<i>Peanuts...Popcorn</i><br>An American tradition comes to town

Photos by John Rougeou

The Carson & Barnes 5-Ring Circus is the largest traditional big top circus touring America today.

The event is hosted by the Kiwanis Clubs of the Verde Valley, which will receive a large portion of the proceeds from advance ticket sales. The Kiwanis Clubs will use its proceeds to support youth activities throughout the Verde Valley.

Patrons can save 30 percent if they buy tickets early. Advance adult tickets are $10 and $5 for children ages 2-11; children under 2 admitted free. Tickets at the gate cost $14 for adults and $7 for children ages 2-11.

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, April 13, at the following locations: all Circle K locations throughout the Verde Valley, Bashas' in Sedona and Camp Verde, Weber's IGA in VOC, Camp Verde public library, Cafe Jose in Sedona, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation office, and Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce.

Carson & Barnes brings its city-block long "Biggest Big Top on Earth" to some 230 towns and cities each season, moving to a new site nearly every day, seven days a week. Emphasis is on bringing this type of family entertainment to communities of America where local civic organizations often share in the advance ticket sale proceeds. While other circuses have reduced its size, Carson & Barnes has expanded and is the only organization still capable of moving a huge show of some 80 vehicles, including trucks, trailers and RV’s every 24 hours.

The four-generation Miller family has successfully owned and operated Carson & Barnes for 66 years. The late DR Miller, founder, and known as "Mr. Circus," was recently inducted into the "Circus Ring of Fame" in Sarasota, Fla., and the "Circus Hall Of Fame" in Peru, Ind. His legacy of American family entertainment is being carried on by his daughter, Barbara Miller Byrd and her husband, Geary Byrd, and his granddaughters’ families who are involved in the day-to-day hands-on operation and movement of this complex, multi-faceted community.

Carson & Barnes is circus history and magic recreated before your eyes, making for a great media event. Elephants still help erect the big top and the general public is invited to the setup at Riverfront Park circus morning to watch.

More than 100 exotic and domestic animals are unloaded, fed and watered as soon as the huge transports pull onto the grounds. Early birds can watch as the first units of the 80-vehicle caravan begin arriving about an hour after dawn and continue to file in most of the morning. Four hundred stakes, 134 poles and several miles of cables and ropes are laid out and prepared as the crew and trained elephants push, pull and lift the 300-foot Big Top of the shining polyvinyl auditorium 40 feet into the air.

The performers are artists from around the world, including the United States, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Russia and Italy. Acts consist of aerial, trapeze and acrobatic teams, jugglers and clowns, along with performing elephants, lions and tigers, camels, dogs and horses. A highlight of the show is our Grand Spectacular Parade, which this year features a Spanish theme with beautiful hand made costumes and animal blankets.

The Carson & Barnes Circus and the Miller/Byrd families have established the Endangered Ark Foundation to provide for endangered species, and operate a breeding program for the extremely endangered Asian elephant. This facility will have its grand opening and dedication this year. The 4-year-old baby elephant Jennie, who performs center ring, is very special to the circus, as she is the first live birth from the breeding program for endangered Asian elephants.

For information about the Carson & Barnes Circus, visit www.carsonbarnescircus.com.

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