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Circus News

From Across the Nation and Around the World


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UniverSoul Circus Performer Seriously Injured

May 21, 2017
A UniverSoul performer was seriously injured on Saturday May 20, in Mount Vernon, New York after a fall from the "Wheel Of Death".

Reports state the the male performer was attempting to jump from one wheel to another when he missed and fell to the floor.

The name of the performer or his condition have not yet been released.

Big Apple Circus Sold at Auction

The statement below was posted on the Big Apple Circus Website.

New York, NY – February 9, 2017 — The Big Apple Circus has selected a bidder – Compass Partners, L.L.C., a Sarasota, Florida based investment firm, with a bid of $1.3M – subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court, before whom we will make our case on February 14. Our choice was based on Compass Partners offering the highest bid and making a compelling case to revive the circus performances consistent with the original Big Apple Circus mission and values: serving family audiences in NYC and on tour, sensitive to accessibility and to differently abled audiences.

February 8, 2017

5 injured in high wire fall
Nik Wallenda - unhurt.

While rehearsing for Friday's opening of Circus Sarasota, eight people fell from the high wire.

Nik Wallenda and seven others were practicing the eight man pyramid. Five people fell to the ground
while Nik and two others managed to hang onto the wire and were uninjured.

The condition of the injured is not known at this time.

January 15, 2017

Ringling is Closing

A sad day in the circus world

After the evening performances of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in Orlando and Miami, circus employees were told that the show will be closing in May.

The reasons giving for the decision were declining attendance combined with increased operating costs, along with changing public tastes.

The two units of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will give their last performances on May 7 in Providence, RI and on May 21 in Uniondale, NY..

Five of the Ringling Brothers, Charles, Albert, Otto, Alfred, and John opened the Ringling Bros. Circus on May 19, 1884 in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

In 1907 the Ringlings purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus (P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey). They operated the two shows separately until 1919 when they combined the shows to form the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. The circus has operated continuously ever since.

By 1956 the cost of moving the huge big top had become tremendous and on July 16, 1956 in Pittsburgh, PA the circus gave it's last performance under the big top and began showing in buildings.

The circus is currently owned by Feld Entertainment.

Visit Our Circus Book Store
to Read More About the Ringlings

Read Ringling's official statement HERE

Another Loss to the Show World

John Welde Obituary
Photo Credit:

Johnny Welde passed away suddenly on Wednesday January 25, 2017.

Visitation will be held from 4 PM to 8 PM on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, at Palms-Robarts Funeral Home, 170 Honore Ave. in Sarasota. FL. Services will be held at 10 AM on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 at St. Martha's Catholic Church in Sarasota.

We extend our sincere condolences to his wife and family.


January 15, 2017

Circus Ring of Fame 2017 Inductees

The Circus Ring of Fame induction ceremony was held on January 14, 2017.
This years Inductees were as follows:

Reggie Armor, Aerialist
Henry Ringling North, Circus Impressario
"Rogana" – Dora Foster, the Queen of Balance
Allen Bloom, the Guru of Circus Marketing
The Pedrolas, Wire Walkers and Aerialists
Starless Night, Steed Extraordinaire (animal performer)

Each year The Circus Ring of Fame Foundation recognizes
who have made a significant contribution to the art and culture of the circus.
A ceremony is held in January, during which a bronze wagon wheel plaque
hornoring the Inductee is unveiled at St. Armand's Circus in Sarasota, Florida.

December 29, 2016

Thieves take circus equipment

By Chelo Rivera under News Briefs - KRQE.COM

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thieves have reached a new low, targeting a local circus act. According to the New Mexican, someone broke into Wise Fool New Mexico's storage unit in Pojoaque and got away with a custom-made piece of equipment that is used in one of their aerial acts.

Wise Fool New Mexico is a local non-profit that performs around northern New Mexico. They tell the New Mexican, since the equipment is custom-built it's hard to replace. They are offering a $1,000 reward to get it back.

December 08, 2016

Lion Attacks and Kills Trainer

Lion Attacks and Kills Trainer

On Noverber 26, 2016, during a performance in Alexandria Egypt, 35 year old lion trainer Islam Shaheen was viciously attcked by a 450 pound lion. Handlers immediately rushed in and struggled in vain to save Shaheen. Shaheen was rushed the hospital where he died two days later. The lion had recently been aquired from South Africa.


October 22, 2016

Cole Bros Circus and Hanneford Family Circus
Donate Large Collection to Circus World Museum

The Circus World Museum of Baraboo, Wisconsin received two hugh collections of historical circus records.

The Cole Bros. Circus donated business records, photographs, news clippings, tent blueprints and video tapes. The hugh collection filled 28 file cabinets plus 40 boxes. The donation contains valuable historic information from the Cole Bros Circus and it's predecessor Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus.

The Hanneford Family Circus donation includes photographs, documents, props and various equipment obtained during the show's many years of performing.

The Circus World Museum along with the Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center are dedicated in the preserving the great history of the circus. Circus World and the Robert L. Parkinson Library and Research Center are owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society and managed by the Circus World Museum Foundation.

The Big Apple Circus Has Folded

On Tuesday July 26, 2016 in a statement released from the Big Apple Circus headquarters at Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, it was announced that the show has canceled it's 2016 and 2017 tours.

For the past few years, the circus has found itself falling deeper into debt. Circus official blamed this on rising operating cost and lower ticket sales due to events such as Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon Bombing, and an ice storm in Atlanta.

Earlier this year the circus started an online funding campaign to raise 2 million dollars to keep the show afloat. Only $ 900,000 was raised, not enough to offset the show's debt.

Read more about the Big Apple Circus here.

King Cole Circus Cancels Dates

On again, off again, on again, off again. Earlier this year the Cole Bros Circus announced that it would open it's season in Brunswick, Ga. on June 22. The show then notified their sponsors that they were cancelling the dates.

A deal was then made between Cole Bros owner Johnny Pugh and circus producer Dick Garden of Sarasota based Big Top Productions, to take the show out as the "King Cole Circus".

Under the new arrangement the show opened in Jacksonville North Carolina on July 8th. The show was scheduled to continue through North Carolina, Virginia and into Maryland.

In mid July the circus again cancelled its itinerary and the equipment returned to Florida.

Chuck Schlarbaum Has Died

Chuck Schlarbaum chuck schlarbaum obituary and services
January 09, 1938 - June 17, 2016

We are sorry to announce that circus legand
Chuck Schlarbaum passed away on June 17, 2016
We will be updating information on memorial services
and the official obituary as soon as available.
Click here to read more.


Pope Francis thanks circus performers for bringing joy to often dark world.

On June 16, 2016 Pope Francis held a special audience for circus performers at Paul VI Hall in Rome.
Hundreds of circus people and their families were in attendance.

Pope Francis recognizes the contributions show people have made to the world and has expressed this many times in the past.

During the two day event The Pope made the folling statements.
"You cannot imagine what good you do, the good you sow,". "You can be sure, you sow these seeds that do many people good."
"This, too, is mercy: sowing beauty and happiness in a world sometimes gloomy and sad."

The pope also urged local parishes to reach out to traveling performers, offering them the sacraments and eliminating prejudicial attitudes that marginalize them.
he said June 16 during a special audience celebrating the jubilee of circus.


Pete Cristiani has passed away at age 90.

Pete Cristiani
June 24, 1925 - June 4, 2016

Circus great Pete Cristiani passed away on June 4, 2016.
A Funeral Mass honoring Pete was held at St. Martha Roman Catholic Church in Sarasota followed by
a Reception at Slhowfolks Of Sarasota.
Click here for more information on the Cristiani Family.


Terry O'Brien Has Passed Away

Cole Bros Ciecus Bews

We have just received word that circus performer Terry O'Brien has passed away.
Terry passed away on May 20, 2016 at his home in Kissimmee, FL.

Terry and his wife Camille toured with many circuses during his career, including
Clyde Beatty Cole Bros., King Bros., Clyde Bros. in the U.S., Duffy Circus in Ireland and Circo Atayde in Mexico.

We extend our most sincere condolences to his family.



Cole Bros Circus News

Update June 18, 2016

Our latest informtion is that the Cole Bros will be returning to the road under the name of King Cole Circis. The show will open in Jacksoville, NC on July 8.

Posted April 03, 2016

Cole Bros. Circus Not Going Out in 2016???

Rumors have been flying that the Cole Bros. Circus will not tour in 2016. To our knowledge no official statement has not been released by the show staff so we must stress that hopefully these are only rumors.

Rumors began on Feb. 11 when sponsors of Wilmington North Carolina's Azalea Festival issued a news release that after over thirty years, the Cole Bros. Circus would not be at the festival this year. The release went on to state that the Cole Bros. Circus would not be touring in 2016, a statement that was later denied by a circus spokesman.

For more than fifty years, current circus owner/manager Johnny Pugh has been with the show through it's many transitions and has done an amazing job in keeping this American tradition alive.

We would appreciate it if the staff of the Cole Bros. Circus would contact us with an official statement.

Ramos Bros. Motorcycles Stolen

Posted: Saturday, January 23, 2016 2:43 pm
Updated: 3:01 pm, Sat Jan 23, 2016.

Josh Allen, Hi-Deert Star

YUCCA VALLEY — Two stunt motorcycles were stolen from the Ramos Bros. Circus, at the corner of Hilton Road and Twentynine Palms Highway, at around 4 a.m. Saturday morning.

According to Oliver Ramos, one of his workers got up and noticed a truck pulling away with a pair of mororcycles that are used in the Globe of Death stunt show.

"We are offering a reward for the return of the motorcycles with no questions asked," Ramos said. "Our riders really miss their motorcycles."

One of the stolen bikes is a blue and white 1990 Yamaha RT 100 and the other is a 2000 Honda RX 100.

Both motorcycles have LED lights on the rims and plastics.

Anyone with information is asked to call Oliver Ramos at 702-273-8276.

Burglar damages Circus World Museum offices

Tim Damos Baraboo News Republic.
January 19, 2016

Authorities are investigating a break-in at Circus World Museum in which a suspect allegedly damaged offices, fired a rifle and stole cash.

Baraboo Police Capt. Rob Sinden said the incident occurred during the early morning hours Monday.

"The suspect broke into the Circus World Museum office premises, broke several windows and rummaged through various offices," he said. "The suspect then obtained a .22 caliber rifle from his nearby vehicle and re-entered the (museum) office area, fired several rounds through various windows and objects inside."

Sinden said the suspect made off with several hundred dollars in cash and equipment from the office area. He said police have recovered a firearm and do have a suspect in the case.

Circus World Executive Director Scott O'Donnell said it seemed the person who broke in was more intent on causing damage than on stealing anything of value. He said three shots were fired inside the museum.

Garbage cans had been tipped over and plants had been tossed, O'Donnel said. In one room, an employee's dumbbell had been thrown through his office window.

"It was unsettling but it could have been worse," O'Donnel said. "One of us could have come in and come upon this perpetrator, which causes us to pause."

O'Donnel said he does not have a dollar estimate on the damage, but hopes that insurance and restitution will pay for repairs. Fortunately, he said, none of the historic artifacts at the museum were damaged or stolen.

Circus Smirkus gets major award

January 09,2016
From The Barre - Montpelier Times Argus

Circus Smirkus, Vermont's award-winning international youth circus, was recognized this week with the second annual Community Impact Award at the Celebration of American Circus at Lincoln Center in New York.

The Community Impact Award is "given annually to a circus artist or organization that has succeeded in harnessing and demonstrating the power of the circus arts for community engagement and social good, and in bringing diverse audiences together through quality programming," Smirkus founder Rob Mermin and Executive Director Ed LeClair were present to accept the award.

Smirkus troupers (former members of the Big Top Tour) Liam Gundlach and Sawyer Oubre performed a duo diabolo act as well.

Circus Smirkus is headquartered in Greensboro.

The Celebration of American Circus was presented by Circus Now and the Big Apple Circus.

Mechanical Gorilla helps circus adapt to animals ban

Truxon is a one-tonne robotic gorilla that looks like the real thing

Mexico News Daily | Monday, January 4, 2016

For a 127-year-old Mexico City-based circus, the crisis brought on by a ban on the use of animals meant opportunity — and a one-tonne gorilla in the tent.

Under a federal law that went into effect last July, at least 2,000 circus animals were put out to pasture in Mexico, including eight that were owned by Circo Atayde Hermanos.

The ban was a controversial one for circus owners, some of whom have claimed it was no more than a political ploy by the Green Ecologist Party, which promoted the legislation.

But Circo Atayde, which saw a 60% decline in revenues after it retired its animals in September 2014, decided to adapt.

"We had to adapt and devise the means to continue attracting people," said Celeste Atayde, one of the circus's owners.

It adopted some new initiatives, but the biggest was Truxon, a nine-meter tall gorilla that weighs a tonne but violates no law: Truxon is a robot.

He's actually more than that for the circus. "For us, he is another artist," said Atayde.

"We realized we had to bring in new attractions, so we brought in an animal, but an electronic one" and things are going well.

Truxon has eyes that blink and a mouth and hands that move. All its movements appear to be those of a real gorilla, said the circus owner.

The robot is the creation of four brothers — Rubén, Nelson, Moisés and Eduardo Peralvar, who invested US $50,000 in constructing it.

They would only say that its computer-driven, electronic brain directs gesticulations and movements that are powered by more than 50 pneumatic pistons. The rest they prefer to keep secret, as with any circus magic.

Showtime for Truxon is the finale, coming after the jugglers, acrobats, trapeze artists and clowns, entering the big top in the midst of thick artificial smog.

After a recent show, 12-year-old Ingrid Hernández said seeing Truxon beat his chest was "very impressive, very cool."

Axel, 9, was of the same mind. "It's really cool. I liked it because he picked people up and it looked like he was eating them."

Source: Milenio (sp)

Click here for Circo Atayde Hermanos Information


Mary Ruth Herriot

Mary Ruth Herriot has passed away
Another lost of a circus legend

We have just learned of the lost of circus great Mary Ruth Herriot.

Mary Ruth passed away on Sunday, November 1, 2015
Memorial Services were held Monday, November 09

We extend out sincere condolences to the Herriott family.


UniverSoul Circus Aerialist Falls

WPVI-TV Philadelphia
Sunday, November 01, 2015 01:24AM

A 19-year-old male trapeze artist is hospitalized after he fell 30 feet into the crowd during an UniverSoul Circus performance.

Medics were dispatched shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Saturday to the 5900 block of Parkside Avenue in Fairmount Park.

In a statement, the circus identified the man as Chenglong Wu, a performer with the Wuhan Flying Trapeze act of China.

Wu was rushed to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in stable condition.
"According to doctors at the hospital, Wu has suffered a lower back injury, but is expected to make a full recovery," the circus said in a statement.

No other injuries were reported.

The statement from the UniverSoul Circus in full reads as follows:

Chenglong Wu, a performer with the Wuhan Flying Trapeze act of China, was injured in a fall during the 4:00 pm performance of UniverSoul Circus today in Philadelphia. Wu was transported to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he is listed in stable condition. According to doctors at the hospital, Wu has suffered a lower back injury, but is expected to make a full recovery. Circus officials are currently investigating the incident and will have no further comment until their investigation is complete.

John Ringling inducted into Florida Tourism Hall of Fame

By Maggie Menderski
Published: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 at 4:11 p.m.

Sarasota was just a small fishing village when John Ringling began recruiting tourists to the Sunshine State at Madison Square Gardens in the 1920s.

Nine decades and hundreds of millions of people later, Florida is still grateful for that investment.

Ringling has been named to the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame. The annual award from Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency, recognizes contemporary and historic figures whose vision and creativity have shaped Florida as a destination.

Ringling was the 13th-richest man in the country in 1925 and he loved promotion, said Ron McCarty, keeper and curator of Cà d'Zan, the circus magnate's house in Sarasota.

Ringling owned part of Madison Square Gardens in New York and used his influence there to drive people and their money to the Sunshine State.

In 1927, he moved his circus' winter quarters to Sarasota, which helped ease the community through the Great Depression.

"It was the No. 1 attraction in Florida," McCarty said. "It saved our economy in Sarasota."

Ringling, the 37th inductee since 2001, joins such historical figures as Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and Henry Flagler in receiving the honor.

Betsy Meibers, John Ringling's great-great niece, accepted the award on behalf of her family last week at the Florida Governor's Conference on Tourism in Tampa. Her uncle always had an ability to dream big, she said, and she's hopeful that this award brings attention to some of his lesser-known accomplishments.

There was always more to the Ringlings than "The Greatest Show on Earth."

Hugo to Expand Showfolks Cemetery

By SARAH TERRY-COBO - Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015
Information from: The Journal Record,

HUGO, Okla. (AP) - Tommy Pence is working to add more celebrity residents to a cherished Hugo institution. He's negotiating the expansion with a business that's a local mainstay and a main driver of economic development.

Pence said it will be easy to keep those future residents happy; they're all deceased.

The superintendent at Mount Olivet Cemetery is coordinating with the Carson & Barnes Circus to add a new, 48-person cremation niche to the resting grounds. The town's municipal authority approved the expansion, and it will be installed after Northeast Texas Monuments completes the monument, but Pence didn't have an exact date, The Journal Record ( ) reported.

The addition will expand Showmen's Rest, a section of the cemetery dedicated to circus performers. The area is delineated with elephant statues atop granite markers. It features headstones including a 3-D circus tent, a life-sized monument engraved with Ringmaster John Strong's likeness, and a wagon wheel-shaped tribute.

Carson & Barnes founder D.R. Miller brought his circus to Hugo in 1941, and the community became the show's headquarters, City Manager David Rawls said. The rural southeastern Oklahoma town was once home to nine circuses, and is now home to three, he said. Rawls' family also owned a circus and he was a performer, too.

The cemetery is important because it attracts tourists. Typically it is one of three stops for state and national tour buses, including the town's rail depot and the Endangered Ark Foundation, a facility for Carson & Barnes' retired elephants, Rawls said.

Mount Olivet is also a cornerstone of Hugo residents' heritage, Rawls said. That's why the City Council continues to allocate money through a capital improvement tax to maintain the grounds.

"The cemetery is sacrosanct, so you don't mess with it," Rawls said.

Pence manages a crew of three employees who meticulously manicure the grounds five days per week. Workers Donald Ritchie, Clint Efaw and Lorenso Black weed around the hundreds of monuments, mow open spaces, pick up limbs and straighten plastic flower arrangements. Pence also helps sell spaces, schedule funerals and interact with grieving families.

He said he's happy to help maintain an attraction that's meaningful to residents and interesting to visitors.

"It's not as morbid of a job as you think," he said. "It's a source of pride for local people."

Grenade explodes at peruvian circus, 11 wounded.

Associated Press
July 22, 2015

LIMA, Peru – Peruvian authorities say someone exploded a grenade at a circus performance and the blast wounded 11 people, including clowns and members of the public.

Local police chief Salvador Iglesias of the San Juan de Lurigancho district of Lima says police are investigating whether extortionists were behind Tuesday night's attack.

Firefighters say most of the injured had shrapnel wounds in their legs, while four suffered hearing problems and a circus worker was hospitalized with a stomach wound.

Police say they are trying to determine whether the grenade was thrown or planted previously.


Elephant Escapes Circus, Kills Man Taking Morning Walk

Saturday June 13, 2015, Buchen Germany
A man taking his morning stroll was killed by an elephant that had escaped from a nearby circus, police said Saturday. The 65-year-old man was walking in the woods near Buchen, southwest Germany, when the elephant attacked, said a police official. The animal was returned to the circus. Police are investigating whether someone let it out of its enclosure. - AP


Dolly Jacobs to Receive the Prestigious
2015 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship

Wednesday June 10, 2015
From the WWSB ABC 7
Sarasota, FL--"I was speechless, it almost sounded like the Publisher's Clearinghouse calling me."

This was after circus performer Dolly Jacobs, also known as "Queen of the Air", received a call notifying her that she was one of nine artists selected to receive the prestigious 2015 national endowment of the arts fellowship, considered the nation's highest honor in folk and traditional arts, she said,

"You're with all different types of folk artists, whether it be musicians or handcraft or woodwork.

An award she says she is extremely proud of. "It's incredible and a great honor and I'm really moved by it."

The award comes with a $25,000, which will officially be presented on October 1st during a ceremony at the Library of Congress in the nation's capital. Jacobs says a portion of the award will go to the circus conservatory to help the next generation carry on the circus legacy.

"they say the greatest gift in life is knowledge and that is what we are doing....passing down the knowledge."

And according to Dolly, in addition to the greats who paved the way in the past, she's not the only one who should get recognition for this award.

"We have 18 full-time employees that are just incredible employees that also give their heart and soul and believe 110% in what we are doing."


Performer Falls in Houston

Sunday May 31, 2015
From KTRK-TV Houston, TX.

HOUSTON (KTRK) Reported by John Fenoglio
Dramatic video shows a circus acrobat falling into the seating area during a local performance in Houston.

It's amazing that she wasn't injured seriously given the way she fell. She is expected to be OK. You could see in the video that she completely tumbled into the audience as she was trying to execute the high wire act.

This is Circo de Hermanos Vasquez. It's a travelling circus and an official says that danger is all part of the show.

"It was a human error. These things happen at the circus. We all put all of our work in here. It's a performance. It's a live performance and that is what a lot of people don't understand," said GM of Circo Hermanos Vazquez, Lorena Vignaud. "Like balancing acts, like the strong men acts, all those kinds of acts they all have a risk. This act was one of the ones that was the highest risk of them all."

Danger is just part of doing business when you work for a circus. We watched one of the shows Sunday and it was amazing, but the acts do appear to be dangerous.


Voters Reject Bylaw Outlawing Circus

Associated Press May 06, 2015

The show will go on in Dalton (Massachusetts). Town meeting voters in the Berkshire County town on Monday rejected a bylaw that would have ended the decades-long tradition of annual visits by the Kelly Miller Circus, or similar shows featuring exotic animals. The Berkshire Eagle reported that voters rejected the circus ban 184-92. The proposed bylaw stated that ''no living nondomesticated animal shall be displayed for public entertainment or amusement in circuses, carnivals, traveling events, or other similar entities.'' A group called Berkshire Voters for Animals proposed the bylaw. The Dalton Lion's Club has raised tens of thousands of dollars by sponsoring the circus since 1994.


U.S.P.S Releases Circus Poster Stamps

The United States Postal Service is once again paying tribute to the American Circus.

On May 5, 2014 the new stamps were release at a ceremony held at the The Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota Florida.

Available for a limited time from your local Post Office or online at



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