Local youths and the young at heart can share a time-honored childhood experience today the circus has come to town!
The Carson and Barnes Circus set up shop at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds this morning with lions and tigers and elephants galore. Carson and Barnes promises acrobats and wild animal trainers are ready to thrill fans of all ages under the five-ring circus's "biggest big top on earth."
Spectators of all sizes were at the fairgrounds this morning to witness three of the circus's 21 elephants raise the football field-size tent.
The pre-show excitement tired out Weston Getto, 2. He did see the animals and watched the big top go up, but his grandparents had to take him home for a nap before the show began.
"He knows all the animals," Winnie Getto, Weston's grandmother, said. "He reads about the circus in books so it's exciting for him to get to see them."
MORE THAN 200 employees, including cooks, mechanics, electricians and set-up crew, travel with the circus. Most are from Mexico and South America, circus superintendent Neil Huff said.
Ninty-five performers ranging from 11- and 12-year-old trapeze artists Monica and Miriam Chimal to 82-year-old horse trainer Alfonso Loyal appear in the show.
The circus began its tour March 21 and will perform in a different town each day, seven days a week, until Nov. 14.
Huff said the circus was in Manhattan on Sunday and will head for Paola after its Lawrence shows.
"It takes us about three hours to set up the tent while everything else is going on - the elephant rides get going early, we feed the animals and get everything ready for the show," Huff said.
All the employees, including cooks and a medical specialist, travel with the circus in recreational vehicles.
"WE ALSO have a veterinarian on call who can diagnose any problem in an instant," Huff said.
Animal rights activists, Friends of Animals, made their concerns about the treatment of circus animals known by scattering pamphlets on animal abuse around the fairgrounds.
"The animals are what people come out to see, so we take good care of them," Huff said.
The animals will be on display at the fairgrounds this afternoon, and shows were scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. today.
Tickets are available at the Circus Box Office at the fairgrounds.