Zoppe Family Circus

Arials at Fools' Fest

This might  have been circus weekend here in Burlington. Friday night we attended the Zoppe Family Circus. Yesterday we briefly attended Fool’s Fest. I say “might” as the sows we caught at Fools Fest were well below past years standards of performance.

Zoppe have been a family owned circus for over 150 years, originating in Italy. Their aim is to present authentic Italian family circus, which they accomplish with flair. After a 30 minute preshow, outside the tent, we were let in. Immediately, one of the ushers noticed my crutches, and invited us to sit in actual chairs, about two feet from the two foot high single ring. This would prove pivotal.

Zoppe has a number of animal acts, something I find challenging. That said, the animals seemed healthy, and most appeared quite happy. The show began with a draft horse racing around the edge of the ring, inches from us. The horse must have been at least twelve hands!

The heart of Zoppe is their clowns. The lead clown, Nino, was spectacular. The show is built around his antics. Like many clowns, he carries an impressive skill set, including juggling and aerials. He was also a fine actor.

In the row of chairs immediately behind us sat a family with a little girl about 3 years old. Fairly quickly she found her way to the empty space beside my chair. Together we watched the show, each calling the other’s attention to the unfolding action. A couple of times, equestrians seemingly accidently hit a support pole immediately to our left. Once, a rider was knocked off his horse. Each time the child ran for cover. Who could blame her!

The highlight of the evening was, I suspect, a moment when the clown was crying. He walked around the ring, shedding plentiful tears on those nearby. Of course he stopped at my seat. (Earlier he had clapped my hands for me, during a moment when everyone was supposed to be clapping.) After spraying me with water, he turned away, only to return. I cowered under a deluge of tears, much to everyone else’s glee. (I was laughing heartily!)

The little girl fled to her mom, who tried to assuage her concerns for my safety. She seemed relieved when I turned around laughing and told her the dousing had been fun.

As we left the tent, post performance, we were greeted by the performers. I approached the clown and received a bear hug, in spite of my crutches and very wet clothes. Maybe it was inevitable Fools Fest would disappoint following that.

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