It has been many years since I?ve gone to the circus. Things have changed dramatically. Perhaps due to the global economy downsizing, the three-ring circus ended up being two! Not to worry though, all bases were covered with a full show.
On Monday, July 27 the town was a buzz with the novelty of a new kind. Over 300 people swarmed into the hockey arena in Tumbler Ridge to see the show, which would travel next to Mackenzie, Vanderhoof and then Burns Lake. Following the completion of a circuit in the Peace, the entourage of semi trucks and RV?s will then head back through the US to Lousiana.
The build up to this event was exciting for young children and some of the adults who were clearly brought back to being joyful kids themselves. An inflatable water slide, snow cone and candy floss booths, laser sticks and inflatable animals all added the circus ambience to convert the hockey arena into the Big Top for one night.
When I was a kid, we had monkeys on a stick. Now they have inflatable dolphins. Instead of a mini-car overloaded with clowns, there was a Maestro who involved the kids in his makeshift orchestra.
Circus owner Jody Jordan is third generation in this industry and Ringmaster Ari Steeples has been with this particular circus for the past 12 years. The rest of the crew consists of 18 performers, with three bears, elephants and nine dogs. No more lions, tigers or big cats of any kind. Although these extraordinary beasts were all a part of the ?old circus?, I must admit that even as I knelt on the floor to take photographs, the elephants were monstrous in size and I was nervous one might suddenly decide to break from his routine.
The circus of today is far less elaborate and glitzy. It seems to be more scaled towards what is current with young people, which of course it must cater to. It was strange for me though, to see motocross bike acts as opposed to high voltage trapeze acts. Not to slight the moto-cross act, as it was quite impressive. One by one, motorbikes made their way up a ramp and into a huge metal mesh sphere. They zigzagged and went upside down and chased each other inside of the sphere, with great timing and execution.
For additional entertainment, there were photo ops for the elephant rides, poodle photos and a photo with a bear. The bear ate copious amounts of raisin cereal, fed to him by the Ringmaster. People sat beside the bear with their young children! Have no fear, a clear plexi-glass partition slid between bear and a food source was ever present.
The set up for this event takes around five hours, according to Jordan and the tear down is about three hours. The crew were loading animals during the grand finale, which was danced by all of the ?human? performers. By the time the Ringmaster had prompted the last of the applause, the animals seemed to be all packed up and leaving.
Jordan confirmed that they never plan to stay the night in the same town they finished the performance in. The RV?s house the performers and off they go into the night. Another town, another happy crowd and as a very tired owner sat leaned against a trailer, he warmly thanked me for interviewing him/ Back into reality I went, after a magical departure in our community. Maybe next time they will have the monkey on a stick.