Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mami's New look and the Fair

OK, since I am using "data usage" from my cell phone this will be fast:
First Mami has agreed to a new look for the circus shows...The blue in the hair is temporary and is applied before the show and removed after....paint of a type.
There is the after and the before shots in various stages.
Jim is still balancing whatever he can find...including giant garbage bins. and The girls discovered rock climbing.
The local supermarket is like stepping back into the 50s . The workers all wear white shirts and appropriate ties. There is even a butcher section instead of prepackaged meat. So when Mami sent me to get some Butterfly cut pork chops I couldn't see which was which, I only knew I was supposed to get them because they were a good price.  The clerk, wearing the old service garrison style hat asked me how many. I looked at Mami's note and notice she didn't list any amount. At regualr stores I just looked at the best sized package and took it.   So I thought and figured since there are 10 of us and chops are usually small I said, "ten please".  I waited as he weighed and a few minutes later he is handing me a paper wrapped package the size of a large baby. I had gotten ten lbs.   I suppose we will have pork for two nights in a row.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Cherokee

Cherokee People.....Cherokee Pride!!!!!!  (remember that song?)
Anyway we are in the town and county of Cherokee and have set up the show. The drive was a mere 3 hours and all is well.  Not much more to report.
On the social level I sat in our backstage area behind the banners and out in front of the RV (it creates a private area) and as the kids finished the set up I painted Mami's toe-nails.  
Today is Miles' B-day but we gave him presents yesterday and had a cake for him before our travel yesterday. However tonight Mami made his favorite dinner and we all gave him a card.   James published a video of our robots dancing on Facebook so you will have to go there to see it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Here are some pictures....then the story.

Sorry I haven't posted a misspelled, typo-ed filled blog post in a while. Truthfully I just couldn't get the juices flowing to do it. 
We left St Louis sometime last week to do our show in Donnellson, IA, The Lee County fair.  The town is a little ag-town (ag as in typo there) and had no grocery store, hardware store, laundry, and only one stop light. But they drew a pretty darn good sized crowd. We are convinced they came out of the corn.   They were also a pretty awesome crowd (all of them).  We did three days and the first two days the weather hovered in the low to mid 80s but really high humidity so there was a lot of sweating and a lot of liquid consumption.  The last day, Saturday, it was well above 90 and hit 102* on the heat index.   It was the first time I did not wear my full costume, preferring the vest and the small top hat. But by second show the top hat was gone too.  
As we performed our very last show to a huge crowd I saw in the Northwest a long straight ling of ominous black clouds about 2 to 3 hours away.  Sparks of light accompanied the clouds.  In spite of me giving the call back stage to start the pack up early the crew took their time and were caught with their pants down when the surreal gush of sand and wind blew through the fairgrounds like a scene from a movie. That was followed by the large rain drops of a real humdinger of a storm.   It would last all night with the loudest thunder I have heard in years. Fortunately I came out to check on progress of the load in an hour before the storm hit and got most of the "water" threatened equipment in.  The rest was loaded under the storm clouds and rain.   That meant they spent the next day pulling things out to repack everything properly an clean up the stuff that got wet.   I notice one strange thing about women and men in the load up.  Women are capable of chatting and getting the work done, men have to stop what they are doing each time they say something or stop to think about what is said.   Two of our crew had a serious problem with this and got yelled at a few times.  I guess I became Charelton Heston from, The Greatest Show on Earth where he played the tough nosed circus boss, but it had to be done. 
We did make the local paper front page. 

Cynthia is on the front page of the admissions page for Berea College. 

A Family  made a montage of  their experience with us.
We moved up from Lee to Waterloo for a three day respite.  We move on tomorrow to Cherokee Co Fair in Mid Central Iowa. Shows start on Thursday.  This is our second year back.  While in Waterloo we did our running around and restocking after having no stores in the last place.  We also met with a few great friends here in town. We had lunch with the Versteegt's; Mami has so much fun with the Misses. While I had a great visit with Vaughn and the kids kidnapped Eric to go fishing. We had a wienie roast.
Later I met with my friend Marty and he introduced me to the owner of the RV park that also owns a huge water park, a large cabinet making company and a number of other things. Super nice man.

In the three days in Waterloo we went from Sunday (very warm) to Monday (very windy) to today (Very cold).  Another polar vortex brought the mild weather.

Tomorrow: asphalt for a 3 hour drive.

I will try to get more pictures out this week.....

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


this is our first day to play tourist.

Two nights ago we had the great honor to have dinner with the very famous, very kind, Lord loving flying Wallendas. I got a strange message yesterday by the youngest daughter of the Wallendas asking if we were at a certain RV camp. I said we were and how could she know. She told me her family was staying there. So set it up to have dinner together last night (Sunday). Tino (the dad) had a sky walk (tight rope over a high dangerous place) on Sat. So we we made the date and got to meet many branches of the Wallenda Family. All circus for many many generation. You have to understand that circus is not like the movie or book, Water for Elephants. It is a close knot group of highly trained, very serious, very careful group of talented people. Many of them are generational with families who have gone through hard times but stuck together to make it.
It was more than an honor to share a table with them, even ig JP cooked....just kidiing JP the burgers were awesome).

I am honored to know the Wallendas, especially since I am first generation circus. The kids are a little more accepted as second gens.

Yesterday we went to a church recommended by an rv neighbor that ended up being a "prosperity, name it and claim it" church.  We all stared at each other as we heard the Word of God warped and shaped into a get rich scheme. It made for great conversation on the way home.   Its always a gamble....but always a lesson.

As I type a storm the size or Missouri is passing over us.We have managed to avoid big storms and hope the tornado or flood siren doesn't go off.

We visited the Arch today, since Kyle had not seen it. We also visited the free museum under it.  Strange how a symbol for Western expansion turned into a politically correct and socially liberal beacon. Why not keep to the history it is related to? There was more "equal rights" stuff there than any other history, as though the arch was a symbol or equal rights.    I am not against all people of all blood being equal, that is Biblical, but I honestly believe that pushing it at people will only create more anger.   One man's opinion. Though I grew up in a very diversified area. And I am in a bi-racial marriage with most my friends a different color than me.   maybe I just don't get it.

We also hit a big outdoors store and mall today. Lots of fun there. By the time we hit the arch several t-storm lurked in the west so we high tailed to the rv.

As  I write we are in a storm the size or Missouri. But God has seem us through all the others so ther eis no worry here.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


The O’Fallon, MO Heritage Festival is always a two day affair; July 3 and 4, regardless of the day of the week. This year it was a Thursday and Friday and that left us with the weekend free to take a short break. (Other events that wanted us for this weekend back when we were marketing this weekend wanted Saturday and Sunday with Friday, but our commitment to the festival didn’t let that happen. But that is OK because after the long drives from Canada and the four long shows yesterday (Friday) a couple of days off are nice.   And doing them in St Louis is a great place to do it.  

First, my Friday report.  As I said we did 4 shows with ever increasing audience sizes as the day progressed because the night would climax with fireworks.  O’Fallon does fireworks on both nights.  By the time our 7:30 pm show came we had well over 800 people watching the show. Grant it many were manning their spots to watch the fireworks, but they nonetheless watched and enthusiastically enjoyed the show.   We ad record crowds for our strange thing side show tent as well. The new two bodied-one headed pig has been a hit.

Amelia performed her fire-hoop for the first time this year, this time without a fire-protection suit. Victor rode his Unicycle across the tight wire; he nailed it on Thursday but came off near the end of the wire (caught by one of the big boy catchers, I think it was Kyle) in the Friday show.  But the audience appreciated he effort.   Amelia also performed her aerial silk praise and worship routine for which we got quite a few comments from Christians thanking us for our bravery to present a Christian program in the face of an ever growing hostile society to Christians.  My introduction informed the audience it would be a praise program, and that we once considered secularizing the program (it was originally designed as a praise routine for a church in Atlanta) but I decided not to change it and keep the focus on God because I could, and would regardless if someone was offended by it.  If anyone was offended they didn’t show it.

In each of the show I decided to keep a running joke that our 6’7” sound man, Kyle, was single and looking for a wife so if someone was interested to please apply after the show. Turned Kyle red a couple of times.

The event had one food vendor who sold frogs legs but the line was always so long and our show times so close together that we never got to try them. Darn.

I want to say sorry for the typos in the last post. I did that post at 4am and really didn’t care to proof read it. Both my parents scolded me. So I will try to proof read this before posting.

We slept at the park, actually a baseball field in O’Fallon Friday night. Our venue has a quirk. We performed on a baseball field. Our trailers and Rv and van weren’t allowed on the grass. So they peeled open a section of the outfield fence and I had to back the RV (and trailers) onto the warning track to avoid breaking sprinkler heads or harming the grass. Tricky.  We all slept late this morning and then took off to the rv park where we would respite. It was a grueling 8 minute drive.

Once settled in at the RV Park I got a Facebook message from one of the Wallenda Family, from the Flying Wallenda’s. She asked if we were staying at the afore mentioned rv park.  Well, it turns out so are they. Her dad, Tino, was to make a sky walk tonight at a fair nearby.   We messaged back and forth and are hoping we can all get together tomorrow sometime. It will be good to see them again.

Dinner was at Pappy’s.  It’s a pulled pork joint in St Louis that was made famous by Man VS Food 6 years ago. We had visited it just about six months after it opened back then and discovered it was the only pulled pork I have ever had that needed no sauce.   Back then it was a relatively small place and the line was average for a restaurant. Today! Wow! The line during the slow part of the day was 45 minutes long and that doesn’t count for waiting for your food after ordering. So I used my smart phone, looked up their menu, and called in my order while in queue.  30 minutes later we were getting our food not needing to stand in line.  While waiting a large man in a black chef jacket came out and said howdy.  He and I chatted and we discovered he was the owner, or at least one of the three. Got some pictures.   I did a magic trick for him and that is how I found out the SAM and IBM magic clubs were having their national convention in town and there were magicians in the shop at that very moment. He took me over to meet them.   How did I miss that a huge convention like that was going to be close by?

Dinner knocked everyone’s socks off. The food at Pappy’s is fantastic. I am suffering a food coma as I type this.   It is a once every six year treat. (Paid for by the record number of people visiting our side show tent yesterday.)

On a side note while we were here doing our show on Thursday SL Cardinals were back in my home state beating the SF Giants.   I mentioned that to the crowd and they went wild. Big loyal fan base out here. 

 The Exec. Chef and one of the founders of Pappy's came out in the all where we were waiting and chit chatted with us for a while.
 Chef getting a shot with Amy
Modern art outside our RV camp comfort center (bathrooms)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Canada Report....a little late...but better late than never

This is Canada report….albeit late.  First let me say that everyone we dealt with in Canada from the fair staff to the audiences to the folks we met on the street and in the stores were absolutely fabulous and kind. We didn’t run into a single sour-puss.   Our shows were always packed houses (tent) and our shows were flawless.

That said I honestly don’t know how folks can survive in Canada. The prices are beyond reasonable and the taxes are on everything and are multiple. By that I mean this (using a can of Mtn. Dew as example), the can of pop was $1.99 at the gas station, there were four taxes on it. One read as a deposit, the second was an Aluminum tax or something like that, the third was an environmental tax, and the last was sales tax. The soda came out to $2.42 in Canadian money so add 7-12% to make that US dollars. In the grocery stores we saw only long faces. “Cheap food” (eggs, ramen etc) were either sold out or close to it while meat and cheese where plentiful. The shelves for the cheap stuff looked like old Soviet pictures of grocery stores. And that said the cheap stuff wasn’t cheap: eggs for 18 were nearly $4.  Cheese was $10 (Canadian so add the 7-12%), meat was beyond reasonable and four days later all the meat I saw earlier was being offered at 25%-50% to avoid it rotting.   I don’t mean to be rough on Canada. Like I said the folks there are awesome. But the prices are enough to drive one to the poor house.

Cheap meds are basically subsidized by over taxing and sur-charging everything else. So next time and American uses Canada as an example as cheap health care….punch them in the nose.

The roads in Canada cost us quite a bit in damage to the Rv and van and trailers. We had things falling off all over the place. I can’t think of a single road in the US (Though the highways in Illinois come close) except for dirt roads that are in worse disrepair.  

I guess what I am saying is the trip was costly on many levels.  Still the folks up there are the salt of the earth. I only ask you pray for them for they are paying a huge price for that low cost health care and other social services. (Are you paying attention USA????)

I should mention that Victor Jr for the first time rode an unicycle across a tight wire  on the last day.  Go Victor.   

Well, the rest of the story will be with pictures:

(I will give you a catch up of the trip from Sk to MO at the end of this blog. 
 Jim helping raise the children.
 Jim with fans
 roasting Marshmallows on Jim's chin.
 cousin Wes and the reason people fear clowns....he has a hoodie!
The rv's vehicle radio wouldn't play Mp3s nor did it have an usb port and a couple of other new fangled things so I replaced it today after finally getting our Canadian money and our most recent show money into the bank. It was a $50 radio and the rewiring took 90 minutes.  Dang if I didn't have to use reading glasses to do the wire job....I am getting old. 

Amelia in her Aerial Silk routine. It is a praise and worship routine to the Lord. The whole dance and aerial routine is a modern interpretive dance routine showing some one resisting the call from God to salvation and suffering the woes of life to someone who finally submits (liberals hate that word because it means relying on someone other than themselves....when they run out and rely on gov't all the time....rely on other people's money is OK but relying on the one that can REALLY save you is wrong....I don't get it....Liberalism is truly a mental disorder.) 

The set up in MO. 

The drive from Sk to MO......our route was the only one not flooded out. The city we performed in was the only one not flooded out. Except for a sild ride in Iowa where we got 70 mph gust that scared the poop out of me the ride was good.   Since SK is know for its wheat this town had big metal wheat art. 

We were put in the "multicultural tent" since the building we usually use was "requested" to be used by the city for the centennial historic display.  These kids dis a Filipino dance. 

Cousin Wes strolling in SK

Mami, my love, standing next to the official car for the was parked right under the slide out of my bed room in the RV. 

People checking out our ever growing side show tent. It now has a two bodied one headed pig. 

Mami made the sign above at the last minute. she did such a good job that today be framed it.
 set up in SK
 loading up in SK
 Harry Hare Jr (aged 10.....4 years older than he should be) having some local water. the vet tells us that the traveling and having grass and water and scents from new places is what is prolonging his live.   We lost our 21 lb rabbit last week. Large bunnies have short lives and she came down with something that took her fast. That is the fifth bunny Harry has out live.   I will mention here that we also lost all three pups born to Little Girl the poodle today.  One was still born, (born on July 1) the second died yesterday and the last just died toady. We don't know why. Little Girl is confused and doesn't understand where her puppies went. She whines all the time.

 a Bollywood dancer in Sk sharing our stage.
The best of the Bollywood dancers. her expressions were really awesome. 

Our shows in MO are going really well. Over a 100 people in the first show and over 300 in the second. Many stuck around and spent time with us. Autographs, snake pictures, meeting Titus, meeting the tortoise, visiting the side show tent. MO audiences are awesome. We are truly blessed. 

They sell frogs legs here at the festival so if they are not too expensive we are going to try them tomorrow. 

Met an interesting couple today. A very handsome young black man was with a very nice white girl. They seemed to be a great couple. ( as a bi-racial family man myself I like to see this kid of stuff.) A friend of the couple loved snakes so stuck around to see Olivia's didn't hurt that her name was Olivia too. So more than an hour of visiting took place.   I asked if the first two were a couple and he said he wished but she was, and she finished by saying she was a lesbian. He told me that they long ago they shared their secrets; she shared her "orientation" and he shared his love for her. In spite of her constant pushing of him to other girls he is fully and completely in love with her....and it was obvious. So even though the advice wasn't asked for I told her that the very same excuse she uses for her 'orientation" is the very excuse why he won't stop trying  to be with her.  She thinks God made her that way, and he thinks God made him to love her.   Interesting , Huh?  Personally this guy is so fantastic of a guy I hope she gives in and accepts the love he has to give doubt in my mind (from years of observation) this man is TOTALLY in love with her.  Pray for them.

Isn't the road interesting?  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Canada to St Louis

I have a big hole in the blog concerning Canada. Lots of wonderful stories to share and tons of pictures and I promise I will do that, but not in this entry.  I will explain that Verizon wanted a ton of $$ for date usage and the provided internet service at the event was hit and miss, so we couldn't blog during that time. So that is the coming attraction.  I will say a large network in Sk did do a two day taping of us for a documentary to air in the future...I will post a link when it comes to be.

Many of you read about the storms in Canada and the US Midwest. We pretty much missed them all.  We had some strong rain and wind while there and while driving the 2 and a half days to get to O'Fallon (near St Louis), but we didn't get the terrible stuff that killed many, flooded many, and hurt many.   In fact, I think the town we were in in SK was the only town in Sk that did not suffer flooding and our drive came within 20 miles of where Canada's hwy 1 was flooded out before we turned south into North Dakota.   Getting back into the US was 1000 times easier than getting into Canada. (Imagine that?!)  The border guy was very nice and seemed to be a veteran of the service there on the border and had a nose for who is who.

Our route serendipitously took us through the town where a friend (Eric, Vaughn and Mary) were keeping our animals that we could not take to Canada as well as other things we could not take up there. So we picked those things up yesterday then stayed just outside Waterloo, IA at one of the best KOA camps we have ever seen.  Our friend Marty stopped by to see us for a few minutes while there.  Turns out the camp and the huge water park across the street (I mean I have Never seen such a cool and huge water park) was owned by a friend of his.   And the staff was 5 stars.

Vaughn works the third shift and had just gotten home when his mail lady dropped off a box from home for us.   We were hoping to get is since it had Titus' meds and some important papers and ,sadly, bills.   He called me up this morning just 30 minutes before our planned departure and said he would drive the 30 minutes to us to get it to us.  Salt of the earth man. The whole VerSteegt family is incredible. No better people on the planet.  

Unlike our drive yesterday where the winds pushed the rv all over the place today we just had sprinkles on and off. Once we hit the St Louis area is was just partly cloudy.  I thought we had to arrive at the park where the event is at tomorrow but after we pulled into the RV park we were planning on staying tonight Jim and Victor Jr. reminded me that we were supposed to be ther tonight and our shows start tomorrow. The rv park was kind enough to give us a refund (and I made reservations for the weekend so we can take the family to Pappy's, the Arc, and the zoo.   We got the the park ( a large baseball complex) and just like when we performed here years ago discovered we would perform on the field, BUT our vehicles had to stay on the warning track to protect the field and the sprinkles.   So I had to back the huge rv onto the warning track through a space they made in the chain link fence. Then it was the tiny trailer's turn.  It's tough because of how fishy it goes when backed up.   All went well.

As Mami cooked dinner the kids went to work on setting up the show and boy is it looking good. Pork chops and the fixings downed they went back to setting up. Our first show is at 6pm tomorrow.