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Aerial acrobats combine graceful artistry with death-defying physical feats. Submitted Photo

Shrine Circus time

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entertainment Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

There will soon be the smell of cotton candy and the roar of tigers in the air, as the Shrine Circus is just around the corner.

Thursday, April 11, will be the day kids from around the region will pack the Kent Freeman Sports Arena for three shows — 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

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“They’ve added some acts this year,” said Detroit Lakes Shriner Steve Larson. “They’ve got a miniature pony act that promises to be a lot of fun for the kids, a trained dog act, and of course, the Bengal tigers, which everybody always love.”

Some of the new acts are set to replace the beloved elephants, which Larson says this year will not be able to attend the event because of a disease that’s traveling among the herds that have them quarantined for a while.

“But there will be a lot of other really fun acts,” said Larson. “We’ve made provisions at the arena for overhead acts so they can hang from the ceiling, so they’ll have high-wire acts and also some ballerinas.”

The Shriners, who help put on the show as their big fundraiser of the year, will be offering up an expanded concession this year, but Larson says they’re continuing to keep the prices of both the concession items and the tickets low in order to ensure the event remains affordable for the whole family.

“We realize how quickly it can turn into a lot of money for a family, and we want to make sure the kids are always able to come,” said Larson, who adds that the Shriners will once again be sponsoring area fifth graders to one of their daytime shows.

Schools from Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Lake Park-Audubon, Park Rapids, Perham, Mahnomen, Circle of Life, Waubun and New York Mills will be bussing its fifth graders to the show — a tradition that’s been around for years.

Another tradition for the Shriners is to give away bikes to lucky kids in the audience.

“We’ve got 60 bikes this year that have been sponsored by businesses or individuals that we’re going to give away through candy bars,” said Larson, who says the Shriners sell candy bars during intermission, which has kids excitedly opening them up.

“Inside some of them will be a red label that will say ‘winner,’ so it’s an exciting time because it turns into quite a frenzy on the floor when they come running down for their new bike,” laughed Larson.

“It’s so much fun to see them because they’re so happy and proud, and it makes us feel so good to make their day.”

Another six bikes will be given away through drawings and coloring contests, which the Shriners judge.

In fact, Larson says their small group of 95 Shriners in Detroit Lakes is quite proud of their bike giveaways, as they end up collecting more bikes than some of the much larger units from around the region.

He says he not only hopes that the Shrine Circus brings fun and joy to families, but that it also brings attention to the Shriners’ mission.

“Our mission is to find patients for Shrine Hospitals…to help kids that might have an orthopedic or health problem that we can provide free medical help to,” said Larson.

The Shrine Circus helps make that mission possible.

Tickets for the event can be purchased in advance at Central Market in Detroit Lakes for $5 or at the door for $7.

The doors to the event open an hour early for the evening show, as people are encouraged to show up early. 

“That one is usually very full,” said Larson, who says all three are usually sold out at around 1,300 people each.

“We’re really excited about this year’s show because it will be the same quality of entertainment if not better,” said Larson, “and I know the excitement is building as we get closer because our saying in the Shriners is, ‘It’s all about the kids,’ and it really is.”

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