FLETCHER – The Big Top and all of its performers are coming to Fletcher Oct. 2 for two sensational shows that are bound to capture the interest of children and adults alike.
The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, which is based in Hugo, Oklahoma, will raise the performing tent at 9 a.m. and deliver death-defying acts at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. for area residents to enjoy.
The circus came to Fletcher three years ago and played to sellout audiences, said Fletcher Town Clerk Nettie Fisher.
“It’s a nice show,” she said. “I was impressed and thought it was good and I got lots of good comments from people who attended. It’s on a small scale but they still have trapeze acts and the big cats. It was good old-fashioned family fun.”
That’s what circus performers and organizers are hoping for this time around during the two 90-minute shows.
Circus spokesman Doug Stalker said the circus performs 220 consecutive days across 18 states with acrobats, clowns, high-wire acts and a variety of animals including tigers, lions and horses. Elephants are not a part of this year’s circus, he said.
Area residents are invited to attend the raising of the Big Tent at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2 at Fletcher Fairgrounds. Pony rides and moon bounces will be part of the attractions before the two afternoon performances, Fisher said.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the circus to stay home in 2020, but last year it enjoyed a record year, Stalker said. So far in 2022, the circus is drawing even better crowds as people are staying home for their entertainment due to high gas prices, he said.
“They’re coming out in record numbers,” said Stalker, who added that the circus typically draws about 600 people per show. “We are really catering to parents and grandparents of elementary-age students who enjoy seeing the animals, clowns and acrobats. People are doing things kids can relate to.”
New to the circus this year is Brandon Ayala on the Rola Bola, the Loyal Family 10th generation bareback riders, Kelly Leeth on aerial silks and the Keeth duo on aerial cradle. Also included in the shows are big cats Delilah and Solomon who came to the circus after a roadside zoo was shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The two cats are brother and sister golden tabby tigers and have been together their entire lives, the circus website shows.
The newest animal addition, Wendell the Lion, came to the circus after he was surrendered by an exotic pet owner after the lion grew too big to manage. Right now, the goal is for Wendell to get on his seat, sit next to Delilah and then leave the ring when the act is over, according to the web site.
Advance tickets are available at Fletcher Town Hall and are $12 for adults and $7 for children. If purchased at the gate, ticket prices are $13 for adults and $8 for children.
For more information about the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, visit www.cmcircus.com.