was $10 and $5 discount was givin if bought prior to show date.
Prior to the show the Anah Klowns shot balloons into the audience. The Bangor Band played as the audience came into the arena for this performance.
The ring was filled with 45 shrine klowns and a local lady sang the National Anthem the way it should be sung. The Illustrious Potantate spoke and than it was time to start the show with Ringmaster Charlie Van Buskirk introducing Susan Sheryll's Royal Afghan Champions. This is a class act with top props even the dogs seating prop was lighted. Than came the only aerial act of the show with Kim Sue and Vlastik who performed their Vella Duo's cradel. The geometric manipulators Stoyne and Daria with spinning cubes,triangle etc. The Quick Change of Elena and Christian was next. They did many changes in a fresh new quick change act. Olena Deshko was next with her hula hoop routine. Out comes Roger who tells Kim Sue that the International Trampoline Artist has not come back from Walmart so he takes over for them. The audience just loves this act. Ending the first half of this performance was the Fernandez with their double space wheel (wheel of destiny).
Starting the second half off was the Bertini Family of Kim Sue and Vlastek and kids on their uni-cyles. Than it was Tony and Daria as the Los Ritmos Gouchos. The Shrine Klowns perform their new number that is a take off the knife throwing act. It's time for the Bilea's and the Russian Barre. I have seen this act many times and I have never scene them have a miss. Coming up next was Ole Kartukel with his World's Strongest Man routine. Last time I saw this act was in New York last October on Sir Arthur's (Dutchek) Circus. The last act of the show was David Zoppe's Rhesus Monkeys. Top quality act with many props styling the ring. Rounding out the performance was all performers walking out in a patriotic salute.
This was a quality show with excellant acts but my feelings is this is not a real 2 ring circus, only 1 ring had a curb, and only 1 ring was used at a time. The sound system was bad as some places you could not hear or understand the announcements that was being made. This show needs the extra styling theatrics to make this an entertaining show. The Anah Shriners who provides one ring curb and the sound and lighting needs to get into the modern era instead of the 60's. Showmenship is the name of the game. The audience needs FLASH, FLASH and more FLASH. The biggest complaint is no animals so why should we come. Spend some money to get what the people want or you may even see more of a decrease in your crowds. The performers has to make a living and can't do it just for fun. Another stickler that I have is the Anah Shrine progam has 300 pages and only 2 pages on the circus and that is a list of the performers in the show not even in order of the show and cost $2 for a book of all ads which already has paid for the cost of printing and than sum. Compare this to the Kora Shrine program of 100 pages and 14 pages dedicated to circus related items and only cost $ DONATIONS. More Shrine's are going to donation instead of a fix price as they end up with more money in the long run. Anah Shriner's bring your circus back to the days of 90% houses every show.
The crowds leave for the parking lot after the 2PM performance. Look at the money that was spent on novilties. Most of the novilties comes from Rhode Island Novelties.
After the performance, the performers head back to the lot that has most of the campers. Some walk, some ride.
#3 WALKER BROTHERS
On my way to do a show in PA, I stopped at the Great Brockton Fair in Brockton, Mass. I spotted the Walker Brothers Show set-up and parked in the infield. It waswell hidden from the crowds as it was off the beatten travel path of fair goers with not big signs to direct any one to the show. The performance I saw had a small crowd probally because most did not know where it was.
A few new acts were added to this years performance along with some of the standard acts including Pablo doing his juggling and Michele Jackson impersonation and the return of Jason Walker as Ringmaster. George was the only worker left from previous years and he was still working with the ponies.
#4 New Jersey State Fair at the Meadowlands
#5 BAT COPTER RIDES
While at the New Jersey State Fair at the Meadowlands I watched the landing and take-off of the Bat Copter who was giving rides piloted by Eugene Nock of the Nock Family circus performers. The ride in the Bat Copter was up and around the fairgrounds and back with up to 3 persons per ride. I think he was the highest working attraction at the fair.
Coming back from my trip a few days earlier from Florida I past the Bat Copter many times from Ga thru VA. Now I see where it was headed.
#6 BOB MOYERS WAMBOLTS CIRCUS MENAGERY
Bob Moyer presented his Wambolt's Animal Menagera Circus at the County Fair in Freeport, Illinois. It was a sidewall type show at this location and during non-performance times the animals were on display. Featured was Bob's ligers.
#7 GARCIA FAMILY CIRCUS
Cobleskill Sunshine Fair
I got to the Cobleskill Sunshine Fair a day early and I cought the last performance of the day of the Garcia Family Circus which was a free attraction. A nice looking tent but the front end was burried behind a new car exhibit on one side and another stand on the left. The entrance was thru the side of a trailer with the exits on both sides of the tent. This was my first time to see the set-up but I have sceen the show loaded and parked in Wisc years ago.
Seating was on metal stadium chairs and the ring was more of an elevated stage. Jamie Garcia was the Ringmaster and during the show he performed a couple of magic acts. One that he did at all performances was a cigerette gag. He was amazing with this magical act..
All acts was of a family member from the show girls number opening to hula hoops by Kelsy, to the wheel of destiny by Jarko, or a 2 cycle motorcycle globe. Both of these acts were so / so but the intro of the globe was the cycles would jump up onto the stage than ride down into the globe. They did one or the other at the different shows. The featured act was a small human cannonball cannon act. At times the pyro would not go off and Jamie would alibi that if it did not go off , that the cannon was built to be set off by 2 means powder charge or phuenmatic all depends if there was a loud bang.
At times Jamie would talk way to much with his hispanic accent. This would take up the time instead of having additional acts that could have been used to take up the time to run the time limit that he must do for the fair. Each show was approx 45 minutes. My first show I saw ran 35 minutes to a 90% house. The audience loved the show.
In the beginning of the run at the fair one of Jamie sons would walk the outside of the Powers Great American Midway's Gondola Wheel. The act was stopped by the New York Dept of Labor for Safety Regulations which in my opinion is a bunch of bull as I have sceen Jamie perform this many times thru out the 20+ years that I have worked the fair circuit.
#8 Jim & Tapa Hall's Bears
West End Fair
While at the West End Fair I watched the Hall's Bear performance who had a large crowd watching. they were performing numerous shows per day next to the main grandstand where I was performing that night with the Hell Drivers Show.
#9 FLYING PAGES (Jill's Unit)
Great Stoneboro Fair
On Sunday afternoon I stopped work for awhile to come over to the infield area of the Stoneboro Fair to watch the Flying Pages (Jill's Unit) in an overcast and damp day. This was an open air sidewall show which started with the flyers taking to the flying apparatus. Flyers were Jill Page, April Brown and Kristan Findley with Justin Jupiter Chodkowski the lower catcher. On the high pearch it was Eric Craft the catcher with Mercedes Page who was doing double duty of being the ringmistress and flyer. This was an exciting act with out any misses. The next act was a hula hoop presentation with Mercedes. A fabulous Russian Swing act ended this fair production. The Swing Act was one of the classiest acts that I have seen with all girl flyers. After the presentation Jill and Kristan was giving pony cart rides. That evening after their last show all the performers came over to watch the Hell Drivers Show. This was Jill's first time to see some of the stunts that I do as it has been many years of knowing the Pages who never knew exactly what I did. After the show the crew went over to the circus lot and had a bit to eat and along jack pot session as Tonny Petersen whos name was on our show was a circus performer for many years and knew the European performers and more.
#10 NONO'S CLOWN CIRCUS
Vermont State Fair
My first show of the day was the 4 member NONO's Clown Circus at the Vermont State Fair. A great looking set-up out doors as a sidewall show. I can't find my notes for this performance but this was the kind of shows that has things set up and don't use them everyshow. A wheel of destiny was set up but not used at this performance. Two clowns of NO Joe and Toot was the stars of this show.
#11 GALAXY GIRL
Vermont State Fair
An hour later after after seeing the NONO'S Clown Circus and Terry Frisco and his exotic cat act it was to the far end of the fairgrounds to catch the dynamicc Galaxy Girl (Tina Winn) on the 127 ft sway pole. A damp cool day she still performed for the small crowd on the grounds. The announcer for her act was Johnny Rocket. After desending down the pole it was Tina's turn to take over on the mic to introduce the next act of the Cybertron with Johnny Rocket and Ashley Winn. Performing high above the crowd with a motorcycle and trapezee which went round and round on the steel platform a speedway in the air. A spectacular act which is now done by many other performers thru out the world. The crowd that was presented was impressed by this performance of the Galaxy Girl.
#12 CIRCUS HOLLYWOOD
Vermont State Fair
I thought this was going to be my first show of the day but mother nature had other things in mind as this show was cancelled for the 1 o'clock show because of the wetness inside of the big top. This area was devastated by the Hurricane that went thru and the heavy rain from Labor Day. The show was the biggest hit of the 2011 State Fair and was set up in the infield. This was a tipical Serge Corona Show. A small crowd because of the weather but it was about 50% of the seating capacity for the 4 o'clock show. The one act that was not done was Stevie's Horse Act . Some of the acts was Flipper the clown who sold clown noses for a $1, Krista's Poodles, Nicolette on the ring, a lite pitch by Serge, Christa's Hula Hoop, Act Strap Act by Adrian Kristina's mix animal revue of 2 camels, 2 limas and 1 horse and a coloring book pitch. The final was a 2 cycle Globe of Death with Sergie and Alex riders and Krista standing in the middle. An excellant show for all fair goers to see.
Also during my visit to the Vermont State Fair I saw the minature carnival set-up of the Knipes Circus and Circus Model builder and CFA exhibit of Bob Sugerman.
#13 ROYAL HANNEFORD CIRCUS
The York Fair
On Sunday, Sept 18, I took time off to go to see the Royal Hanneford Circus building show at the Great York Fair to a SRO crowd. Billy Martin was the Ringmaster and show director of this unit had the best show that I have sceen there. Cast included Angela Martin, the Bertini's, Joanne Wilson, Ole Kartukel and Oleana Deshko. What made this show a standout was the 2 cycle gloobe of death and Shawn the Human Cannon Baller.
In the room next to the circus area members of the CMB had the room lined with many minature circus and carnival models and posters. A great set-up with many, many spectators walking thru the exhibits.
Later on that evening many of the performers came over to watch part of the Tonny Petersen Hell Drivers Show that I was performing for. The circus was going head to head with our show on the last half hour.
#14 BIG E SUPER CIRCUS
Royal Hanneford Circus Productions
Eastern States Exposition
West Springfield, MA
On Tuesday the 27th it was time for the Big E's Coca Cola Super Circus produced by Wayne McCary under the Royal Hanneford Big Top of Struppi Hanneford. But first thing of the day's schedule was the Wayne McCary CFA Tent Luncheon which was attended by 30 + members and guest. At the head table was Bily and Angela Martin and the Luncheons Special Guest Struppi Hanneford who was celebrating her Birthday. After the luncheon it was off to the far end of the fairgrounds to see the 1PM performance of the circus in a reserved seating area for the CFA members and guest.
This year it was a Super Spectcular Circus featuring comic daredevil clown, Bello Nock. The ringmster was former Ringling ringmaster Ty McFarlan and musical director Larry Strout. Bello started the show by his coming out in his bouncing cube than he inflated and bounced around bringing the house down. Other acts during the show was Alexandrias Net Trapeze, the Olate Dogs, juggling extraordinaire Picasso, Jr., and 4 Miller Elephants under the direction of Tim Frisco. The featured performer was Bello on the Wheel of Destiny.
#15 BELLO NOCK'S WIRE WALK
Eastern States Exposition
West Springfield, MA
At 3PM in front of the Hanneford Big Top a one time only fabulous death-defying sky walk on the slender silver wire between the tent towers by the one and only BELLO NOCK. If you are a conasaur of the circus and looked up to the top of the tent you could see the Big E.s President Wayne McCary holding the wire tight for the walk. This was by far a higher and longer walk than the one I saw years ago on Circus Smirkus's New Tent in Barton, VT performed by their tent boss Nino Zoppe. My hat off to Bello who performed this walk at the Big E for all the Circus Fans who was on the grounds this day.
#16 GALAXY GIRL
Eastern States Exposition
West Springfield, MA
On Tuesday I watched 2 performances of the Galaxy Girl at the Big E in West Springfield, Mass She performed high in the air on her 127 foot apparatus of a trapeze and to the top on her sway pole. Crowds could see her thru out the fairgrounds which was set up on the left side of the Court of Honor Stage.
#17 FLYING WALLENDA'S
Once again Tino Wallenda and family presented his outdoor Flying Wallenda's Circus at the Deerfield New Hampshire Fair. I attended the 12:30 show on Thursday. It had been raining all morning but had stopped prior to show time. The show was cut a little because of the rain and wet ground but went on like real troupers., "The show must go on!". Tino was the clown Rudolpho who opened the pre show. It was Alex and Trevor who did their juggling routine, David Rosair with his Perky Pugs then it was Tino on the wet high wire with daughter Aureila. A real trouper Tino walking on the wire let alone carring Auriela on his shoulders into a two person high walk. Because of the conditons the Wallendas 4 high was not performed Sasha, Alex and Trevor was grounded for this performance. Just as the show was ending, Father Jerry was coming in thru the back gate with hot chowder for Tino and Family.
#18 RINGLING BROTHERS
On Friday my day started off by going to a carnival and then headed to the Verizon Center in Manchester, NH for the Ringling FUNUNDRUM performance at 7PM. It was first the Father Hogan CFA Tent Meeting and luncheon at the Verizon Center than the pre-show and now the start of the Show. This was one of the best Ringling Brothers Shows in years. I have one thing to say is that there is a lack of comunications between the building and the circus mangement as they should get together on. The show tells everyone that the all access pre-show starts 1 hour before the performance begins which was at 7 which it did. But the problem I see is the doors didn't open until 6:15 which is only 45 minutes until show time. Who is at fault or does no one care when these patrons pay the big bucks for the show.
Some of the hi-lites of the show was the Sky-high Ice Gliders who was a high wire act that took on a new level of wire walking on a movable wire. A fantastic trampoline act by the Puyang in the People's Republic of China called the Barnum Bouncers. The 7 person Flying Caceres looked good with their flying trapeze act of 2 different traps in one area. The teetorboard act of the Trupe Fantasy was one of the best that I have scene in years on any circus. Alex Petrov and Gleice Ribeiro Gillet motorcycle incline wire was so / so as their are so many cycle incline wire acts around. The one thing I can say is that the cycle was shinny and looked great.
The 7 cycle motorcycle globe act of the Torres Family is one of the best that has toured in the US in years and the Russian Barrie Bar was one of the best that I have scene of the Asadulin Troupe which used more than one bar at a time. Darriel Raffo had a nice looking tiger act which was a little show. Other acts that was lost when up to 4 was presented at one time included: Duo Fusion, Bionic Brothers, Ulaanbaatar Ballerina and the Balancing Body Bouncers. Animal acts included Andre McClain and Vickie Zslilak. The ringmaster for this unit of Ringling was Johnathan Lee Iverson. The ringmaster for the all-access pre-show was handled by Andre McClain. The elephants was handled by Joe Frisco and his crew.
# 19 Bello Nock Circus
Lowell Municipal Auditorium
I started my day off at 5:30AM and drove to Lowell, Mass to see the premier performance of the Bello Nock Circus at the Lowell Minicipal Auditorium.
Prior to the 2 PM shows performance I talked to a lot of performers and the help including: Bello, Eggroll, Tino Wallenda, Smiley, Mercury Morgan, Jenny and many more. Also present was Father Hogan who has a parrish near by in Andover.
The show schedule to start at 2 o'clock but started 10 minutes late. Opening the show was Bello bouncing in with his cube coming out in his inflatable suit routine. Next was a lyria act than Bello performing his trampoline number. Chair balancing act was next which only went up 5 chair high. The chairs was next used in a 6 person (5 males from the audience) musical chair number. After elimanating one person it was the 4 person sitting than pulling out the chairs from under each with the help of Ringmaster John Kennedy Kain. The invisible dog Spot was next with the help of Bello. After the invisable dog it was the magic card trick of the ringmaster. Juggling by a young juggler from NY City with hats and balls. I met him a few years prior when he was working with Cirkus Zoppe. During the ball presentation there was way to many drops. To end the first half of the presentation it an aerial routine of Bello and the bungy leap trap act.
After a 20 minute intermission the show started with the high-wire act with 1 male and 1 female walker and Bello. Rolla Bolla was next, one of the best bolla acts in the country. Bello with comedy relief of a young lady coming out of the audience to help out with the bow and arrow balloon. A contorsion number was next. The teetor board act with 3 boys from the audience came up. It was Bello and his break-a-way board number. At the end Bello gave each boy a balloon but the third boys balloon came loose and floated to the ceiling. Bello sat the third boy down by the Lamp Pole. Than it was the final of the performance of Bello performing on his lamp pole (sway ploe) while retreiving a balloon from the rafters. After retreiving the balloon, Bello came down the pole head first and the big farewell from all performers. Giant balloons were releast for everyone to toss around the seating area of the auditorium. Bello and the Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane walked up the center isle hand shaking to the exit where they both signed autographs. As the crowd was exiting their was pitching coloring book and posters for sale. They were swamped. During the entrance and at intermission face painting and numerous novilties along with cotton candy etc for sale.
The premier performance was approx 2 hour and 10 minute long.
This was one of the best indoor stage shows that I have scene that was a real circus presentation with no lulls. No pitches during the show,. Great lighting. The only bad thing was the sound where I was sitting in the balcony. As the voices could not be heard clearly. If and when this show comes to your town you sure don't want to miss it as it is only going to get better.
The crowd was small with the weathermen predicting a severe snow storm with heavy snow I can understand that many patrons did not come out. As I left there was big wet snow flakes flying around.
Thank-you! Bello for a great show and now I am off to see another circus about an hour from Lowell.
#20 Moody Street Circus
American Legion Post #
The evening of Oct. 29 I attended the last performance of the Moody Street Circus produced by Melinda & Sasha Pavlata and sponsored by the American Legion Post #440 in Newton, Mass. The show was located under the Big Top.
A small hardy audience came out in a wet and snowy evening to watch a small troup of professional circus performers that put on a wonderful presentation.
As the audience started to arrive they were entertained to Phil Marsch with his folk ballard childrens music. At 7 PM Ringmistress Kim Sue came out and intoduced us to the Moody Street Circus and than the show started out with a dancing girl Sara Cabral. Than it was the cradel act of Kim Sue and Vlasic. A double aerial hoop act was next that looked like a mother and daughter act of Zoe & Melinda. Sasha came out dressed as an old timer and did a routine with a water bottle and glass while reading a paper 3 girls, Zoe would steal his water from the glass. A single hoop, hula hoop dancing act with Celia. Than Miss Una Mimnagh performed a rope act called Corde Lisse. Melinda with Belly Dancing with contosion was next will balancing a tray of candles. Roger on the trampoline took down the house, than it was a silk routine with 2 young girls, Sasha took to the stage with a comedy routine of an Apple on The head of a female. Sword balancing contorsion act of Melinda was up and than it was Sasha's Cloud Swing. Sasha performed feats on the Cloud that I have never scene before. He was all smiles as he was having fun on what he loves to do.
In my memories I forgot to mention that another act that was presented was the Bertini's unicycles . A great act featuring 7 year old Vincent. During the act his younger sister was in a stroller sitting by the heater and would clap for the act and also other acts that she would see performing. She knows show business already. This was a great execution and theatrics in this performance. The show ran approx 1 hour 20 minutes with no intermission. This was a well kept tent that did not have holes in the top. The pavement was wet as the rain and snow from outside was running thru the tent and the dampnest from the weather could be scene on the inside of the tent.
Everyone enjoyed the last performance of the run at the Legion.
(Names were taken off their website)
In 2011 I also saw 3 sideshows set up. Shows included Ward Hall at 2 fairs York and Butler, PA, Jim Zijeck in Crown Point, Indiana plus the show in Zanesville, Ohio.
Also in 2011 I misssed these shows because I was working or I did not have the funds to go to them. These shows included the 3 parks of the Royal Hanneford, Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisc., Circus City Festival Circus in Peru, Ind, Circus Smirkus, Shrine shows in Wilmington and West Springfield, Mass., Cole All-star Circus, Kelly Miller, The New Ringling Show, Shows at the Champlain Valley Fair in Essex Jct, Vt. (I would have made these shows but the show I was working with was cancelled because of the Hurricane), the Lewis & Clark show, Big Apple Circus in Boston, Circus Vasques in New York, Universoul in New Haven and Willies Unit of the Flying Pages in Doylestown, PA ( I drove to Doylestown on Sat. but the whole Octoberfest location was closed because of the weather and lot being wet.)