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Join the circus


Show up an hour before showtime to watch an elephant paint a picture, which will be raffled off during intermission.

Rod Lott June 22nd, 2011

Three years have passed since the iconic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus has come to town, so this week’s circus brings something special: an all-new show.

Running Thursday through Sunday at Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens, “Barnum 200” features 130 performers, including nearly 100,000 pounds of elephants.

Joe Frisco Jr. has handled pachyderms professionally for five years, having grown up around them in Peoria, Ill.

“I’m a third-generation elephant presenter and handler,” Frisco said, “and with my three kids, that fourth generation is already rockin’ and rollin’.”

Attending college on a football scholarship, he blew out his knee during play. Most athletes would spiral into depression, but not Frisco. He took it as a blessing.

“I always knew I was going to join the circus,” he said. “I’ve traveled all over the U.S. with the clichéd lions and tigers and bears, oh, my!” It’s work one has to love, he said, which he does. A lot. “It’s an amazing thing. This the second smartest animal in the world,” Frisco said. “It’s a pleasure.”

Elephants aside, he said “Barnum 200” highlights include acrobats, seven motorcycles in a globe, and of course, clowns.

“There’s something for everybody. Anything you’d like to see in a circus, you’re gonna see it,” Frisco said. “Do not be late!” Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $10 to $70.

For more information, call 602-8500 or visit coxconventioncenter.com. —Rod Lott

 
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