Last night at Council we were lucky enough to have two incredibly special guests join us. The first was a little man with a round face and a pointed green hat: a bobble-headed garden gnome. For many years, a gnome named Lorenzo guarded the Circus Barn. Unfortunately, there are only so many times a porcelain gnome can be hot-glued back together and as head counselor Dani Kehlmann put it, Lorenzo was quite literally “loved to pieces.” Feeling the hole left from the loss of Lorenzo, Zed Fatka, Maintenance and Facilities Manager, took on the task of getting a new gnome friend and found one just in time for summer. As Troupers tried to find a name for the gnome during Council, Trouper Lola Picayo pointed out that he looked a little Icelandic. Immediately, Gunna Bergveinsdottir, Tour and Concession Administrative Assistant and Icelandic citizen, was tasked with coming up with Icelandic names. Ultimately, it was decided that “Sven,” was most fitting. Sven comes from the Icelandic word “Sveinn” which means “lad” and conjures images of Icelandic mountain dwellers. So with a brief naming ceremony and a swish of Gunna’s magic wand, Sven was welcomed into the Smirkus family.
The second guest was none other than Rob Mermin, founder of Circus Smirkus. As Rob answered questions and told stories to Troupers of the early days of Smirkus, he painted a picture of a dilapidated farm in a snowy Northern Vermont winter with broken windows and an unstable hay loft. Where most saw a ramshackle barn, Rob saw something greater. Where a few boards once laid across beams to hold hay for horses, he built a full floor to hold classes for young circus performers. Over the years, the Circus Barn has continued to grow and expand into the place we are today. Many things have changed since that cold winter day in 1987, but the wit and wisdom that Smirkus was built on remains. Talking with Rob adds a sense of perspective to the isolated little world we live in. The places he’s been and the experiences he has had traveling with circuses all over the world are unbelievable. And now we are all gathered here, in Greensboro, Vermont, because of him.