Fort Wayne’s annual circus extravaganza is back Jan. 27-29 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.
The Mizpah Shrine Circus, which aims to entertain both adults and children alike, promises family-friendly entertainment from start to finish, says Mike Hardiek, member of the Mizpah Shrine Circus Committee. Five shows in total will take place Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
“This year, we are happy to present a perfect blend of both traditional circus acts as well as never-before-seen thrill acts,” Hardiek says. “From high wire performers to electrifying motorcycle stunts, there is something for everyone. We take great pride in creating something that the grandparents will enjoy as much as the kids.”
Make sure to arrive an hour before showtime and stay an hour after to enjoy the Free Circus Fair, taking place in the lower level of the Coliseum.
“When you arrive, simple proceed straight ahead instead of traveling up the escalators,” Hardiek says. “Once in the lower level, you can see the elephants up close and delight in the excitement of many attractions.” At the Free Circus Fair, guests can purchase tokens to enjoy activities such as face painting, a bounce house, petting zoo, Peg Perego racetrack, caricature portraits and pony rides.
The main circus event has a long list of attractions, including elephants, tigers, camels, clowns, high wire acts, aerial artistry, feats of dexterity, canine capers, high wire balancing, flying trapeze artists, dare devil acts and more. The performance lasts approximately 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.
“Unfortunately, in today’s world, kids spend a lot of time looking at a phone screen. They miss the wonderful things that are happening around them. The circus offers us all a chance to lose ourselves for a couple of hours in a world full of excitement and wonder,” Hardiek says. “My favorite part of the circus each year is watching grandparents reconnect with their grandkids – to see how parents laugh with their kids and hold their breath during the thrill acts. The only phones being used are to record memories that will last a lifetime.”
Photos are allowed before, during and after the performance, however, flash photography during the show is prohibited.
Tickets start at $16 and can be purchased online through Ticketmaster or at the Memorial Coliseum box office. Children under age 2 do not require a ticket. Handicapped seating is available to those who purchase the option, and group/corporate rates are available by calling the box office. Parking is $8 per vehicle paid to the attendant in the Coliseum parking lot.
Hardiek urges guests to not be fooled by overpriced ticket sites that are popping up.
“This is our single largest problem,” he says. “Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous websites that advertise that our tickets start at a much higher price than they truly are. They purchase the tickets and then resell them at a huge markup. You can purchase tickets through Ticketmaster and at the Memorial Coliseum. We never sell out, so you can purchase them when you arrive the day of the show.”
The Mizpah Shrine Circus is made possible by a committee, but credit is also given to Shriners who volunteer countless hours throughout the year, Hardiek says.
“On Sunday after the last performance, they are tired and weary, but they know they made a difference in the lives of our guests,” Hardiek adds. “It is the hundreds of men and women who give their time and efforts that really make the Mizpah Shrine Circus possible.”
The Mizpah Shriners represent just one of the 191 Shrine centers from all around the world and are made up of more than 2,000 Master Masons from throughout Northeast Indiana.
“You probably know one,” Hardiek says. “Shriners are involved in many other charitable groups throughout your community. We love to have fun as we support the Shrine Hospitals for Children. We believe no man stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child.”
Proceeds from the circus benefit the Mizpah Shrine. For more information about the circus, visit mizpahshrinecircus.com or call the box office at (260) 483-1111.
“The Mizpah Shriners are proud to host Northeast Indiana’s longest running family tradition,” Hardiek adds. “For 76 years, we have created an event that brings families together to remember what it is like to be a kid again, no matter what their age. We do everything we can to make the circus affordable so that everyone can enjoy it. We believe every child should be able to enjoy the circus.” ❚