August 20th, 2008. Caledonia, MI. 57 miles. Field. Sunny, warm.
Excellent day yesterday in Grand Haven. Best in a week. Again speaks to the strength of this show in suburban locations where population, demographics (families with children,) and a stronger localized economy works in our favor. Caledonia is a suburb of Grand Rapids and with luck will play out much the same, though the lot is less visible.
ADDENDUM: Sparse crowds in Caledonia, whether the lot, the sponsor, the local economy, or a conflicting event, who can say?
I wonder sometimes why so many traditional tent shows seem to actively avoid lengthy stays in major markets? Historically I imagine regulation played a part in that. Urban and suburban communities have more regulation, require more permits, have stricter inspection, etc. But these days almost every show is well versed in jumping through regulatory hoops anyway. Culturally for the shows based in the west once upon a town the allure of small towns may have spoken to shared values, but again, small towns have grayed and changed. Marketing costs are probably the single biggest issue when it comes to playing more urban areas. While KM played very successfully in suburban Boston with traditional hosts, etc. – had the show played shopping centers for several days at a time, promoting that kind of date even with a nominal sponsor involves media buys, direct mailings, maybe ticket lay downs, significant expense. One interesting thing about the run up in fuel costs in recent years is that it takes some of the pain out of marketing buys. There’s a certain appeal to two and three days stands with jumping, or even a week – and when the money that would otherwise go into fuel can offset media buys it might be said that while playing small communities has become dramatically more expensive, the expense for playing more urban areas for several days at a time has remained rather more static. Urban marketing in that sense has become less of a risk. To be accurate, some traditional tented shows like Cole have played highly urban centers all along, as did the Vargas show, especially in the days of Clifford Vargas. But the western shows, though comfortable now and then in a mall parking lot have less practice in the cities. The successful of Hispanic shows playing long stands in major cities should be a heads up to every traditional show. If circus goes where the crowds are, the crowds are in bigger towns building over longer stays