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Tuesday, July 22, 2008 

7/20/2008 Alexander, NY 65 miles. Grass/asphalt. Overcast/hot/showers.

Yesterday we jumped seventy miles west, and today we backtracked nearly as far. We’re near Batavia where we’re competing with a County Fair. When Mike Naughton the owner of Yankee Doodle Circus visited recently he said, “You wonder of bookers can draw a straight line.” With diesel at five bucks a gallon that’s a valid question. Sometimes a bit of backtracking can’t be helped. Two or three good towns with strong hosts and conflicting dates and it’s worth the extra miles. Alexander is very small community. If we have a very good day it will be well worth it. If we have a less than stellar day it may reflect issues that any circus must address in 2008. Times change. What makes for a good town? I’ve written a lot over the years about routing and booking based on demographic information and local economic conditions. But sometimes the real story may simply be population. The Kelly Miller Circus today has a much bigger nut (daily expenses) than the same show did several years ago. Towns that were historically good for KM may no longer be able to support it. Fortunately this show has played many New York communities successfully in the past -- so fine tuning a New York route is less about blazing new territory and more about looking at old numbers. Some bookers book communities they’ve worked with in the past without necessarily considering whether that town is still right for the show. Management often can’t really know if a town is no longer suitable until we try to play it. The small town in the Adirondacks still work because it’s the height of the tourist season. But maybe the small towns of central and western New York work less well than they once did There are no shortage of larger towns here where KM has played at one time or another. Might we have been better off in Elmira or Corning or Ithaca or Binghamton or in the larger suburbs of Rochester or Buffalo? Strong hosts can make small towns work, but if we’re unsure of just how strong a host is are we better off in a place with at ten thousand people? The huge success we enjoyed in MA was in pasrt as a result of a canny booker who picked both good towns in the outer Boston suburbs AND found strong hosts. Jim Mead who books for shows in central New York has had great success in matching towns and hosts with shows giving Carson & Barnes good dates. Nobody hits it every day. But the wins outnumber the loses. Any circus that’s been around for awhile can fall into the trap of going with what they know in terms of communities and hosts, and bookers love an easy “date.” But things change. The needs of a show. The economy of a region. The makeup of a host group. If a string of dates work it’s worth looking at why they worked? If a string of dates don’t work it’s worth considering why the booker chose that town or that group, and what alternatives might have been available. Fine tuning.

About me

  • I'm B.E.Trumble
  • From Everywhere, United States
  • Ben Trumble works in circus, carnival, and media relations
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