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Wednesday, March 29, 2006 


Sometimes rain, and rumors of rain keep people at home,
indoors, even if the first showers don't arrive until
it's time to strike the tent. So it was in Hubbard on
Monday. On Tuesday (Gun Barrel City) two circuses
were playing only a handful of miles apart. That
happens some years when Carson & Barnes, the Kelly
Miller Circus, and the Culpepper-Merriweather Circus all
decamp Hugo around the same time. Soon enough things
sort themselves out. Kelly-Miller heads north and
east, while Culpepper rushes west to make California
before the really warm weather heats up the Central
Valley. Routing a circus is an imperfect science. As
long as there have been tent shows there have been
opposition difficulties when too many circuses are
competing for the same audience in the same town or
region. While some circuses play the same routes and
same towns every year, others are always on the lookout
for greener pastures. There have been seasons when
seven or more shows have squeezed into New England at
the same time, with only the "regulars" playing their
historic routes making any money. Other years the
contested ground could be in California, or in
Michigan. In Texas the Hugo shows aren't really in
conflict, but a few weeks each spring there just isn't
room enough for this much circus. It's great for fans
though. How often can you theoretically see three
circuses in three days? If you love the bigtop there's
no such thing as too many clowns.