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PEACH WEEKENDER | COVER STORY

Tradition lives on with Zenobia Shrine Circus

Elephants, acrobats will be featured in Toledo show

  • Weekender-cover-3-16

    The Perrysburg-based Zenobia Shriners have brought the circus to the area, a tradition that continues today through Sunday as it hosts its 66th annual Zenobia Shrine Circus at the SeaGate Convention Centre.

    THE BLADE
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  • Circus-crop-3-16

    The Perrysburg-based Zenobia Shriners have brought the circus to the area, a tradition that continues today through Sunday as it hosts its 66th annual Zenobia Shrine Circus at the SeaGate Convention Centre.

    THE BLADE
    Buy This Image

It’s not often that you see a man literally shot out of a cannon.

Unless, of course, you’re watching a circus, where such aerial trajectories are commonplace.

IF YOU GO: Showtimes for the Zenobia Shrine Circus at SeaGate Convention Centre are 6:30 p.m. today; 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $35 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

“The circus we use presents a great job of bringing families to it and making it enjoyable for everyone,” said Dennis Gable, circus director of the Zenobia Shriners.

For more than six decades, the Perrysburg-based Zenobia Shriners have brought the circus to the area, a tradition that continues today through Sunday as it hosts its 66th annual Zenobia Shrine Circus at the SeaGate Convention Centre.

More specifically, the Shriners have partnered with Jordan World Circus for 15 years in bringing one of the continent’s remaining traveling acrobatics-and-animals entertainments.

This weekend’s circus also includes motorcycle daredevils, camel rides, and tiger and elephant acts — the latter of note to pachyderm lovers who were saddened when Ringling Bros. Circus discontinued its elephants acts last year.

“We’ve got ground and aerial acts,” Gable said. “The acts this year are very good.”

Carol Dupuis, director of sales at the SeaGate Centre, said the acts become more exciting each year, and the venue strives to keep the show affordable.

“Those are all win-win for everyone here,” said Dupuis, who added that the venue has worked with the Shriners in hosting the circus for more than 20 years. “[The SeaGate Convention Centre] is perfect for the amount of people that come to the circus. It’s a good fit.”

The Shriners’ event allows the audience to enjoy such activities as face painting, camel rides, and getting pictures taken with clowns. Each person has a reserved seat, making it easier to enjoy the activities before the show starts without the risk of losing their seat, Gable said.

“When you go to other circuses you mostly sit and watch,” he said. “With ours you can get up close and it’s enjoyable.”

While circuses have existed in their current form since the mid-19th century, Gable noted people are still interested in seeing the live acts of elephants balancing on two feet and trapeze performers soaring through the air.

“People are still interested in seeing the circus,” he said, adding the show was previously held at the old sports arena and before each performance there would be a parade. Aside from bleachers, floor pads and carpeting installed in the facility, not much else is needed to prepare for the circus at the SeaGate Convention Centre, as performers provide their own props for each specific act.

With the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ending 146 years of elephants acts after years of protests from animal welfare activists and litigation, Gable said there aren’t any plans for elephants to disappear from the Jordan World Circus.

“From my observations behind the scenes with the animals, they are very well treated,” Gable said. “I think they’re treated better than most human beings. They live a very good life and are not harmed or put in jeopardy.”

Throw in snow cones, cotton candy, and a festive atmosphere, and Gable said the circus truly is intended for children of all ages.

“The Shriners are family oriented and we’re tied into making it for the kids to enjoy,” he said. “[It becomes] more interactive with the youth in attendance.”

Showtimes for the Zenobia Shrine Circus at SeaGate Convention Centre are 6:30 p.m. today; 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 to $35 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

Contact Geoff Burns at: gburns@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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