The old-fashioned traveling circus is an oasis of magic. Overnight, it seems, the striped Big Top mushrooms over a grassy field. The elephant, the aerialists, the trick dogs amaze everyone from child to adult. The next day the field is empty. The circus has gone.
This year the Roberts Brothers Three-Ring Circus is traveling through Carroll County. Since April it has meandered through every small town from Florida to Maine, through states as far west as Ohio and back.
On Sept. 15, you'll find the circus at the New Windsor carnival grounds. It's in Gamber Friday.
On Monday, the show will move to the Manchester carnival grounds off York Street. Two daily shows will be presented, at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Part of the admission benefits the sponsoring fire companies. Local businesses sponsor discount tickets.
Five years ago, when the Roberts Brothers Circus camped out in Hampstead, I watched the Big Top go up.
In four hours, an empty field became a three-ring circus. A grassy, level field, the ringmaster told me then, is what the circus likes best. It's an open place to tether the animals. A site to plop down a portable town of camping vehicles. A place where the 40 to 45 circus performers and crew can call home for that one night.
Back then, Brian LaPalme was ringmaster, magician and cook. He offered me breakfast, a plate piled with at least three servings of fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. The circus life is a hearty one. Everyone lives and works outdoors for the circus season, April to November.
It's a magic life for the performers. Most of them, I was told, want something instead of routine 9-to-5 employment. I met the circus electrician, who was driving tent spikes into the ground. He worked as a disc jockey in winter.
I met Bob Lawson, who joined the circus at age 15, many moons ago, after the show performed in his West Virginia hometown. He would return home to be a printer for the weekly newspaper when not on the circus trail. He handled the elephant then. He's got horses now, for the liberty horse act, new this summer.
It's magic to be in the circus, and hard work. I saw the bravado of girls in leotards, dangling high in the air during daily practice.
This year, a pair of young girls, 12 and 15, will dangle like spiders and do aerial tricks. Theirs is called the "cradle act" -- which means they use a safety net. They're attending school on the road.
It's magic when the animals perform. The cumbersome elephant patiently raises herself up on two feet, or sits on a tub. A dozen or more dogs scramble through hoops and skits too fast to be remembered.
It's magic when children ride the fuzzy shoulders of the elephant. Where else in Manchester can you ride an elephant? Rides are given before and after the show.
There are other classical acts. A man walks atop a huge ball. The horses circle, holding acrobats aloft. Weaving through the show are lots of raucous clowns and jugglers.
Five years ago, the performers gave top quality, never bawdy, entertainment. This year, with ringmaster Bill Schreiber, you can expect the same wholesome family entertainment, said circus publicist Ken Dennis from his Sarasota office.
Parents and students at Spring Garden Elementary School are always "thinking spring."
On Friday, the school's spring flowering bulb sale began. The PTA annually raises thousands of dollars by selling the bulbs. The school benefits from the funds. Folks who buy the bulbs benefit for years to come, as the bulbs bloom and multiply.
Contact any Spring Garden student to select daffodils or tulips for your home. The sale ends Sept. 26.
Does your boy, in grades second through fifth, want to join the Cub Scouts?
Come to the Cub Scout Roundup at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Hampstead and Spring Garden elementary schools. Prospective Cubs and parents should come to see a display of projects and hear about activities for the year.