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Classic big top circus comes to town

by ROB ZOLMAN
Sports Reporter | June 23, 2022 12:00 AM

RONAN — Rolling into Ronan early Saturday morning, the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus made a stop at the Lake County Fairgrounds setting up the big-top tent for two old-fashioned, one-ring circus performances.

The event included all the classic circus favorites, such as big cats, acrobats, circus peanuts and a clown — complete with a tiny car.

“We try to keep everything real old school, really traditional,” explained announcer and trapeze aerialist Simone Key. “No seat is farther away than 40 feet from the ring, so you’ll get to see everything that goes on during the show and be right up in all the action.”

Nearing its 40th season out on the road, the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus has become internationally known for its quality family entertainment as it strives to create a reminiscent experience for folks who remember attending the circus as children.

“During the show we’ve got tigers, horses, birds, daredevil acts and our clown is pretty awesome too,” Key said. “The kids love the high-flying tricks and of course all the things involving animals.”

Once again, this year SAFE Harbor sponsored the circus as a fundraiser and a way to show their appreciation to a community for their support by providing some old-fashioned family entertainment. More than 600 were in attendance between the two 90-minute performances.

The proceeds raised from the circus goes to help SAFE Harbor provide emergency shelter, crisis intervention services, and emergency advocacy free of charge to those who are seeking relief from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking in Lake County and on the Flathead Reservation.

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Trapeze aerial artist Simone Key and Kelly Leeth kept the crowd on the edge of their seats with their death-defying aerial stunts during the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus in Ronan on Saturday afternoon.

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A young volunteer from the audience helps with feeding time during the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus on Saturday afternoon.

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Delilah, a 375-pound female tiger and trainer Trey Key enjoy a little chat during the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus hosted at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Saturday.

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Leo the Clown entertains the crowd at the first performance of the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus in Ronan on Saturday afternoon.

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