By RICK HAYES
---- — MT. VERNON — Founded during the Depression, a well-known circus is coming to Mt. Vernon on Easter weekend.
Kelly Miller Brothers Circus will be presenting shows at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 19 at the Mt. Vernon Airport.
“We’ll be in Southern Illinois on that weekend, with shows in Mascoutah on
Friday, Mt. Vernon on Saturday and Carmi on Sunday,” said Jim Royal, circus spokesman. “We’ll be spending the night in Mt. Vernon and we always go out to a restaurant and celebrate on Easter.”
The Southern Illinois swing is part of a 212 city tour that goes all the way from New Mexico to the south to New Hampshire in the east. In September, the circus will make a swing through northern Illinois. The season ends in October as the circus will travel nearly 10,000 miles during the North America tour.
Founded in 1938 by Obert Miller and his sons, Kelly and Dores, this traditional tented circus has seen the passing of the millennium and still offers great family entertainment it presented in its humble beginnings.
“There are not many circuses left that still do it in tents,” Royal pointed out. “We invite people to come out and watch on Saturday morning as we raise the big top.” The circus elephants are part of the raising of the tent and knowledgeable circus veterans will be on hand to explain the action and answer questions about circus life.
In addition to elephants Lisa and Traci, the circus will feature zebras, an aerial carousel, tigers, a juggling genius, trapeze thriller, and Fridman Torales, who stacks chairs until he reaches the top of the big top. This show will also feature Aminaa and Chandmanizaya, making their American debut, with a hand-balancing act combined with contortion.
Ringmaster John Moss III has been with Kelly Miller Circus since 2007. Royal says his experience is crucial.
“The ringmaster has to have a special talent. He is the stage manager and has to be aware of what’s going on, making sure the performance runs quickly and smoothly,” Royal said.
Both shows will run rain or shine, Royal said, unless there is threatening weather.
Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for children. The ticket box office will open at 9 a.m. on the day of the show. Prices at the gate are $15 for adults and $7 for children. The circus is offering free children’s (under 12 years of age) tickets at several businesses in Mt. Vernon up until the day of the show. They are also available at city hall and the Municipal West Building.
Tickets may also be purchased online at www.kellymillercircus.com.