The Moila Shrine Circus may be turning 60, but it remains a youthful family event.
In six shows, starting at 7 p.m. March 8 through its last performance at 5 p.m. March 10, the circus will offer the signature show it has been giving since 1953.
“I was just being born at that time, so it’s quite a deal that 60 years of anything, I don’t care what your entity is, to keep 60 years of this going on and it’s been very good to us and the community has been very good to us,” Rex Strayer, public relations director of the Moila Shrine Temple in St. Joseph, says.
The show has come a long way since its initial inception, being performed under a big top then moving to Phil Welch Stadium before it found its home at Civic Arena in St. Joseph.
“When you get your building events and stuff, it moves everything indoors. It’s not like when I was growing up as a kid — if you went to the circus, you went outside. You went under a tent and had a circus,” Strayer says.
In the past, the circus, which is performed by the Royal Hanneford Circus, which has partnered with the Moila Shrine in St. Joseph since 1998, has booked such high-flying performers as high-wire act the Lopez Brothers, the Anastisini Bros. and Angela Martin.
Though it hasn’t been revealed who will perform at this incarnation of the annual circus, audiences can expect its signature elephants, monkeys, dogs and maybe some Bengal tigers.
Best of all, it’s a huge circus that’s made affordable for all families.
“This is the biggest in a 60- to 100-mile radius that families can come and enjoy without going to Kansas City and not paying an arm and a leg,” Strayer says.
He adds: “We’ve got a low-price ticket ... for a whole family. Our highest-priced novelty is $5 when the kids come in there. We make it affordable so they can come in there and spend time with their families itself and have a good time at a low cost.”
Some proceeds from ticket sales go to pay for the Moila Shrine building at 701 N. Noyes Blvd.
“That’s our major fundraiser for the year. It keeps the lights on. It helps us with repairs, so that’s where the money goes,” Strayer says. “This is an operation that keeps our building maintained, is what it does.”
Working with children with disabilities, Moila Shriners know what it’s like to be a kid viewing all of the wonders and spectacles of the circus. Giving children the chance to meet the performers and sit close to the animals while not breaking the bank for parents is the goal.
“We don’t charge $25 a head like Kansas City or $50. We charge $12 for adults, $6 for kids and we put a kid’s ticket in the paper with adult admission. Basically, we’re making it easy for the kids 12 and under,” Strayer says.
The Moila Shrine Circus will open at 7 p.m. March 8. Performances will continue at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 9, and two final performances will be held at 1 and 5 p.m. March 10.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children. They can be purchased at the Moila Shrine Temple, Civic Arena, Hy-Vee, Green Hills, Kovac’s and several other locations. Guests also may print off one free child’s pass at moila.org.
For more information, call the Moila Shrine Temple at 262-1237.