The Carson and Barnes Circus brought the big top and big animals from the past and present to Texoma Friday, when it stopped at Midway Mall for three days of shows. For its 81st tour, the circus will be performing its “Circus-saurus” show, featuring dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, cave men and a giant hatching dinosaur egg.
The circus will be in town Friday through Sunday with shows at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“We are trying to bring it back to what it once was because this is what the kids want to see most,” Ringmaster Erik Bautista said, referring to animal, clown and acrobatic acts the circus features.
This is the sixth year in a row that the Denison Kiwanis Club has sponsored the circus. President Joanella Hanes said the proceeds from the circus will be used for a scholarship for Denison High School students.
In an age where cellphones, computers and the internet demand the attention of many people, Hanes said the circus takes her back to her childhood unlike anything else.
“It is like going back to my younger days with going to the circus,” she said. “It is like being a child at heart.”
Beyond the show itself, the circus also featured a petting zoo with goats, llamas, ponies and a horse. To kick off the circus, Sherman Fire-Rescue helped give the elephants their daily bath. For some of the firefighters, this was a first.
“I've gotten a cat out of a tree, but I've never bathed an elephant until today,” Captain Chad Martin said with a chuckle.
For his part, Bautista said he was born into the industry, with parents who were performers. In his time with the show, he said he has done and seen it all. For the past two years, however, he has focused on being the travelling show's ringmaster.
“I've done everything from jugging to shovelling elephant manure to putting up the tents,” he said.
Despite the cliche of running away with the circus, Bautista said it isn't a life for everyone. Though he's based in Hugo, Oklahoma, he said he does a lot of travelling with the circus, which did more than 550 shows in 2017.
In the past week, the circus has performed in McKinney and most recently Longview on Thursday. Following the local shows, the circus will move on to Ardmore and Bowie, Texas, next week.
“It isn't for everyone and I've seen a lot of people come and go,” he said. “I've tried to go several times, but I kept coming back to it.”
In his time away from the circus, Bautista said he tried doing other things, including a motorcycle stunt show, but returned to his roots about four years ago and has stuck with it since.
With regard to the touring, however, he said the circus no longer travels year round and mostly focuses on the spring and early fall months for its tours, with winter and summer spent back home.