Tuesday, September 29, 2009 

Tuesday Cactus, TX 25 miles. Warm. Dusty lot.

Small audiences yesterday. Today's town has a meat packing plant and a large Hispanic community. Better crowds likely. Dark and cold in the mornings now.

Monday, September 28, 2009 

Monday Sept 28th, 2009. Stratford, TX. 85 miles. Dirt lot with sand spurs. Cool.

We should have played Stratford on March 28th, but we were buried under three feet of snow in Canadian, TX that day. Better late than never. Next few days here in TX panhandle we're covering the dates we missed before we head back into southwestern OK. I understand that Carson & Barnes will begin their long run in Fort Worth, TX on Oct 10th -- before going home. John Ringling North III's Kelly Miller Circus closes Oct 25th in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The traditional tented circus season is almost a wrap.


Sunday. Hugoton, KS. 28 miles. Dry grass. Very hot.

Freak heat way, temps near three digits today, then thirty degrees cooler tomorrow. Another disappointing presale here. We've had a very good season so the quiet days as we head home aren't much fun.


Hooker, OK. 40 miles. Warm. Field by the park.

Two other shows in the area. Ossario Circus is up in Liberal, KS --about 15 miles from, and Gopher Davenport is playing this same lot later in the week. Small presale.


Friday. Beaver, OK. 118 miles. Dry lot. Cool.

Long jump into OK Panhandle. Good presale. We've had respectable business the past three days as we wind down.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 

Thursday Sept. 24th. Moreland, OK. 80 miles. Very cool. Sandy lot with thorns and bullheads.
Great shows yesterday in Cherokee. Today the landscape changed as we moved into the Panhandle. No more midwestern green, instead creosote and the scrappy plants of semi-arid country.
Sad news. Natalie Cainan who works her American Eskimo dog act on Kelly Miller lost her dog Dixie to cancer yesterday. Dixie was a trooper.

Season has three more weeks and I still don't know where we'll spend the winter.

Wednesday. Cherokee, OK. 55 miles. Grass. Cool.
Jumped back into OK from KS. Mornings are pitch black and midway lights are on for the second show as the days get shorter.
Spoke with Shane Johnson, cat guy and comedy performer. Shane’s Johnson Concessions is working fairs and festivals in TX and FL and doing strong business. Shane produces the Shrine Circus date in Miami, OK in early Nov.

Tuesday. Caldwell, KS. 120 miles. Grass. Overcast.
Very long jump into KS, one of two KS dates over the next week.

Monday Sept 21st. Cleveland, OK. 75 miles. Grass. Warm. Beautiful park outside town. We’re on the west side of Tulsa now.

Sunday September 20th. Inola, OK. 70 miles. Grass. Early shows. Business has been somewhat slow in OK, even in the Tulsa commute towns.

Saturday, September 19, 2009 

Saturday Sept. 20th, 2009. Jay, OK. 25 miles. Overcast. Mowed field.

Great day yesterday in Noel where Tyson has a large Hispanic workforce. Today we are home in Oklahoma -- though still weeks away from Hugo. Once, the great rail shows out of Peru played Home in Indiana on the steam powered band organs as they approached the end of the season. Here I suppose the working guys would play Tejano music and don't really feel at home until they cross the border back into Mexico. We stocked up on meat for the cats yesterday. Enough to finish the season and get through the first three weeks back in winterquarters.


Friday September 18th, 2009. Noel, MO. 80 miles. Grass. Overcast, rain predicted.

There are four weeks left in the season as we play our last town in Missouri. From here we play across Oklahoma with two one day stands across the state line in Kansas, then we dip down into Texas in the Panhandle ten days from now and play the towns we cancelled in the Spring during the snowstorm. From there it’s home across TX and OK.

When Red Johnson started this show 25 years ago Culpepper & Merriweather went out with three guys and a 40 X 60 tent. The show grew quickly that first season, the tent last for a couple of years. Playing small towns from Arizona to Wisconsin the show was fresh and pretty on the lot. Lately I’ve been thinking about what it might take to recreate that kind of show? Small towns still love a circus. And there’s still room for a show that looks good. What I’m wondering is if a show like that could be incorporated as a not-for-profit...not like a “circus arts” show, but rather because the status might be beneficial in booking, it might protect investors making small loans to put the show on the road, and it would offer some incentive to show management to put profits – and there should be profits – back into the circus itself. A small tent, seats, a couple straight trucks, and a dozen people. It doesn’t take all that much to start a show. But whether that show is really worth creating depends entirely on purpose. If the magic of traditional circus with animals playing communities that don’t see much of that is missing from the formulation – better to keep it in the barn. We shall see.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 

Thursday September 17th, 2009. Mt Vernon, MO. 20 miles. Grass/gravel. Warm.

Tomorrow we jump down to Noel, our last date in MO. After that it's OK and a couple dates in KS and TX. We close in four weeks. On the one hand after a long season seeing the end of it is satisfying -- on the other hand the idea of being unemployed is always frightening. You never seem to save as much as you'd hoped to save -- and in this economy winter jobs are harder to come by. By any metric 2009 has been a good year for Culpepper & Merriweather's Great Combined Circus.

Wednesday, Sarcoxie, MO. 50 miles. Grass. Warm.

Joplin MO commuter town. The old business district has been virtually abandoned. Small shows.

Tuesday. Lamar, MO. 65 miles. Grass. Overcast, rain.

Good shows, poor per caps. Birthplace of President Harry Truman.

Monday, September 14, 2009 

Monday. Rich Hill, MO. 95 miles. Mowed field.

We're in thye southwestern corner of MO now. Business was slow yesterday in Lincoln, but should be much better today. Bounce around towns between Joplin and Springfield much of this week.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 

Sunday August 13th, 2009. Lincoln, MO. 35 miles. Mowed field. Cooler temps.

The leaves on the trees are changing everywhere now, even as we move south and west. Towns beginning to look more western than midwestern. We'll be in Oklahoma in a week.

Interesting to note. When we opened in March the feeling was that this season we would need to replace three trucks through the course of the year. To date, we replaced one truck in New Mexico in April, and rebuilt a transmission on another in Oregon. Looks like most of vehicles will make it back to WQ. Kudos to mechanic Scott Moss.

Saturday Sept. 12th. Versailles, MO. 75 miles. Grass. Warm.

We're ona fairgrounds lot next door to a flea market. Huge day here several years ago. Rather more modest today. David Stilts Valponi left the show today going home to California. Stilts has spend July and August on the CM show for twenty years. His good humor will be missed until he returns next season.

Friday September 11th, 2009. Linn, MO. 35 miles. Grass. Warm, humid.

Strong shows in Linn. Just as historically August sees a slowdown in show business September sees an uptick. The last several weeks have confirmed that. Schools are back in session and the crowds are bigger over all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009 

Thursday Sept 10th, 2009. Gerard, MO. 35 miles. Grass. Warm, humid. Tight lot.


Wednesday. St Clair, MO. 20 miles. Gravel/Grass. Warm, humid.

Short jump. Tight lot. Average shows. It's five weeks until we close. Missouri is almost always a state where Hugo based shows play in the spring or fall coming or going. Most years most shows do reasonably well here. Hard to put off thinking about what comes next, after the season. The recession may be officially winding down but the outlook for winter jobs doesn't look great.


Tuesday. Pacific, MO. 100 miles. Gravel. Warm, humid.

Jumped into Missouri last night to avoid rush traffic through St Louis. Gravel lot is pure misery. Strong presale by sponsor.

Pacific turned out to be a very good day with two standing room only houses. (Hard to seat on straw on a sharp edged gravel lot.) Owner of the Great Pacific Coffee Company kept the bar open in the evening after the second show allowing for a bit of Irish Whiskey and Rye to close out the day.

Monday, September 07, 2009 

Monday. Greenville, IL. 65 miles. Hot, humid, overcast. Grass.

Two early shows then we night jump across St. Louis into MO.


Sunday Sept 6th, 2009. Carlinville, IL. 25 miles. Grass. Overcast.

Lot and license date at the fairgrounds. Two more days in Illinois.

Saturday Sept. 5th, 2009. Mount Olive, IL. 65 miles. Grass. Rain.

Wet day. Small shows on a holiday weekend. Freightliner pulling the candy wago took out a buck on the jump thbis morning. Some front end damage and the leak in the fuel canister. Late to the lot. Union organizer Mother Mary Jones is buried in a bleak cemetery here on the edge of town.

Friday Sept 4th, 2009. Blue Mound, IL. 35 miles. Grass. Warm.

Through much of this week we’ve enjoyed the kind of strong business that reminds us that small town circus is alive and well, still much loved by children young and young at heart.

Thursday Sept 3rd, 2009. Pawnee, IL. 70 miles. Grass. Warm

Wednesday Sept 2nd, 2009. Lovington, IL. 60 miles. Grass. Warm.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009 

Wednesday September 2nd, 2009. Lovington, IL. 75 miles. Grass. Warm.

Good shows yesterday. We’re aiming for Missouri now. Very small town today outside Decatur. I seem to recall that Decatur was an important town for the Yankee Robinson Circus in the years after the Civil War. The Yank was among the best known showmen of his day, and once toured the largest circus on the road in the years before the railroad shows. By the 1870’s he’d fallen on hard times, rebounding shortly before his death when he partners with a group of brothers named Ringling.

End of the season is no longer a vague outline on the horizon. It's palpable and near.


Tuesday September 1st, 2009. Gibson City, IL. 25 miles. Grass. Warmer.

Great date in Gibson City where we are hosted by the Shriners. Weather a bit warmer, though we spotted some maples today with leaves turning from green to red. We really aren’t ready for full on autumn yet. Hope to post pictures of each of the show trucks later in the week. Season winding down and I need to think about a winter job. Looks like relocation to New York is in the offing.


Monday August 31, 2009. Farmer City, IL. 45 miles. Mowed field. Cool.

Weather is supposed to warm up later in the week. Mornings still pretty chilly. Host here put us on an out of the way lot and forgot the part about selling tickets.