Circus to set up 'big tent' in Hampton

By Valerie Baldowski


The circus is coming to town, at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) in Hampton.

The Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars attractions will include Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, camels, zebras, llamas, ponies, dogs, and a "Liger," which is a cross between a lion and a tiger, said Don Baltulonis, a marketing director for the circus.

A "Liger" has the body characteristics of a lion, but the striped markings of a tiger, he said. "The males have the mane," said Baltulonis. "Our Liger is a female. This one is 4 or 5 years old."

More entertainment will be provided by clowns, tightrope-walkers, a freestyle motor show with "daredevil" drivers in all-terrain vehicles, the "splitting globe of death," and the "human cannonball."

The Circus of the Stars is scheduled to be at AMS Sept. 17-19. Show times are 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., on Sept. 17; 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m., on Sept. 18; and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., on Sept. 19.

Admission is $17 for adults, $12 for children over 12, and free for those 12 and under. VIP seats are $5 extra, and reserved seats are $3 extra. Children's tickets are available from freekidstickets.com, tickets.com, or at the AMS box office.

Circus parking will be in one of the speedway's recreational vehicle parking lots, in front of the condominiums on the AMS property, said Baltulonis. Henry County police will direct traffic, and parking will be as close to the circus tent as possible, he said.

The circus is always popular, said Baltulonis, and large crowds usually turn out. "We can fit just under 2,000 people per show under the tent," he said.

When the Cole Brothers Circus came to Hampton in 2008, Baltulonis said, the most well-attended show drew 1,500 fans. The traveling show is being promoted by Roy Dietrich, an "advance clown" for the circus.

Dietrich is also known as "Professor Kno-Y," a name loosely derived from the main character in the British science fiction television show "Doctor Who."

Dietrich, who has been with Circus of the Stars for seven years, said his job requires him to travel one week ahead of the show. He was in Albany, Ga., on Tuesday, and was scheduled to travel to Dothan, Ala., then to the Florida panhandle, after his stop in Georgia.

Circus of the Stars operates nine months out of the year, said Dietrich, from March through late November. Although Dietrich does not perform during the shows, he said his role is that of a "goodwill ambassador."

"We do about three towns a week," he said. "The performers at the show don't have a lot of time to interact with the community. That's my job. I do a lot of newspaper, radio, and TV interviews."

As an "advance clown," he also visits local schools, nursing homes and hospitals. Dietrich said his favorite part of the job is meeting young circus fans.

"I like interacting with the kids, and seeing their smiling faces," he said. "[For] a lot of kids, I'll be the first clown they ever see in their lives."