Johnstown will welcome circus to town May 13

ThisWeek Community Newspapers – February 17, 2012

By SCOTT RAWDON 

Johnstown Village Council member Chris Speck confirmed for The Independent Feb. 16 that the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus will perform for Johnstown May 13, with shows at 2:30 and 4 p.m.

“I’m pretty excited about all this,” he said. “It’s been a long time since the circus has been in town, if ever.”

He said tickets will go on sale about a month prior to the show and will be available at most Johnstown businesses. They will cost $6 for children, $9 for adults and he believes that children under 2 will be admitted for free.

There will be a tent-raising at 10 a.m. the day of the show.

Downtown Johnstown Inc., is sponsoring the event, Speck said.

“They came to us,” he said. Speck said the Hugo, Okla.-based circus contacted Downtown Johnstown, looking for an organization to bring it to town. A Culpepper & Merriweather spokesperson said the circus will send an “advance clown” to Johnstown a week or two ahead of May 13 just to make sure everyone remembers the circus is coming.

According to the Culpepper & Merriweather website, the circus features all sorts of animal acts and performers, including performing camels, a high wire act, a dog and pony revue, several trapeze and unicycle performers, and, of course, clowns.

The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus had very humble beginnings, the website relates.

In 1985, Robert Johnson, Jim Hebert and Curtis Cainan started a small show. The three alternated announcing, performing and selling concessions during each performance for the first year. They didn’t sell tickets, instead relying on donations received from passing a hat.

Oblivious to everyone in the business who told them they could never succeed, they were able to gradually add employees, equipment and animals over the years, the site states.

The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus was based in Queen Creek, Ariz., until 2001, when new ownership moved its base of operations to Hugo, deep in the Red River Valley. Hugo is known as “Circus City, USA” for a good reason. The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus is the 20th circus to call Hugo home since 1941, and the fourth active circus currently operating from the seat of Choctaw County.

Speck pointed out that Downtown Johnstown Inc., with more than 50 members, offers other entertainment to Johnstown as well. The organization sponsors the fourth annual Cupola Classic Cruise-in Sept. 9, which Speck anticipates to feature roughly 200 cars. The organization also sponsors the “Third Saturday” concert series, a farmers market, an outdoor ice skating rink, and a Labor Day flea market, among other activities.

“We’re the group to get it done, to make Johnstown all that it can be,” Speck said. “We’re always looking for more events, as well.”

He added that Downtown Johnstown is also looking for new members and ideas for activities. The group meets the first Tuesday of each month.

“It’s a good time,” he said.

Speck said Downtown Johnstown’s goal is make the village a destination point.

“You don’t have to go into Columbus to have a good time,” he said.

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