THATCHER — Step right up! And see what’s under the big top!

Crews began erecting the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus big top in the Bashas’ Shopping Center parking lot, at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, in preparation for Saturday’s two Gila Valley performances.

“Everyone here has multiple jobs,” said Nathan Holguin. “The guys putting up the tent will then assemble the rigging, put up the lighting and get the stands in place. Then after lunch and a small nap, they’ll be the ones working concessions and serving the patrons.”

Plus they start disassembling the production just as the lights come down on the last act. That’s because Culpepper & Merriweather Circus has a lot of miles to cover. The circus runs from March to October each year, playing at least one show — usually two — per day, seven days a week across the country.

“We’ll log over 14,000 miles and put on well over 400 shows,” Holguin said.

The circus has about 30 cast and crew and brings its own food and electricity. The only utility they use at each stop is local water.

“But we also spend about $1,000 in each city we do a show — for supplies, animal food and repairs,” Holguin said. “It’s a very symbiotic relationship we have with the communities we serve.”

Culpepper & Merriweather Circus will have two shows Saturday, at

2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The all-star group of performers and entertainers include Miss Simone and her amazing single trapeze, Miss Paulina’s proud prancing ponies, The Arlise Troupe on their wild and crazy unicycles, Natilie’s American Eskimo Escapades, The Ayala’s with unforgettable foot juggling, a ridiculous Rola Bola, a hair raising Hair Hang, and the performing Jungle Cats, Soloman, Delilah & Francis, all presented by Mr. Trey Key.

Also performing are the clowns — Judy and Punchy of San Francisco.

“Judy is the boss,” said Punchy (Holguin).

Tickets are $13 for adults and $7 for children ages 2 to 12 and children

under 2 are free.

Call 866-BIG TOP-6 or purchase at the box office before the shows.

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