NOTE FROM ANDREW: The lede for this story did not age well. Due to coronavirus concerns, the Moila Shrine Circus has been canceled.
In its 67 years of visiting St. Joseph, the Moila Shrine Circus has survived a lot — changes in technology, venues and competing circuses. Now, it will be dealing with news involving a pandemic.
The show will go on this weekend, Timothy Tegge, ringmaster for the Royal Hanneford Circus, which puts on the show, said. Precautions are being taken to calm coronavirus fears.
“It’s going to be OK, and we just hope that people will kind of forget about the problems right now and go out and have a good time,” he said.
The circus will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, March 13, at 10:30 a.m., 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, and at 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15, at Civic Arena, 100 N. Fourth St.
In order to bring out the crowds, Tegge said the circus has had to keep its show fresh, bringing in new animals and human performers to give audiences a new experience every time they come.
“We change the show every year substantially, to the point where those folks that come annually ... They always comment on how it’s different this year than it was last year,” he said.
At its core, the circus still has all the elements that bring large crowds every year.
“It’s a traditional three-ring circus. We have all the staples that you would expect out of any show, the lions and tigers performing, camels, — you know, all sorts of animals. We have probably one of the greatest flying trapeze acts in the business today,” Tegge said.
What is it about the Royal Hanneford Circus that keeps it going, outlasting popular competitors like the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which folded in 2017?
“When Ringling Brothers ... announced that they weren’t going to do this anymore and it sent this thought around the country that the circus was dead — that’s not at all the case. It’s very much alive,” Tegge said.
All it takes is a trip to the circus, Tegge said, to watch people’s eyes light up at the high-flying trapeze acts and animal performers to see how alive it is.
“The public wants to see it. There’s no question about it,” he said.
There’s also the issue of the treatment of the animals, which Tegge said is often brought up. He said all of the animals are trained and treated well.
“Anyone who works in the business, whether it’s circus or the zoos or anything like that, they really have to follow very rigid governmental restrictions on being able to carry them in the first place, to work with (animals),” he said.
At the end of the day, Tegge said people want to know the animals are cared for and the show is as spell-binding as they remember from their childhood.
“You have to know what you’re doing and you have to prove yourself, and that’s what we’ve done. They love to see the animals perform and the humans perform. When you have experts in their field perform, it’s very much appreciated by the public,” he said.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children. Every paid adult ticket also will admit one child under the age of 12. Tickets are available at Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, Green Hills Grocery and the Civic Center box office.