The jump from Saratoga Springs, New York to Essex Junction, Vermont was a long one, but after an early start to the day the Troupers and staff made it to the Champlain Valley Exposition without a hitch.
The Champlain Valley Expo – “CVE” – is an event facility just a few miles from Downtown Burlington, and the biggest site we’ve had so far. While the Champlain Valley Fair will be happening right there later this summer, for now most of the fair ground aside from the Smirkus lot was quiet. Just past the “pie car” (the mobile kitchen where the four cooks prepare three meals a day for the Troupers and staff) and “dink hole” (the mobile mess hall, of sorts – green picnic tables under a blue and white tent where everyone sits to eat) and to the far side of the Big Top were wooden stands with signs advertising onion rings, New York-style pizza, and other traditional fair foods (those these weren’t open while Smirkus was on site)… although Smirkus guests are able to choose from hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, and lemonade in the concessions tent!
One of the most fun parts of tour is getting to explore different areas. Of course, there are specialty shops and unique restaurants in every city, but in Essex we were lucky because a Smirkus favorite was located right across the street… Dunkin’ Donuts! In the mornings and between shows, staff and Troupers stopped by for a quick cup of coffee or a donut… Troupers Whistle and Bekk even rode their unicycles over!
The impact of Circus Smirkus is shown across all age groups- young or old, we all laugh together. A few friends of mine stopped by the show on Tuesday evening, and when I asked them what they thought and what their favorite part was, one said he thought it was “incredible” and another said he loved the show because “It made me feel like I was five years old again!” Seventeen shows in to our 2013 Big Top Tour, we’ve had audience members of all ages – from young children who sit on the “kiddie mats” right next to the ring (that’s right Smirkus fans… your little ones will get a FRONT ROW SEAT if they come to a show!) to grandparents who are accompanying their grandchild after a week at Smirkus Camp (many campers go on to be Troupers – in fact, fifteen of this years’ Troupers were former campers!).
Part of the excitement of the circus is its’ juxtaposition of acts: juggling and clowning and acrobatics, and more all in one show; one act followed by another completely different one keeps the audience on their toes. This juxtaposition and combination is what allows Smirkus to appeal to such a variety of people. We have Troupers and staff from all over the country and all over the world. Every person at the show is different from the last, and while everyone has their own favorite part – one little boy I met on Thursday was VERY excited to see the acrobats, and another couldn’t stop laughing at the clowns – whether we are young or old, we all laugh together.