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Can you have a circus without elephants?

By Staff | Sep 6, 2008

Before heading for a weekend of camping over the Labor Day holiday, I noticed a poster on a store in downtown Blue Earth saying the circus was coming to town.

A circus, I thought. Really? I hadn’t heard a word about it.

The poster listed two shows on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at the Faribault County Fairgrounds.

I added the event to the story/picture-op list on my editor’s desk pad. And I asked around about this circus. No one seemed to know a thing about it.

On Tuesday, camera and grandson in hand, I headed to the Big Top tent (well, Medium Top, maybe.)

It was, indeed, a circus, but probably the smallest one I have seen.

I asked several of the circus workers and performers some questions, but they didn’t have many answers. Several didn’t even know the name of the circus, or where they were from. It could have been a language problem, though.

Most of them spoke Spanish, and they came from five different countries: Mexico, U.S., Spain, Argentina and Monte Carlo.

The name of the circus is Family Fun Circus, according to Jairo, the smooth talking, young ringmaster. And they are headquartered in Texas, he says.

This circus has been on tour all year, at least since the spring, and has spent the last two months in Minnesota.

“We scout out the towns to perform in about two weeks ahead,” Jairo says. “Then we put up posters and tickets and get permission to put on the show.”

They will head to Iowa, Missouri and eventually back to Texas from here. Then they take a winter break and start all over in the spring.

Jairo had high praise for his troupe, saying many of them have performed all over the world.

They were entertaining. And they were young. Most were probably 16 or younger.

There was a high trapeze act, a hula-hoop girl, a juggler and a boy doing a balancing act on a barrel.

My favorite was a girl doing gymnastic moves on two long pieces of chiffon material hanging from the top of the tent. It was very artistic.

There was a clown, of course, and he was my grandson’s favorite.

There was also an animal act, but it was large horses, and not elephants. However, the horses were trained to do exactly what I have seen elephants do in other, more traditional, circuses.

There were not any lions or tigers or trained dogs either.

The headliner act, a gaucho (Argentina cowboys) act was actually my least favorite. They did a lot of fancy tricks with bolos, even with them on fire, but it seemed lame.

Another act, the Human Cannonball, was also lame, but was actually unintentionally funny because they tried to make it much more dramatic than it ended up.

The Cannonball is a guy about 70 years old with a very large potbelly. His name is Luis Munoz and he has been doing this all his life, according to the ringmaster.

He did it twice in Blue Earth last Tuesday. I asked him about it, but either he couldn’t understand my Minnesota English, or he is deaf from a lifetime of ‘ka-booms.’

The show was an hour and a half, and yes, it was OK; it had its entertaining moments.

It also had its commercial moments. Besides the $15 adult ticket cost, they paused after every two or three acts and sold junk to the audience. Plastic swords and wands, clown noses, peanuts and cotton candy. Please don’t ask what I was suckered into.

Oh well, as the great circus entrepreneur, P.T.Barnum supposedly said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

I just wish there would have been an elephant, or two, and I would have felt a lot better about it.