Cape Gazette
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The Greatest Show on Earth

By Ron MacArthur | Mar 12, 2013
Photo by: Ron MacArthur In this classic circus pose, three elephants take a seat on command. Brett and Cathy Carden are animal trainers in this edition of the circus, one of four on national tour.

It's been a long time since I last attended a circus. But with twin grandchildren, visits to the circus are back on the schedule. We attended the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Wicomico Civic Center last week and enjoyed every minute of it.

Although the circus dates back to ancient Rome, the circus as we know it has European roots in the late 18th century. And the American circus can trace its beginnings to the same circus that still travels the country. In the late 1800s and into the early 1900s, the Ringling Brothers, James Bailey and P.T. Barnum bought up most of the small traveling circuses and eventually merged.

In 1881, Barnum and Bailey merged and then in 1907, the Ringling Brothers purchased Barnum and Bailey. Two circuses operated until they merged into The Greatest Show on Earth in 1919.

Although the circus has kept up with the times offering modern rock music and laser light shows, it still maintains a strong hold to the past. Many of the same acts are as popular today as they were more than 100 years ago. People are still thrilled by tight-rope walkers, acrobats, animal acts, elephants, clowns and knife throwers.

 

Trainer Cathy Carden, a seventh-generation circus performer, works with her ensemble of dogs. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Strong-man Battulga Battogtokh is from Mongolia. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
A member of the Smaha Troupe of Russia juggles during the show. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Sergey Novikov of the Ukraine performs high above the crowd. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Pretending to be strong is Dean Kelley, a clown from Kansas City. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
One of the most talented performers in the show is Anton Franke, who is paired with his father. Not only does Anton juggle, but he plays the drums, jumps on a trampoline and performs a light show. The family comes from Russia. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Camels are among several animals that perform in the gold edition of the circus. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Anton Franke works with lasers in a high-tech show. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
The Lopez Troupe renews the circus tradition of knife throwing. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
A Shetland pony does the moon walk to the music of Michael Jackson. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Elephants take a stand during The Greatest Show on Earth. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
Camels and horses take center stage. (Photo by: Ron MacArthur)
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