Amazing night at the circus

Aug 21, 2015 by

Note: Thanks to the Angela Rogers Group for providing my family with tickets to the circus for this review. All opinions expressed in this post belong to me.

Wow, just wow. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Built to Amaze! circus is well, amazing.

The show has the perfect blend of silliness, talented animals and death-defying stunts to delight the whole family. And if your family is anything like my family, everyone will have their favorite act.

Amazing crossbow act at Built to Amaze!

Ovidiu Pasarar shoots an apple on his own head via an elaborate display involving multiple crossbows

For Alaina, the best acts involved the horses, dogs and elephants, aka all of the animal acts. And she’s right — the animals were pretty incredible.

The most impressive of the animal/human acts was the Zoppe Equestrian one. Picture gorgeous horses running around a ring while incredibly talented acrobats perform back handsprings, back somersaults and flip from one horse to another. It was well, amazing.

Amazing horses at Built to Amaze!

Two members of the Zoppe equestrian act stand on the horses backs

Then there were the adorable (and funny!) dogs. They elicited quite a few “awws” out of Alaina as she watched them prance around in dresses, ride a scooter, take turns on the slide and other fun tricks.

Amazing dogs at Built to Amaze!

The Olate dogs strut their stuff in a hilarious comedy act.

The animal stars of the show were the elephants, Asia and little April. Earlier this year, Ringling Bros. announced that it would retire all of the elephants by 2018. This was the first show I’ve seen since that announcement and I thought the elephants played a greater role than in past performances. While Asia was the grand dame of the show, April was so stinking adorable. I’ve never seen a young elephant before, so this was quite a treat.

Amazing elephants at Built to Amaze!

Aren’t Asia and little April simply beautiful?

While Matt and I enjoyed the animal acts immensely, we were both awed by the Wheel of Steel. I think the best way to describe it is take two giant hamster wheels, suspend them like a Ferris wheel and then let two guys loose in the contraption. At one point, Cristhian Marquez and Carlos Morales are on the outside of the wheels, jumping rope. Yup, it was amazing.

Amazing aerialists at Built to Amaze!

Marquez and Morales jumping rope on the Wheel of Steel. Can someone say death defying?

Then there was the hand-balancing act. I can’t imagine having the kind of strength and control that it would take to balance on your head on a replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Amazing balance at Built to Amaze!

Check out this incredible feat of strength by Hector Gutierrez of Duo Solys.

While the clowns were certainly funny, I think the act that made me laugh hardest was the King Charles Troupe. How can you go wrong with a spirited basketball game on unicycles? Especially when the unicycles get taller as the game heats up?

Amazing comedy at Built to Amaze!

Basketball, unicycles and comedy — yes, please

If you’re heading to the circus, I recommend going early for the pre-show. Your kids will love getting to sit ringside for a few minutes. During the Thursday night show, we got to watch Asia show off her painting skills.

And speaking of painting, check out the face painting booth. For $10, your child can be transformed into a clown, an orange tiger, a white tiger or a dog. Alaina decided she wanted to be an orange tiger.

Amazing fun at Built to Amaze!

For $10, your child can get his/her face painted, plus a clown wig and nose

Amazing tiger at Built to Amaze!

A very happy tiger

We had an absolute blast at the Built to Amaze! show. The show really was, you guessed it, amazing. The circus will be at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock all weekend with three showings on Saturday (11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and one at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket prices range between $16.80 and $50.65 (for ringside).

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Giveaway: Circus Time

Aug 17, 2015 by

We have the perfect giveaway to help you and your family celebrate the first week of school — 4 tickets to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Built to Amaze circus!

* Thanks to the Angela Rogers Group and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey for providing us with the ticket vouchers to this night of family fun. *

Win 4 tickets to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Built to Amaze circus!

The circus runs Thursday through Sunday with 7 p.m. performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. Saturday also has an 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. showing, while Sunday has only the 2 p.m. performance.

And don’t forget the Pre-show, which starts an hour before the actual circus begins. It is your chance to meet some of the performers and animals and try your hand at an act or two.

So who wants to go to the circus? Leave me a comment telling me who wants to see the circus more — you or your kids. 🙂 I’ll randomly draw the lucky winner on Tuesday evening. Good luck!

Note: The winner will need to be able to redeem the ticket vouchers at Verizon Arena’s box office.

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Under the Big Top — A Giveaway post

Aug 8, 2014 by

The Circus is back in town and Little Rock Mamas has tickets to give away!

But before I tell you how to win, let me introduce you to Cathy Carden, who can shed a little more light about life under the big top. Cathy and her husband, Brett, are the animal trainers for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes.

Cathy (center) with her husband, Brett (right) and their elephants!

Cathy (left) with her husband, Brett (right) and their elephants.  Photo provided by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s

Cathy grew up in a circus family. At the age of 5, she was performing as a ballerina on horseback in her family’s circus, the Hanneford Family Circus. By 7, she was helping care for the family’s three elephants as they toured around the country. By 12, she was training the elephants and horses.

She describes her childhood as “the best you can imagine,” especially growing “up with 3 baby elephants that I played with like pets.”

Cathy did leave the circus to attend college, where she briefly studied television journalism. After deciding that journalism wasn’t the field for her, Cathy made her way back to the circus with a determination to explore areas outside her family’s act. She did an illusion act and worked as a dancer before finding her niche with the animals as their trainer.

“I’ve always had a connection with animals since I was a little girl,” Cathy said, explaining that she inherited her mother’s love of animals and learned how to properly care for them from her dad.

Now she and her husband, Brett, who also comes from a circus family, work together as animal trainers for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. They have two sons, ages 5 and 6.

As an animal trainer, Cathy said it is important to understand the animal’s personality and what that animal does well. THEN, you figure out where the animal will work in the act.

For example, Sophia, a dog she saved from an animal shelter, is a great performer. Cathy said she had this idea of training Sophia to walk on her hind legs while a smaller dog ran underneath her legs. But Sophia naturally hopped on her hind legs instead of walking. The trick just wouldn’t work.

So instead of forcing Sophia to do something that just didn’t come naturally, Cathy said she used another dog in that trick and let Sophia shine elsewhere.

When training animals, Cathy said, “You’ve got to let the animals decide things too. You have to let them shine, then they’ll be happy to perform.”

In Super Circus Heroes, Cathy promises some great animal acts, including dogs riding ponies and the always popular elephant performers.

Super Circus Heroes is based on the idea that “everyone has a superhero within them. You just have to figure out what it is and let it shine,” Cathy said.


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Super Circus Heroes is performing at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock from Aug. 14 through the 17th.

The show starts at 7 p.m. BUT if you show up then, you’ll miss the Pre-Show, which is pretty cool. For an hour before the show starts, children (and their parents) are allowed into the ring and backstage to meet and interact with the performers, try on costumes, learn to walk on the low rope or juggle, meet the animals and see them getting ready and more.

So are you ready for a night under the big top? Little Rock Mamas is giving one of our lucky readers 4 ticket vouchers for the first night of the circus– Thursday, Aug. 14.

To enter, leave me a comment below (not on our Facebook page) telling me what your favorite part of the circus is. I will draw a winner on Monday, so be sure and check back then.**

** Given the short time frame from Monday to Thursday, please consider whether you’ll be able to pick up the tickets at my office in downtown LR or meet me somewhere in LR/NLR. I am willing to mail the tickets  but I really would hate for your kiddos to be disappointed because the tickets didn’t arrive in time.

*** Thanks to the Angela Rogers Group, which provided us with the tickets to give away and set up the phone interview with Cathy Carden.

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