Smells, Sights and the Big Top Define Circus
By Rick Brown, Hub Staff Writer | KearneyHub.com
Thursday, May 31, 2012
SHERMAN, Texas — It’s the big top that sets Carson & Barnes Circus apart from all other circuses.
Traveling to more than 200 towns each year, the family-owned circus specializes in performing in a big tent. To circus spokesman Marcus Vela, this helps establish the performance as something more than just another show coming to town.
“We have a cast of more than 250 members,” Vela said from the circus’ headquarters in Texas. “We’re part of that old cloth of Americana, traveling with a big top. We’ve upheld that romanticism where a mini community comes into town early one morning at dawn. By afternoon there’s a big top in a field that was vacant the day before.”
After the performances, the circus is gone.
“That’s our circus,” he said. “What makes us unique, what sets us apart, is the big top.”
Carson & Barnes Circus stops in Kearney for two performances at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Buffalo County Fairgrounds.
“Once you’re in the big top, that’s where the distinctiveness between our circus and pretty much every other touring circus separates,” said Vela. “There’s a great intimacy that surrounds our circus because of how close you are to the performers and animals during the show.”
Vela said all senses are engaged.
“As soon as you walk into the tent you’re smelling hay for the elephants, fresh popcorn, peanuts — its intoxicating to the point where it might even make your head spin a little bit,” said Vela. “Even in the general admission seats, you’re literally sitting right on top of the ring. It’s awesome. You can’t even be that close at the zoo.”
Vela understands what a circus needs to succeed: an audience.
“The performers respond to an audience’s energy,” he said. “When you have kids clapping, their parents, grandma and grandpa clapping, all in an enclosed tent, the performers can feel it and they really put on a good show.”
Carson & Barnes circus features the usual performers: trained animals, clowns, acrobats and jugglers. Vela feels a circus is a place where families can go for pure entertainment. Everything outside of the circus stops.
“When you’re in that tent, that’s all that exists,” the spokesman said. “You’re not worrying about bills, school reports. You’re in the circus world. You can forget all your daily burdens. It’s like running away with the circus for the hour and a half you’re there.”
Vela promises magic, right in front of your eyes.
“You’ll see things you never thought you’d see,” he said. “The experience captivates people and transports them to a different setting. I think that’s really what sets the circus apart from other forms of entertainment.”