STEUBENVILLE - Sarah Krupinski stood on the sidewalk with her grandfather as the circus trucks pulled into the Fort Steuben Mall parking lot this morning.
"That man has a beautiful husky, but I can't wait to see the elephants," the 7-year-old said.
"We will be coming back later with the rest of the family to see the show," promised Sarah's grandfather, Jerry Krupinski.
HERE COME THE ELEPHANTS — John Walker III, a fifth-generation animal trainer with the Carson and Barnes Circus, prepared to unload his two female Asian elephants this morning at the Fort Steuben Mall. The circus will have shows today at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the mall parking lot as part of a fundraiser for the Grand Theater restoration project. - Dave Gossett
The elephants were still in their trailer this morning waiting for the set-up boss to arrive to arrange the trucks for today's two shows by the Carson and Barnes Circus.
John Walker III, a fifth-generation animal trainer, coaxed his two female Asian elephants to pose for a photo.
"This one is Kelly. She weighs 9,000 pounds, and this elephant is Viola. She weighs 10,000 pounds. These elephants are part of my family," he explained.
The Carson and Barnes Circus arrived at the Fort Steuben Mall this morning and immediately started unloading the petting zoo animals and making them comfortable for their one-day visit.
"Our trucks rolled into the city early this morning after a three-day stay in Washington, Pa., and our 125-member traveling staff immediately started setting up for the two shows today," explained Barbara Miller-Byrd, co-owner of the circus.
"Our big-top tent will be up by noon and we will have some quiet time until about 2:30 today. But the free petting zoo will be open. Children are welcome to come and interact with our petting zoo animals and to view the elephants. And we welcome visitors to come out and watch us prepare for our 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances," said Miller-Byrd.
"We are very proud of our big-top tent. It is in the European style and I frankly believe a circus can really be experienced and enjoyed under a big-top tent," she added.
"We offer a two-hour show that will include elephant rides and the elephants performing. We have the flying trapeze, a motorcycle rider on a cable and a world-famous contortionist," cited Miller-Byrd.
"And, of course, we have Alex our clown. He is not a traditional clown, but he appeals to all ages. He is one of our main stars. We also have performing dogs and ponies and the famous Appaloosa act where the horses run free in the center ring while a young woman directs them through their paces," continued Miller-Byrd.
"We offer a big American patriotic show, and it includes everything you can expect to see at an old-fashioned traveling circus," Miller-Byrd added.
"We will be spending between $5,000 and $6,000 on Monday in the city. We will be buying food for our animals as well as our circus staff. And some of our people will be shopping for things they need while they are on the road," she noted.
The Carson and Barnes Circus was started in 1937 by Miller-Byrd's grandparents.
"My daughters and their husbands are the fourth-generation co-owners of the circus, and we have five grandchildren traveling with the circus this year. It is a true family affair for us. And we create memories for people to share with their children," noted Miller-Byrd.
"We have a teacher on staff while we are on the road to hold classes every day for the circus children. Then, when we return to Oklahoma, in the fall the children attend the regular school. So they are educated on a year-round basis," according to Miller-Byrd.
The Grand Theater Restoration Project is hosting the circus in the Fort Steuben Mall parking Lot.
"We want to thank the Fort Steuben Mall for providing space in the parking lot for the circus. The Carson and Barnes Circus is the largest under-canvas big top show still traveling across the United States. This is an opportunity for old-fashioned family fun and a chance to support our restoration efforts at the Grand Theater," said Scott Dressel, chairman of the Grand Theater board of directors.
"Tickets will be sold for $8 for children and $16 for adults on the day of the circus," said Dressel.
"We will start tearing down and packing up immediately after the 7:30 p.m. show and will be traveling to our next stop in East Liverpool," remarked Miller-Byrd.
"Our first step will be to feed and water our animals and make sure they are bedded down for the night. And then we will be on the road for the next show," she said.