Circus offers fun for all

William Thompson

Nearly 300 Tucumcari area residents enjoyed an evening performance of the circus Wednesday at the fairgrounds. The Culpepper-Merriwether Combined Circus had all the trappings one would expect from a traveling circus.

Two male clowns, Doodles and Melvino, strolled about the circus grounds prior to the show, playing tricks and making children and parents laugh. Melvino even snatched some popcorn from an unsuspecting parent. For $4, one could take a ride on Lisa the elephant who was reportedly of Asian origin. There were also pony rides for $3 and all the cotton candy, sno-cones, popcorn and peanuts to satisfy children of all ages. Darren Carey, the elephant’s handler, said children were delighted with a ride atop the mammoth beast.

“It’s always enjoyable to see the kids’ faces light up,” said Carey. “The kids are hardly ever scared, but I’ve seen grown men, bikers even, who were terrified up there on the elephant.”

Sarah Cordova, 8. rode the elephant, but was not sure if the ride was worth $4.

“It was kind of shaky and bumpy,” she said.

By showtime, the bleachers inside the big top were full of children and parents. Many of the children were eating cotton candy and holding various souvenirs their parents had bought for them. The first circus act was an acrobatic young lady referred to as “Miss Simone.” She held the audience in awe as she ascended a rope to the apex of the tent and proceeded to dangle and twirl from a large hoop with no supporting ropes. Heather Roden, 13, said she was a little nervous about Miss Simone’s high-flying act.

“I was a little nervous when I saw her hanging upside down from that hoop,” said Roden. “I was also nervous when I saw the man on the tall unicycle. I thought he might fall over.”

Melanie Jones, 3, said she was impressed with an act involving doves.

“I really like the birds (doves),” said Jones. “And it made me laugh when the clowns made funny faces at me.”

The act which aroused the most laughter from the audience was a supposed janitor sweeping up inside the ring, and his canine companion. The man swept up trash and put it in a garbage can. Whenever he would turn away, the dog would knock the garbage can over. Rachel Arbogast, a former schoolteacher and now the circus’ road office manager, said the circus would be heading to Santa Rosa early Thursday morning to do the whole show over again.

“It’s a good job for people who like routine in their life,” she said. “I did get to do about $30 worth of laundry today at the laundromat on Route 66 here in town.”