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Circus coming to DL not once, but twice

It's time to break out the twirley light-sticks and prepare for a cotton candy-induced sugar rush.

The Kent Freeman Sports Arena is preparing for two circuses, set to roll into town on Monday, March 28 and Thursday, March 31 -- the first of which will be the 'world-class family entertainment' of the José Cole Circus.

The José Cole

The Minneapolis-based José Cole Circus is being sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Council 3166 of Detroit Lakes.

Co-chairman of the circus Bobby Heimark says the José Cole is similar to most circuses, with one small difference.

"They do have the three rings and the elephant rides, but what I've heard is that this one is geared more toward younger kids, but it really is for anyone."

The José Cole promises new and amazing acts from around the globe, supplemented with exciting music, special lighting to dramatically highlight the performance, and a world-renowned ringmaster.

The Knights of Columbus organization in Detroit Lakes, which has 320 members regionally, has been working with this circus for years as a fundraiser, getting them 20 percent of the ticket sales.

Heimark says this usually translates into anywhere from $900 to $1,300 a year, with $300 of that going to book the arena.

Representatives from the José Cole pre-sold tickets to local businesses in January, and Heimark says many of those businesses end up donating their extras to non-profit groups around the area.

"I know they will give to places like the Holy Rosary school, Boys and Girls Club, group homes, the Divine House ... places like that."

The José Cole Circus has been around since 1975, and is the only locally owned and operated circus in the upper mid-west.

Their show is Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m.

Prices are $7 for children 3 to 12 years old, $9 for those 13 years and up, and children under 3 are free with a paid adult.

Tickets are available at the door.

The Shrine Circus

The Shriners are hot on the heels of the José Cole, as the 16th annual Shrine Circus explodes onto the scene March 31, also at the Kent Freeman Sports Arena.

Bengal tigers will be roaring, elephants trumpeting, and for the first time, Dobermans will be finding their 'spot' on the stage.

"Each year they try to mix it up with some different acts," said Detroit Lakes Co-chair of the Shrine Circus, Lowell Thompson.

"Also, because of some reinforcements to the arena's ceiling this year, there will be some acts which will be suspended from the ceiling."

Other good, old traditional acts include the clowns, jugglers, and the motorcycle globe.

This show runs a bit longer than the José Cole, with a two-hour daytime show and 2½-hour evening show.

Thousands of kids pack the Shrine Circus, as every year the Shriners bring in around 1,500 fifth graders from around the region for a free show.

"We bus them in from all the area schools; it's just something we've always done. Kids around here know that when they get to the fifth grade, it's their turn to go to the circus for free," Thompson said.

The circus is also a fundraiser for the Shriners, as they use money raised for operating costs, area donations, and helping area kids suffering from cancer.

"In fact, we're helping a young boy from Mahnomen who is having to go to Mayo right now pay for some of his travel expenses," Thompson said.

This year the Shriners have worked successfully with local businesses in getting donations for 63 bikes to be given away.

Thompson says they also try to make it a family event by keeping the prices lower than you'd find at the Fargodome or other places.

"We haven't raised the prices on tickets since we started 16 years ago because we really want it to be a fun, affordable event that a whole family can go to without spending a lot of money," said Thompson.

Hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, and coloring books are all only $1, with pizza and pop being $2.

The Shrine Circus is March 31 at the Kent Freeman Sports Arena with 10 a.m, 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. shows.

Tickets are $5 for the day shows and if you buy the evening show tickets in advance, they are also $5 at Central Market.

Otherwise, you can get evening show tickets for $7 at the door.

You might want to come early if that is the case, though, because tickets for this popular event will often do a disappearing act.