Wednesday, May 31, 2006 

Rock Springs, WY. 100 miles. 70 F. Perfect circus weather. The early American Circus was more than just a form of entertainment. The circus aspired to astound and educate as well, to spark debate and awe. (We still do.) For every fakery offered by Phineas T. B. the traveling sideshows and museums attached to the circus offered a dozen objects of true natural curiosity. !9th Century American sought enlightenment, debate, and education in a open forum no longer encountered in more modern times. A few miles from Rock Spings the Flaming Gorge a fossil bed of spectacular proportions provided the backdrop for one of the more unusual 19th Century philosophical and scientific feuds. For 20 years, roughly from 1870 to 1890 two American naturalists, O.T. Marsh of Yale, and Edward Drinker Cope of Haverford College waged what became known as the Bone Wars, across the vast landscape of the America West. From the Bones Wars arose the modern science of paleontology. The cost to both men was enormous, and their animosity knew no boundaries. Marsh was the heir to the vast Peabody fortune. In his pursuit of fossils he would he expend his entire worth, E. D. Cope, perhaps the greatest of all American scientists would sacrifice everything in his efforts to one up Marsh. Between them they would describe dozens of the dinosauriia that still populate the imaginations of our children. And ironically, when all was said and done, the reputations of both men would be eclipsed by another bone digger who came to visit the Flaming Gorge, Mr Barum Brown of the American Museum of Natural history, named of course for the circus man who ignited so many imaginations. (By the way, Cope got the last laugh. When the time came fpr taxonomists to describe the human species Homo Sapiens, t’was Cope’s skull in museum finery that came to represent our kind.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 

Evanston, WY. Jump 80 miles. Sunny, 60 F. Perfect circus weather

The jump across the Wasatch Front, the western edge of the Rocky Mountains landed us on our first real grass lot since East TX. A mudshow looks its best on a green lot. Tomorrow we play Rock Springs, then Rswlins, then Laramie.

Monday, May 29, 2006 


Ogden 60 Sunshine. Tomorrow we move towards the East

Sunday, May 28, 2006 

Ogden, UT. 38 degrees. Snow, sleet, rain. It wouldn't be a circus, or at least a mudshow if the weather wasn't crazy. Consider this -- two weeks ago we were playing in heat in excess of 100 degrees F. This morning the bigtop is covered in white flakes, the lot littered with piles of slush.

Saturday, May 27, 2006 

Ogden, UT 120 mile jump. Cold, rain. We are in Ogden at the Newgate Mall for a three day holiday schedule. Shows today at 1:30. 4:30, 7:30, and tomorrow and Monday at 1:30 and 4:30. From the heat of the late Spring Sonora desert we have climbed into the cold of mountains. Snow level tonight is down to 6000 feet. From Ogden everything changes, though few people on the show will immediately notice. We begin to move east as we cross into Wyoming. We will continue east through September when we reach the Hudson River in Upstate New York. Summer is comi8ng and the rich heart of the circus season is ahead of us. when next we change direction again, southbound the end of the season will be clearly in sight.



Nephi, UT Warm and windy. 170 mile jump. The circus is a society that lives by its mobility. Like other nomadic societies, gypsies, or travelers, or carnivals the circus is a world of two faces. The public face bedecked in spangles, and the private faces behind the bigtop where individuals and families live out their daily lives celebrating successes and mourning loss. The circus is rarely glamorous. The days are either too hot, too cold, too wet, or too windy. Nobody gets rich in the circus business. For many the circus has been a way of life for generations, for others it’s a love that can’t be denied, for a few its an escape or a hiatus from another life that just didn’t work out.. On the circus you are with it and for it, supporting the show despite the fatigue and the long hours and the low pay and any gripes you many have with the management. You remain with it and for it for the few moments when everything comes together and magic happens.

Then you wander to a trailer or a sleeper or a bunkhouse and in the dawn on a new lot you reinvent the show over and over again. Maybe only the elephants remember yesterday. Jackpots aside the circus relentlessly chases tomorrow. We live and work here and tell our tales. When we blow the show we are forgotten and only our stories remain beneath a summer sky on a hard lot where the stake driver breaks the morning’s quiet in the next town.

Thursday, May 25, 2006 

Cedar City UT. 60 mile jump. 80 degrees. Some days one has to wonder if a circus was ever a thing of the southern west? Yesterday sitting in the show of a red rock cliff in southern Utah even the biggest bigtop in the world was dwarfed by the country that surrounded the show. Circuses have ventured west from the early days of the railroads, and the high plains welcomed even the biggest shows as homesteaders took a respite from the land to sit beneath the canvas. But in the canyon lands the circus seems somehow alien, evn as the crowds rush in to the fill the tent in places that haven’t seen a three ring show in a decade. Maybe it’s the dirt lots. A circus looks best on a background of green. Tomorrow we jump north toward the valley of the Salt Lake, and then to Ogden. From Ogden we stretch to Wyoming. In two weeks we’ll be in Nebraska, territory held for decades by the early Ringling Bros. Show. Soon enough we will be in the east where a big circus is dwarfed by nothing on the landscape not built by man. So goes a season.

PS: Third show added in Cedar City

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 

St George, UT 96 Sunny. We made the 160 mile jump from Page, AZ yesterday morning for a two day stand in St George. Great crowds. The Rotary Club here makes for a wonderful host. The local newspaper put us on the front page this morning.

Read it here

Monday, May 22, 2006 


Page, AZ. 130 mile jump. Windy. Navajo Hopi country. Perched on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon the wind is blowing at 35 miles an hour and the sand is shifting like something out of the movies. From Williams, AZ on Thursday we jumped 90 miles to Winslow, then sixty miles back into Flagstaff for a beautiful weekend in a county park. PETA activists approached the city of Flagstaff seeki9ng a circus ban and citing their usual dishonest “facts.” The city of Flagstaff declared that such draconian measures were up the people of the community. The people voted with their feet and the shows were well attended. A small of group of protestors was entirely ignored and ultimately banned from the park as traffic impedance. A week earlier in Phoenix the Arizona Republic reported that one PETA organizers had emailed supporters actively encouraging them to lie in attacking circus. The actual facts are simple; this circus supports the conservation of endangered species. PETA sometimes appears to oppose many forms of conservation. In fact on Saturday one activist phrased it like this, “Extinction is natural.” The kind of moral certainty is frightening. Imagine public policy based on the notion that maintaining bio-diversity is no big deal.

From Page we will jump into Utah. Over the next three weeks we’ll make many long jumps as we leave the Far West and move toward the heartland.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 





Williams, AZ. Jump – 93 miles – mountains. Overcast and almost cool.

It takes an elephant to raise a bigtop.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 

From Phoenix we jumped 25 miles to suburban Cave Creek, then today we jumped another 90 miles to Cottonwood. The temperature abated in the high desert and here we fond perfect circus weather and big audiences ready to enjoy it. Tomorrow it's another 100 miles to Williams in the mountains west of Flagstaff. On Saturday in in Phoenix a wire walker fell from a ladder fracturing her ankle. Today she hobbled about the lot with aid of a walker. Circus can be dangerous business and few people realize the risks that performers take twice each day. In the backyard no forgets the risk, but it's to laugh than it is to worry.

Monday, May 15, 2006 

Phoenix. Day Four. 100F

From Aaron:

Hello Circus fans. So far its 8 weeks from Hugo to Phoenix. Things are going great. People are coming to the show and having a great time. I see many people coming to the show who pay for the whole seat but they only use the edge. Kids are buying their cotton candy and sno cones (circus traditionals) and laughing at the clowns more than ever. So far everything is picking up. We are going to have a bang up year thanks to all of you. We hope to see you in Flagstaff this weekend.

Sunday, May 14, 2006 

Phoenix. Day Three. 103F. In the extreme heat of the desert southwest, in the valley in Arizona in mid-May circus is for after sundown. Only the brave venture out for afternoon shows, but come evening the tent is filled with families lingering long after the blow off to ride the camels, and elephants, and ponies, to see the giant snakes, or just because they aren't quite ready to leave.

On Tuesday we'll jump to Cave Creek, then climb the mountains to dates near Flagstaff. It's cooler there and we won't miss the heat.

Friday, May 12, 2006 


Phoenix, AZ. 105F. Twenty-six mile jump from Gilbert through urban traffic. We’re four days at the indoor Swap Mart on 27th. Saturday and Sunday shows at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30. Some days even the last big tented circus in the west runs afoul with plumbing. Who would have thought that anybody would put a 4” water main eighteen inches beneath an asphalt parking lot? One tent stake and half the block went dry until noon. It’s circus, some things you just can’t know.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 

Gilbert, AZ. 103F. Tucson to Casa Grande was a 60 mile jump to a dirt lot on a fairgrounds eight miles outside town for a two day stand. Raul Gomez, long a fixture on Circus Flora stopped by the lot.

Today we moved to Gilbert, suburban Phoenix for another two days before moving into the city itself. Shows here are at 4:30 and 7:30. Dress for warm weather.

Sunday, May 07, 2006 

From Aaron.

We have just completed the sixth week of our 2006 season. From El Pao to Tucson we’ve had our share of annoyances` but overall it’s been an exciting week. The benefit to being ringmaster on the Carson & Barnes Circus in it’s 70th season is that everyone tells me what they think of the show. They love it. When I’m standing outside people want to shake my hand and talk with me. It’s humbling. The connection I seem to make with the audience is still a mystery to me. I’m 21 years old and I know that the performers, the prop crew, and the dozens of behind the scenes people are the folks who make the circus work, even if the audience seems to want to give me the credit. To hear their voices under the bigtop, to see their faces is a kind of magic. I get my energy from the audience, and of course from the readers of this blog.




Tucson, AZ. Very, very hot. Forecast calls more heat all through the coming week. Not a big surprise in Arizona. This is our third day in Tucson. Towners seem to know that the afternoon is not the best time to sit in a big tent, so they come out for the later shows.

With the layover in Tucson we’ve had a few days to make some changes on the midway snake show. Added another albino python and some smaller snakes and some spiders. Working on a new grind. One that’s done we can think about pictures.

Tomorrow we jump 70 miles to Casa Grande. Only three jumps into Phoenix. That’s probably good news with the price of fuel here in AZ.

Saturday, May 06, 2006 


Tucson. Very hot. No jump today. It might have been a great morning for sleeping late were it not for the rooster across the street who awakened at 4:40 in the morning. So goes when there are new neighbors almost every day.

Friday, May 05, 2006 


Tucson, AZ. Hot. The 75 mile jump from Sierra Vista was easy, mostly interstate highway. Leaving yesterday’s at 5:30 am we were on the lot in Tucson by 7:00 am. We’re at the rodeo grounds for three days. A restaurant down the street still has a Circus Chimera poster in the window, though that show was here in March.

The popularity of “circus arts” as a form of gymnastics has created a market for expensive cirus equipment. A circus arts school may spend thousands of dollars for the standing rigging used to teach single trapeze, or stationary trap, or the Spanish web. Out behind the bigtop where we all live fifty dollars worth of water pipe, a couple pulleys, and some nylon rope is all that it really takes to teach the next generation of performers. Stakes cut from ½ inch rebar, a little imagination, before you know it, circus happens.

Thursday, May 04, 2006 


Sierra Vista, AZ. Perfect circus weather. Sixty mile jump from Douglas north to Sierra Vista. Tomorrow we move into Tucson for three days at the rodeo grounds over the Cinco de Mayo weekend. Coming out of Bisbee the route was arrowed in two directions. Our route sheet said to take 90, but an earlier show Circus Chimera had obviously atekn another road to get to the same town. The double arros caused a bit of confusion, but not enough to anybody hopelessly lost. We were on the lot by 7:30.

After seventy years on the road you begin to suspect that there isn't a town in America where this circus hasn't pitched it's tent. This extended exploration of America is in and of itself worth pondering. Circus I believe, somedays is the secret history of where Americans live. Town are born and prosper and the circus is there. Other communities fade away and the circus remembers them.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 

48 miles yesterday from Lordsburg to Silver City, NM – our last NM date. The local newspaper saidthis about the show.

Long jump today about 150 miles to an overcast Douglas, AZ. We’ve traveled as far south and about as far west (more or less) as we will go this season. From here we turn north and chase the late Spring into the high plains.

On today’s jump the Animas Mountains of southwestern NM provided a haunting backdrop. Many biologists belive that the Animas and nearby AZ territory may be the last refuge for tigers (jaguars) in the United States. Hard to believe the big cats were once found from AZ to FL. In Douglas only two hundred yards of open field separate the circus lot from Mexico. Shows today at 4:30 and 7:30.

Monday, May 01, 2006 

Long jump across the desert to Lordsburg, NM. Lot's of work for the mechanics along the way. Sitting along side the highway for several hours with a flat tire, the mechanics swoop in like super heros getting the truck back on the road and on down the highway. The last vehicle on the lot today rolled in at 2:00 PM, just an hour and a half before "doors." Tomorrow Silver City and Aaron promises a contribution.