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Circus coming to Pahrump

The Kiwanis Club of Pahrump Valley is sponsoring the Hugo, Oklahoma-based Culpepper and Merriweather Great Combined Circus which is coming to Pahrump at Petrack Park on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5. There will be two 90-minute shows each day at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., with a free tent-raising and behind-the-scenes tour starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Open an hour before each show, patrons can enjoy the small midway (consisting of a giant slide, a Moon Bounce, pony rides, face painting and a concession wagon), before entering the “big top.”

Trey and Simone Key are the owners and operators of the circus. Trey also doubles as the lion and tiger trainer, and Simone is the Ring Mistress and a “no safety net” trapeze artist. The other acts of the one-ring show feature a tenth-generation circus equestrian bareback comedy act, a daredevil high-wire and Wheel of Destiny duo, Leo the Clown and more.

Prior to the circus coming to town Tina Bausch, aka “Skeeter the Clown,” a 22-year veteran of the circus, performed at Pahrump’s elementary schools, preschools and day cares, entertaining the youngsters, generating excitement for the circus and hopefully creating a new generation of circus-goers.

“There’s something for everyone under the Big Top. No matter if you’re two or 102,” says Bausch, who is known as an “advance clown.”

“I am the ambassador for the circus. Plus I help the sponsor [Kiwanis] try to sell advance tickets, because that’s how they make their larger percentage… they get a smaller percentage on circus day.”

Advance tickets are available at Rubalcaba’s Mexican Restaurant, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut or by calling (775) 764-1098, and are $13 for adults, $8 for children and seniors. The day of the show, adult tickets will be $16, and children and seniors $9.

About Skeeter

Bausch, who has “been on the road for over 40 years,” is a graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. She started her clown career at the age of 28, and is fond of saying, “My BA is in broadcasting. My MBA is from Ringling Brothers, and of course that’s Master of Buffoonery of Art.”

She said that each year, the circus is on the road seven and a half months, from March to October, and visits roughly 180 towns, mostly for just a day. There are a total of 38 employees, 12 of whom are performers. Starting in the mid-80’s in Queen Creek, Arizona by Red Johnson and two others, the Culpepper Circus mostly played at school playgrounds for “pass the hat” donations.

“This is the 231st birthday of the American circus. Nothing has grown up with America like the American circus,” says Bausch.

John Clausen is a freelance journalist in Pahrump.

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