Five-ring circus brings exotic animals to ‘Boat
When the Carson & Barnes Circus rolls into Steamboat Springs on Thursday, it promises “more than 100,000 pounds of performing pachyderms,” “fearless feats on the flying trapeze,” “aerial ballet at the apex,” “hurricane hula hoopery” and, of course, “clowns, clowns, clowns.”
All that excitement comes under a big top that is longer than a football field and gets raised the old fashioned way: using elephants. It is a tent city that moves more than 200 times a year, including a stop in Craig the day before and Kremmling the day after a double-feature Thursday night in Steamboat.
Carson & Barnes Circus performs acts in five rings at once and reports it is the largest traveling big-top circus on Earth. In all, the show includes about 100 animals and more than 60 performers.
The traveling circus includes such exotic animals as a Bengal tiger, a giraffe, hippopotamus, camels, lions, llamas and snakes, and the cast of performers hails from as far as Russia, Argentina, Italy and Peru. All the traditional circus acts can be expected, including juggling, dog tricks, horse acts and more.
New to the Carson & Barnes Circus this year is the Cardenas family’s high-wire act. The Columbian family forms a seven-person pyramid on a taut wire suspended high above the circus floor and reportedly is the only act in the United States to perform such a feat.
Another featured act is the “Gaucho Extravaganza,” performed by the Fusco family from Argentina. It includes cracking and sparkling whips reminiscent of the ones used on the Argentinian pampas, or plains.
Carson & Barnes Circus is owned and operated by the family that started it 68 years ago. It had humble beginnings with a dog and a trick pony, but the circus has grown as it has been passed down through the generations. Starting from Hugo, Okla., each spring, the big top travels across America for nearly nine months each year until it arrives home for a three-month winter break.
These days, Barbara Miller Byrd, the granddaughter of Carson & Barnes Circus founder D.R. Miller, owns the circus. She worked with elephants when she was younger, but now finds herself, along with her daughters and the circus performers they each married, taking care of the business side of things.
The long caravan of circus vehicles will start rolling into Steamboat early Thursday morning to set up the giant tent in the Meadows parking lot. Anyone interested in watching the elephants pull up the big top or the ongoing feeding, grooming and care of the animals is invited to stop by the grounds for a free visit throughout the day.
The circus shows start at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., and tickets will be available at the gate.
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