Circus spends evening in city

 

The Carson and Barnes Circus performed in Russellville Monday night for a fundraising effort for the local Foster Grandparents’ program. | Nathan Strickland/FCT

 

Like many small towns across the country, Russellville played host to The Carson and Barnes Circus Monday to help the local Foster Grandparents raise money for their organization.

The Carson and Barnes Circus, which is owned and operated by Barbra and Geary Byrd, is currently on its 74th tour, hitting over 200 cities in one year as one of the last “Traditional-American, under-the-big-top” traveling circus shows remaining in the country.

The ones who work for the circus say circus life is not an ordinary job by any stretch of the imagination. It is more of a lifestyle and for those who have chosen or grew up living “the circus life,” many believe the job isn’t for everyone.

Marketing Coordinator for the Carson and Barnes Circus Amanda Pippin had no idea that she was going to be in this line of work one day, but said it has its ups and downs.

“My family misses me, but they support me in whatever I choose to do in life,” she said. “My dad likes to joke to his friends that his daughter has literally ran away with the circus.”

Pippin, 24, graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in sports and entertainment management, not knowing she would one day be running the show, so to speak, at the circus. Her parents live in her hometown located in South Carolina with her siblings.

Pippin had done some work for the Brimley Brothers circus while in college and found work with Carson and Barnes Circus after college was over.

“Sometimes you just stumble upon something you really enjoy doing like entertaining families and putting smiles on people’s faces,” she said. “Most of the people who work here are born and raised in circus life. They stay in it, build families, teach their children and keep the circus going.”

The Carson and Barnes Circus is made up of 150 crewmembers including performers and Pippin said everyone treats each other just like family.

The Carson and Barnes circus showcased lots of different types of animals during their performances Monday night. | Nathan Strickland/FCT
The Carson and Barnes circus showcased lots of different types of animals during their performances Monday night. | Nathan Strickland/FCT

 

Pippin said there are 15 countries represented in this circus and it is a really unique environment that isn’t for everyone.

“The circus life isn’t cut out for everyone,” she said. “Circus life is just that, it is your life, there are no holidays, vacations nothing like a normal job. A lot of times we work 18 hours a day, getting up at 5 a.m. and taking off to the next city to set up. The cool thing is that you get to travel the country, see lots of different sights and meet lots of different people. I enjoy it for the most part, but I probably won’t do it for the rest of my life.”

The Carson and Barnes Circus is a small family-owned and operated, small-town product. The circus will be popping up at venues in Tupelo, Miss. today, Florence, on Thursday and Friday, then in Cullman on Saturday and Sunday.

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