An army of 88 vehicles, consisting of 18-wheelers, campers and trailers, will be rolling into the Inland Northwest early next week.
The caravan will stop in three places: Spokane, Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene. After it arrives, just as the sun begins to pierce the dawn sky, hundreds of crew members will emerge from the parked vehicles and begin to erect gigantic tents.
And by the time it’s fully daylight, what was a mere vacant lot is now a major circus ground - the Carson & Barnes 5-Ring Circus.
The Carson & Barnes Circus performs in Spokane on Monday and Tuesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the vacant lot located on the corner of Sullivan and Broadway in the Valley. In Sandpoint, the circus will perform at the Bonner County Fairgrounds on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. In Coeur d’Alene the circus will play the Kootenai County Fairgrounds at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The 58-year-old Carson & Barnes Circus ranks among the world’s largest tent circuses.
Aside from employing more than 100 performers, from clowns and acrobats to tamers and aerialists, the Carson & Barnes also boasts a zoo’s worth of animals ranging from Syrian Bengal tigers to rhinoceroses. There are also camels, llamas, hippopotami, lions and zebras.
If that’s not amazing enough, this big top has the largest number of elephants - 20 - than any other circus of its kind.
Once assembled, the five-ring extravaganza covers the length of an entire football field.
The Carson & Barnes Circus has a host of whimsical balancing acts scheduled, as well.
For equestrian fans, one of the acts features Friesian stallions, a breed of horses commonly found in Holland, that was nearly wiped out by Hitler’s Nazis during World War II.
If people want to learn more about what goes into putting on a largescale circus production, they can go out to any of the three sites at dawn and watch the building process.
Prior to each performance, there will be an educational exhibit for those who want to learn more about the performing animals.
Advance tickets for all Inland Northwest shows are $8, $4 for children. Tickets at the gate are $1 more.
Advance ticket outlets for the Spokane performances are available at Tidyman’s stores in Spokane and Post Falls.
For the Coeur d’Alene shows, advance tickets are available at Tidyman’s, Special Occasion, First Interstate Bank, First Security Bank, Kmart, Stein’s IGA in Kellogg and at the Chamber of Commerce.
In Sandpoint, tickets are available at Sandpoint Super Drugs, Yoke’s Pac ‘n Save, Sharon’s Hallmark, Paul’s Chevron, Priest River Times, the Chamber of Commerce and Sims in Bonner’s Ferry.