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Circus entertains crowds; raises funds for families

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Elephant rides were once again a popular attraction at this year's edition of the Shrine Circus, as many young people enjoyed a ride around the circus ring on one of the enormous animals.

The Shrine Circus made its return to Estevan on June 6 for its biennial show, much to the delight of the thousands of people who packed Spectra Place for three performances.

Tarzan Zerbini Productions supplied the circus acts once again this year. There was a variety of acts featuring human performers and trained animals. High-risk stunts were also part of the circus.

The Freestyle Motorshow entertained the audience with their antics on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and unicycles. Erika Zerbini brought a variety of well-trained horses to Estevan for the show.

Neecha Braun demonstrated her prowess in performing aerial maneuvers or handling dogs. The Videla Family had several clown and hula hoop routines, while the Nexus Troupe used high-wire acts and gymnastics.

"They're high-quality acts," said Estevan Circus committee chair Gene Davis.

The intermission allowed people to take a ride around the circus ring on the back of an elephant. Young people had their faces painted, posed for pictures with the performers, and purchased food and souvenirs.

"The kids all seemed to have a great time," said Davis. "There was lots of cheering. And everybody always loves the elephants."

It was also the first time that the circus has been held in Spectra Place. Organizers hoped that there wouldn't be any restrictions for the high-wire acts, some of which were offered in Estevan for the first time. But a slight adjustment was needed to one performance due to the overhead scoreboard in the middle of the venue.

"One of the acts had to be worked a little bit so that they didn't hit the scoreboard," said Davis. "But other than that, it's excellent. It's a fabulous facility."

Previous editions of the Shrine Circus have been held in the Civic Auditorium. The low ceiling at the Civic prevented some of the high wire shows from happening.

The general public could attend any one of the three performances, but the first two shows attracted a large number of elementary school students. Local businesses purchased the tickets on behalf of the students, which allowed the children from Estevan area schools to enjoy the circus.

Davis said the Shriners were hoping that the circus would attract 6,000 to 7,000 people in 2012.

There was a brief power outage prior to the first performance, but it only delayed the start of the circus by about 10 minutes.

The Shrine Circus is more than just entertainment. It's also a fundraiser. Money from the sale of tickets, and from some of the attractions during the show, will be directed to the local Shrine club's transportation fund, which is used to send children with a medical need to the Shriner's Hospital in Montreal, or their satellite hospital in Winnipeg.

The previous circus in 2010 raised about $23,000 for the local transportation fund.

The Shriners were hoping that one of the young people who has benefitted from the Shriner's Hospital would be able to attend the evening show. The child has made several trips to Winnipeg due to issues related to his kidneys.

One of the top local success stories has been that of Carter Brown, a former Estevan resident now living in Milestone. Carter couldn't be at the Estevan circus because he was swimming, which Davis said is incredible, since Carter was never expected to walk. It's also a testament to what the Shriner's Hospital can do for children.

"He just got back last night (June 5) from Montreal," said Davis. "He went there Sunday, Monday he had an appointment, Tuesday he had therapy and then he was home Tuesday night."

Estevan's performance of the Shrine Circus was the last in a 16-day tour of the province for the Zerbini crew for the Shrine Circus. Other performances were held in Regina, Saskatoon, Yorkton, Swift Current and North Battleford.


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