Tuesday, June 30, 2009 

Tues. Hawarden, IA. 60 miles. Grass, gravel. Sunny. Perfect circus day.

Nice lot, nice town, good presale. Tomorrow Sheldon, IA

Monday, June 29, 2009 

Luverne, MN. 95 miles. Grass. Sunny, warm.

A quick jump into MN before a handful of Iowa dates.

Usual VERY comprehensive MN electrical inspection.

Six years ago on a reservation in South Dakota a stray dog jumped into the cab of Trey Key’s truck. He was thin and covered with ticks. X-rays later suggested that he’d been shot with birdshot more than once during a lifetime of misadventures. A vet said he was between six and twelve years old, best guess. Last night on our final evening in South Dakota in 2009 “George” died after a long illness. I suppose I could speculate on whether he held on until he could see “home” one more time, but that would sound pretty silly. He was a trouper till the end. He was a good dog who didn’t bother elephants or get into the towner’s garbage. He was loved and he’ll be missed.

Shadows are fallin’ and I’m running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for awhile

If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile

There’s a train leavin’ nightly for when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile.

Warren Zevon


Sunday June 28th. Jefferson, SD. 115 miles. Grass. Sunny.

Last South Dakota date. After incredible business from California through Wyoming, South Dakota has been a letdown. Hoping things pick up in Iowa and MN.

The world is remembering Michael Jackson, but the news today that cable TV product pitchman Billy Mays is dead at 50 comes as a shocker. Anybody who grew up around midways or the Jersey boardwalks knows just how slick a good pitchman really is. Billy Mays, who came out of western New York was maybe the best of his generation.


Saturday. Salem, SD. 150 miles. Dirt. Humid.

Last minute lot change. Original lot was too wet. This one is tight and dirty. Quiet town.

Friday, June 26, 2009 

Friday. Miller, SD. 70 miles. Grass. Very hot.

The extreme heat this week in South Dakota has depressed business. Sparsely attended shows. With another very long jump on Saturday morning we're hoping for cooler weather for the weekend.


Thursday. Chamberlain, SD. 160 miles. Grass, hot.

Beyond the badlands and the plains across the Missouri into corn country and the Central Time Zone. The upper midwest, heartland to traditional circus at least as far back as the Orton show out of Iowa before the Civil War, Yankee Robinson's shows based in Illinois, and the many early Badger State circuses that called Delevan home. We have almost reached our summer grounds.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 

Wall, SD. 50 miles. Gravel. Very hot.

Famous Wall of Wall Drugs. On the interstate their signs stretch for hundreds of miles. Going to be very hot for the next couple days. Possible storms. Good presale here after a poor day in Box Elder.



Box Elder, SD. 90 miles. Grass. Warm. Suburban Rapid City, a good jump off for Rushmore or the Black Hills Museum in Hill City. (Home of the T Rex "Stan")


Monday, June 22nd. Sundance, WY. 48 miles. Grass lot. Last stop in WY. Tomorrow South Dakota and the Black Hills. More than a Century ago this corner of WY, SD, MT and NE was the scene of a great scientific battle as Edward Drinker Cope, greatest of American Naturalists, and O.C. Marsh of the Peabody Museum at Yale University unleashed armies of diggers in search of dinosaur fossils. The resulting "bone war" gave rise to paleontology and inspired the later finds of Mr. Barnum Brown of the American Museum in Montana and Alberta.



Sunday, June 21st. Newcastle, WY. 180 miles. Dirt lot.

Friday. June 19th. Sheridan, WY. 85 miles. Grass. Warm

Two day stand here in Sheridan hosted by Parks Dept. Jordan show playing Sheridan in a week. They have lots of free tickets in the shops. Nice to sleep in after 700 miles of jumps in five days – but on Sunday we jump another 180 miles wuith early shows and start a week that takes us 700 more miles into Iowa. Two day stand gives us time for small projects. New floor in the Concessions wagon.

Thursday. Hardin, MT. 120 miles. Grass. Warm.

We’re set up on the grounds of a wonderful museum next to the Crow Agency, just a few miles north from the Custer Battlefield. Fitting somehow just a week shy of the anniversary of the Custer defeat at the hands of the Lakota and the Cheyenne.

Wednesday. Big Timber, MT. Rocky field. Cool. Thunderstorms and showers.

Several years ago the local sponsor signed to bring in the circus and didn’t sell a lot of tickets. They thought they’d like to try again. Well, with the rodeo coming up it turns out that circus still wasn’t high on the “to do” list. On the otherhand when Al G. Barnes played Big Timber in 1925 his tent blew down, so a day with sparse crowds doesn’t seem all that bad.

Tuesday. Whitehall, Montana. 175 miles. Grass. Overcast. Cool.

Another long drive down the interstate this time through Butte and on to Whitehall. First circus to play here in 22 years. Tomorrow's 115 mile jump may be the shortest this week. Drive, drtive drive... but it'll put us into eastern South Dakota by the end of next week. Then Iowa.

Have been meaning to comment on Ian Garden's new "animal free" show playing in eight cities in Canada. Garden's suggestion that he's changing with the times, look at the success of Cirque...and oh by-the-way in ten years there won't be ANY shows with animals sounds pretty silly. Maybe because we heard much the same thing from a couple other shows a decade ago. The fact is that the public still loves animal acts, activists have not been overwhelmingly successful in their efforts to "ban" circus, and Cirque numbers, while impressive, are a bit flat and not as daunting as they once were. The audience for traditional circus isn't necessarily the audience for Cirque. And the affluent Cirque audience isn't necessarily rushing out to attend other cirque-like shows.

Ten or fifteen years ago we had a problem when it came to animals. The circus as an ill-defined institution hadn't moved as quickly as zoos in changing the protocols we used for training, animal care, etc. But that's rarely the case today. We are better, and where there's still room for improvement there's no reason to believe that improvements won't be made. (I'm sure my anonymous friends will tell me that there were never any problems and even suggesting that once upon a time we were imperfect is fodder for the enemy. There's always room for improvement and live births and better longevities are proof that we aren't living in the 1930s.) There's no justification for an animal free circus except when "animal free" serves some other artistic purpose. Anyway, it's hard not to like Ian Garden, and I think everyone wishes his new show well -- but the notion that he's somehow seen the future and it doesn't include animals is the wrong argument to make. Time to consult a new deck of Tarot cards.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 

Whitehall, Montana. 175 miles. Grass. Overcast. Cool.

Another long drive down the interstate this time through Butte and on to Whitehall. First circus to play here in 22 years. Tomorrow's 115 mile jump may be the shortest this week. Drive, drtive drive... but it'll put us into eastern South Dakota by the end of next week. Then Iowa


Monday, June 15th, 2009.  Stevensville, Montana.  151 miles.  Mowed field Rain.  Cool.

Long jump along the Clearwater River and over Lolo Pass into Montana.  With the time change and construction on the the two lane road it was late morning when we made Stevensville, south of Missoula.  No major breakdowns.  Just the usual tires etc.  Soild business continues to bless us.  Internet remains "difficult" and accessing secure sites to upload pictures, check gmail, etc is difficult.


Sunday June 14th.  Kooskia, ID.  26 miles.  Grass on gravel.

Kooskia is a pretty little river town in eastern ID where the show has proved popular in the past, and proved popular again this year.  The last Idaho date before the really jumps across Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota into the midwest.


Saturday.  June 13.  Grangeville, ID.  126 miles.  Field.  Overcast.  Warm.  
Good crowds

Friday, June 12, 2009 

Friday. Palouse, WA. 60 miles. Grass. Sunny, warm.

We’re back in Washington for one day, near Moscow, Idaho. Long jumps tomorrow through Monday into Montana. Yesterday, St. Maries proved to be another good day with strong business.

Thursday. June 11th. St Maries, ID. 100 miles. Grass. Sunny, warm. Mostly long jumps for the next couple weeks…including some very, very long jumps across Montana and Wyoming next week. Good presale here. Should be another excellent day. Still waiting for the kind of reliable internet connection that will allow me to post more pictures.

Wednesday. Sandpoint, ID. 40 miles. Grass. Cool. Sunny. Lot and license date at fairgrounds. Two years ago CM played here and had a big day. Carson & Barnes played the area last year. Nice to be a few blocks from Walmart.

ADDENDUM: Both shows were good.

Further notes. According to the cat guy on Kelly Miller the empty dates that have been reported have been filled and Kelly Miller is doing fantastic business in New Jersey before heading into New England with a stop and dates at the Big E. Great news. Kelly Miller is still the cream of the crop as far as traditional tented circus goes this season and kudos to Mr. North, Mr. Royal and company for getting it down the road.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009 

Bonners Ferry, ID. 65 miles. Grass. Cool, rain.

We've moved into Idaho. In a week we'll reach Montana and the race east will quicken. The rain here in Bonners Ferry is falling as snow on the mountains. We anticipate several very busy days here and in Sandpoint.


Monday. Newport, WA. 35 miles. Mowed field. Cold rain. Tomorrow we leave WA for Idaho, though we return one more time later in the week. Yesterday I ate up my 4th alternator this season. New alternator isn’t working, so my battery was dead, dead, dead when I made the lot today. Slogging through the rain for more parts this afternoon.

Rumor is that Kelly Miller is or will be sitting idle on a fairgrounds in the northeast with two open days. Open days on a show that size with a pretty big nut are painful. Imagine that Mr. Royal and Mr. North aren’t pleased with breakdown in booking that’s led to too many open days or travel days this mid-season. Suspect that sorting out booking is probably a priority there.

Playing catch up.

From Oroville, five miles from the Canadian border on Friday – another very hot day – we jumped over the passes on Saturday to picturesque Republic, WA….About sixty miles playing in a mowed field in the mining town, It was high school graduation and business suffered. The heat finally broke. On Sunday we jumped 100 miles over high passes into suburban Spokane where we played on grass in a city park in Deer Park. Another quiet day. Several people took our clown out to dinner for her 29th birthday… officially on Tuesday.

Friday, June 05, 2009 

Friday. Oroville, WA. 45 miles. Grass. Very hot.

We're three miles from the Canadian border today. Our internet problems the past weeks have gotten worse as we've moved north making it tough to dial in the dish signal. Slow speeds anddifficulty logging on to secure sites. For me it's just hard to post or upload pictures. For the show itself it's virtually impossible to process credit cards. Time for a technology upgrade.

Surprisingly strong business this week. The second show yesterday we literally had to turn people away. Circus is alive and well in this part of WA when you have a good host and the advance is working.

Thursday, June 04, 2009 

Thurs June 4th. Omak, WA 45 miles. Gravel. Very hot.

On the Colville Indian Reservation.

Wednesday June 3rd, 2009. Bridgeport, WA. 105miles. Mowed field. Very hot.

95 degrees F. today. Probably the hottest we’ve seen since the California desert. The last time a circus visited Bridgeport was 1959. We’ve had a huge day – though it might take another fifty years to repeat the same business. Beautiful drive along the Columbia River beneath the cliff faces near Soap Lake. Tomorrow north for dates near the border with Canada.

Tuesday June 2nd. Warden, WA. 45 miles. Grass. Overcast, hot, windy.

The rest of the week will see long jumps north to the Canadian border, then back down to Spokane. Next week we’ll play Idaho, backtracking for one more Washington date.

There are more theories on routing a circus than stars in the sky. When a show has a good year the routing and booking are works of genius. A bad year and the routing was done by the village idiot. The genius and the village idiot are usually the same person. In the days of wagon shows a route was relatively straight forward. A wagon show could move 20-30 miles a day, no more. There was nothing sophisticated about picking towns. The railroad shows that created the golden age were far more flexible. Suddenly a circus could route in to areas where there was prosperity and skip whole states where times were hard. Truck shows have historically borrowed from both models. The circus has to play someplace every day… And you can only drive so far and still put up the tent. But you try to avoid areas where you just don’t do well. Except when you can’t. Every season has certain destinations, dates and states where a show anticipates strong business. The jumps between those destinations can go on for weeks, and that’s the dicey part of routing. A show can play its way across the high plains for a month moving from the Midwest to the west coast. If all goes well, most days will pay for themselves. If things don’t go well it’s a long trek. Likewise its possible to jump the entire distance playing no dates between destinations – but that can be very expensive. Finally some shows will make long jumps with travel days playing only a few select towns over a 1500 mile repositioning between destinations. There’s no right way or wrong way to route between destinations. Pick one and you may be this year’s genius, pick another and you might be the dunce.

Monday June 1st, 2009 Royal City, WA. 75 miles. Grass. Hot.

Heavily Hispanic farm town along the river. Irrigation fuels growing cherries and hay. Great audience for both shows.