The circus is coming to town April 19

The El Zagal Shrine Circus will be making a stop at Detroit Lakes' Kent Freeman Arena on April 19 — postponed two weeks because of the April 4 snowstorm

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A circus dog balances on a rope during the El Zagal Shrine Circus at the Kent Freeman Arena in Detroit Lakes last year. The event had a "huge turnout" for all three shows last year, according to organizers, and will return to Kent Freeman Arena on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — The El Zagal Shrine Circus will be returning to Detroit Lakes' Kent Freeman Arena next month, with three shows scheduled for Wednesday, April 19.

It was postponed from the original date of Tuesday, April 4 due to the snowstorm that swept through the region. The event is being sponsored locally by the Detroit Lakes Shrine Color Guard, and will feature the giving away of a fleet of bicycles donated by local businesses.

"One hundred and fifty-five businesses have sponsored bikes this year," says Steve Larson, who has been coordinating the local circus visit for several years now.

Some of those bikes will go to the winners of the annual circus poster coloring contest, he added.

"We've just wrapped up the coloring contest with area schools for this year," Larson said. "We'll be announcing the winners at the circus. They get cash prizes and a bicycle — the grand prize winner gets a little nicer bicycle."


The April 4 show will likely be a bit bigger than previous years as well, he continued, as the circus's traditional weekend run at the Fargodome will take place before the Detroit Lakes event this year, concluding on Sunday, April 2.

"We had to change our date this year, to fit in with the circus promoter's schedule," he said, "but the promoter has promised we'll get a few more acts because it's so close.

"There will still be all the regular things that you've come to expect at the circus — we're planning for elephants and tigers and a pony show again. But we're kind of excited to be getting a bigger show."

Last year's circus in Detroit Lakes had a "huge turnout," Larson added, with Freeman Arena's maximum capacity of 1,300 being stretched to the limit for all three shows. He's hoping for a similar turnout this year, particularly from area schools, which typically send a large contingent of students to enjoy one of the daytime performances. "We ask everybody to be good neighbors and sit close together," Larson said.

The turnout for last year's shows was particularly gratifying, he added, as the circus had been prevented from coming to town for a couple of years due to pandemic restrictions.

"We were excited to see all the happy, smiling faces on the kids," he said, adding that the circus performers themselves were just as pleased by their reception. "When we were closed because of COVID, that put a strain on the circus promoter, trying to keep people working. That's how they make their living."

"We want to welcome all families and community members from the area to come in for the show," Larson said. "I think it's going to be some awesome family entertainment again this year."

But for those who aren't able to catch the shows in Fargo or Detroit Lakes, the circus will also be stopping in Jamestown on April 11, Bismarck on April 14-15, and Dickinson on April 16-17. For more information about this year's circus, visit the website at (note: ticket sales via the website do not include the Detroit Lakes shows, as those tickets must be purchased locally).


If you go

What: El Zagal Shrine Circus
Where: Kent Freeman Arena, Detroit Lakes
When: Three shows on Tuesday, April 4 at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Doors open one hour before each show starts.
Who: Hosted by the Detroit Lakes Shrine Color Guard , which is part of the Fargo-based El Zagal Shrine
How: Tickets are available at Central Market or from local Shrine members, at a cost of $10 per person. Kids age 5 and under are admitted free of charge.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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