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Family fun under the Big Top

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PALMER – Children of all ages filled the circus tent for the 7:30 p.m. performance of the Kelly Miller Circus March 26 in the field next to Palmer Elementary.

The second of two performances in the one-day stand gave a nice country feel to a usual big-city event.

Before the show, visitors enjoyed camel, elephant, and pony rides as well as a toy store and circus snack bar with the usual circus fare of popcorn, peanuts, and cotton candy.

For the first time in nearly 25 years, the performance included a wild animal act consisting of three adult tigers that wowed the crowd by jumping over each other and through hoops simultaneously.

Three of the elephants gave their own performance during the show bringing claps and screams of delight from the audience through a series of synchronized steps.

Other performing acts included several aerial balancing routines, an assembly of performing American Eskimo dogs, rope performers, and a variety of very amusing clowns.

The Kelly Miller Circus was started in 1938 by Obert Miller, who had two sons, Kelly and D.R.

In 1984, the circus was taken over by a third generation circus performer named David Rawls who oversaw the running of the circus until 2006, when John Ringling North II became the new proprietor.

North was born in Sarasota, Fla. and is kin to the famous Ringling Brothers of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey.

In a one-on-one interview, North confided that he would still be a part of the Ringling Brothers circus except Ringling Brothers now performs inside buildings and Mr. North believes that circus goers do not experience the true ambiance of a circus unless it is held under a big top tent.

Imported from Italy and seating 1,500 people, the Kelly Miller big top has plenty of ambiance.

The circus is on the road performing for 32 weeks a year, mostly one-day venues, but occasionally two-day stands. On average, the traveling circus covers around 10,000 miles and 15 states a year.

The animals and performers winter in Hugo, Oklahoma which is also the winter home of the Carson & Barnes Circus and is dubbed "Circus Town, USA."

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