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Circus Rolling In To Town
Van Allen Elementary students erupt in laughter at the antics of Miss Skeeter the clown during a visit to the elementary school on Friday morning. An advance clown for the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus, Skeeter entertained at several schools during the day, promoting the arrival of the circus on May 10. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Once every two years, the grounds at Hogan Field turn from soccer and baseball fields into a big top circus showcase.

It’s about to happen again, as the Escalon Lions Club brings back the Culpepper and Merriweather Great Combined Circus for a pair of shows on Friday, May 10. Circus times are 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with the performances running roughly 90 minutes, with a brief intermission between two acts.

The ‘advance clown’ to promote the circus was in town on May 3, making several stops at local schools and day care centers to alert youngsters to the coming spectacle.

“We have some super new acts,” clown Skeeter explained. “We have a ‘hair hang’ acrobat act, foot jugglers, two new young, funny slapstick clowns.”

There are also lions, tiger, a dog act, five unicyclists, a single trapeze act and more.

“We try to switch them up,” Skeeeter said of freshening up the show every couple of years.

The troupe travels for much of the year and is based out of Oklahoma. Arriving in town on Friday morning, the community is invited to watch the big top go up starting at 9:30 a.m., with a program featuring a Siberian Tiger offered at 10 a.m. and a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how the circus animals are cared for.

Advance sale tickets are available at multiple locations and offer a discount from tickets at the gate. Pre-sale is $6 for kids ages 2 to 12, $10 for adults. At the gate, cost for kids is $7 and adults are $13. Get tickets now at Mar Val Main Street Market, D’Boni’s Pizza, and Escalon Feed Store.

“This is my 29th season on the road and my 12th year with Culpepper and Merriweather,” Skeeter added. “I am originally from Ohio.”

Skeeter said that there are only 12 operating Big Tops around the country now, and this year they are marking the 220th birthday of the American Circus.

“Our youngster performer is eight years old and she was two when she started learning her first circus trick,” Skeeter said. “The circus is really a family”