86 years of the Hadi Shrine Circus, the last of the three-ring circuses

86 years of the Hadi Shrine Circus, the last of the three-ring circuses

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - 2019′s Hadi Shrine Circus has come to an end, and the Shriners are already gearing up for next year. Our team got a close look at Sunday’s show and why it is the last of its kind.

“It is a gem, this is the last of the great three-ring circuses in the United States," said Shriner’s spokesperson, Dale Thomas.

The circus brings three hours of family-friendly entertainment a night to Evansville.

“There’s nothing routine about the circus because every year we’re building a new circus, sometimes we bring the new acts, sometimes we bring the old staple acts back,” said Thomas.

This year, the Shriners brought in a new trampoline act and upgraded their motorcycle act.

T.J. Kemper has come with his family for years, and he says he comes for the clowns.

“You get to jump around, do all these tricks, you get to ride in a clown car and all that crazy stuff,” said Kemper.

As the years go on, attendance has started to decrease. It’s not just in Evansville, but countrywide.

Some say its due to the beliefs of organizations like PETA.

On their website, PETA says “To force animals to perform, circus trainers abuse them with whips, tight collars, and other painful tools of the circus trade”.

“We know the acts that shouldn’t be in the business, and we know the acts that should, and we are very very careful about picking the acts that take care of the animals well,” said Thomas.

The controversy isn’t stopping people from enjoying what all the circus has to offer.

“All of the fun activities you get to do, you get to see new people, with disabilities, you get to experience camels, and all this fun stuff," said Kemper " Yeah, why stay at home? Why play on your phone all day?”

The Hadi Shrine Circus will be back in Evansville in 2020 with its first show on Thanksgiving Day.

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