If your eyes still well with tears at the demise of Ringling Brothers last year, dry your eyes. Single-ring circus spectacles still abound, and one is headed for Fennimore next week.
Brought by the Fennimore Chamber of Commerce, the Culpepper & Merriweather Great Combined Circus will throw up their giant blue-striped tent in the parking lot next to the Fennimore Municipal Pool (located between 7th and 8th Streets) on Sunday, Aug. 5.
Culpepper & Merriweather will begin putting the tent up between 9:30 and 10 a.m. They encourage the community to watch the spectacle as they prepare the rigging for performances, unload the animals, and prepare to entertain the crowds. A free tour is offered once the tent is ready, giving you an opportunity to meet the performers and view their preparations at close hand. They will share facts and history about their show, the animals that perform, and their “Circus Family”.
Return in the afternoon for one of two performances – 2-3:30 p.m. or 4-6 – to see Miss Simone (pictured above) on the trapeze, Miss Paulina’s prancing ponies, the Arlise Troupe of unicyclists, Natalie’s American Eskimo Escapades, contortionist Miss Georgia, the Wheel of Destiny and tight rope tricks by The Perez Family, jungle cats Solomon, Delilah and Francis, and more. All of the acts are accompanied by original circus music composed by California musician Matt Margucci.
You can save on tickets by purchasing them ahead of time for $10 for adults, $7 for seniors 65 and older or children between 2 and 12, children under 2 are free. They are available at Peoples State Bank, American Bank, Clare Bank, and Carr Valley Cheese. Tickets purchased on show day are $13 and $8, respectively. The circus box office opens at 1 p.m. on the day of the show.
Starting an hour before the show, they offer bouncy houses, a 22-foot slide, pony rides, face painting and a concession stand. Cash is accepted directly at each attraction.
Culpepper & Merriweather Great Combined Circus had very humble beginnings. In 1985, Robert Johnson, Jim Hebert and Curtis Cainan started a small show. The three alternated announcing, performing and selling concessions during each performance for the first year. They didn't sell tickets, instead relying on donations received from passing a hat at the end of each show. Oblivious to everyone in the business who told them they could never succeed, they were able to gradually add employees, equipment and animals over the years.
The circus, which has since changed hands, is based in Hugo, Okla., deep in the beautiful Red River Valley. Hugo is known as "Circus City, USA" for a good reason. Culpepper & Merriweather is the 20th circus to call Hugo home since 1941, and the third active circus currently operating from the seat of Choctaw County.
The Culpepper & Merriweather circus has been featured on National Geographic’s Explorer TV series, Entertainment Tonight, the A&E special “Under the Big Top, the Nickelodean Nick News special “On the Road with Circus Kids,” as well as in newsprint and magazines.