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Human, animal performers delight audience in 'big top' Elephants entertain the audience at the Carson & Barnes Circus near Westfield Franklin Park. The circus, which has a total of 27 elephants, introduced pachyderm personalities Viola and Kelly.
Elephants entertain the audience at the Carson & Barnes Circus near Westfield Franklin Park. The circus, which has a total of 27 elephants, introduced pachyderm personalities Viola and Kelly.
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Published: Sunday, 7/1/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Human, animal performers delight audience in 'big top' performance

BY LIYAN CHEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

For four generations, the Carson & Barnes Circus has toured North America and brought traditional "big-top" entertainment to many American families.

But while it focuses on smaller towns, often stopping in a different community each day, it's putting on five shows this weekend in Toledo under a tent set up right next to Westfield Franklin Park mall.

Photos: Carson & Barnes Circus visits Toledo

Jacqueline Coronel of Peru spins multiple hoops in her act during the two-hour circus show. Jacqueline Coronel of Peru spins multiple hoops in her act during the two-hour circus show.
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"We want to make an impact on local communities. … We pride ourselves to be a family business. We want families to come and enjoy themselves," said Barbara Miller Byrd, the owner and president of the circus.

The two-hour shows on Saturday were full of excitement and surprise.

After the patriotic opening dance, Alex the Clown greeted the audience with his trampoline act.

Then the audience held its breath as performers did various perilous stunts, such as riding a motorcycle on the high wire.

The circus brought together performers from around the globe. Kevin Bernal from Colombia impressed the crowd with his extreme body contortion. Jacqueline Coronel from Peru charmed them by simultaneously spinning multiple hoops.

While professional circus performers amazed the audience, the animals brought laughter and fun. The show featured various animal acts, such as a dog and pony show and an animal parade.

The circus also introduced its stars, two Asian elephants named Viola and Kelly. The circus has a total of 27 elephants at its base in Hugo, Okla., and they are named for family members of the circus.

In addition to the shows, audience members were able to interact with the animals at the petting zoo, which offers elephant, camel, and pony rides.

The circus was founded in 1937 by the family in Saratosa, Fla. Since then, its travels to about 200 towns a year have produced more than 30,000 performances.

"Our shows change every year, because we want them to be fresh and new," Mrs. Byrd said.

In one of the many animal acts, dogs perform tricks. In addition to the circus performances Saturday, attendees could interact with animals at the petting zoo that offers elephant, camel, and pony rides. In one of the many animal acts, dogs perform tricks. In addition to the circus performances Saturday, attendees could interact with animals at the petting zoo that offers elephant, camel, and pony rides.
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Most of the circus' destinations have populations between 10,000 and 50,000.

"The most exciting thing is to visit small towns where people don't get to see many shows like ours. It feels great when the whole community gets excited about our show," said Traci Byrd Cavallini, vice president of the circus. Mrs. Cavaillini is Mrs. Byrd's daughter.

After the circus arrives at a new destination, it takes four to five hours to set up everything. The circus usually puts on two shows a day. After the shows, the circus has to tear down everything and quickly get ready for the next location.

"We face many challenges since we travel almost every day, but we stay very organized." Mrs. Cavallini said.

She said the success of the circus comes from the family's hard work and passion for performing. "It is all in our blood. The circus is part of who we are," Mrs. Cavallini said.

The circus is to perform twice more in Toledo today, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., before heading to Delaware, Ohio, for shows Monday.

Contact Liyan Chen at: lchen@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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