Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!

Residents have just one chance to see the 2007 George Carden Super Spectacular circus in Gainesville this year.

The performance is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Gainesville Riding Club Arena.

Tickets go on sale on hour before show time.

The show is slated to feature elephants, tigers, aerialists, jugglers, six motorcycle riders in a steel globe and a revolving wheel.

Circus owner George Carden is the owner of George Carden Circus International and is a fifth generation performer.

Greg Thompson of Variety Media, Springfield, Missouri, said Carden was been with circuses since he was a young boy.

“His father was a circus owner who met George’s mother at one of the circuses, and they ended up falling in love,” Thompson said.

The performers and other circus personnel are paid well for their work, Thompson said, but signing on as a circus performer requires a big commitment.

Performers spent most of the year on the road, living in fifth wheel homes pulled by large pickup trucks.

The show travels about 50,000 miles a year, Thompson said.

Carden produces, according to Thompson, most of the Shrine circuses that perform in the United States each year.

“Mr. Carden is the largest Shrine circus producer in the U.S.,” Thompson said.

The George Carden Circus International winters in Springfield, Missouri. The facility has 14 buildings and houses at least 20 semi and trailers. The place also has built-in campground facilities. But the winter season is short.

“The group goes back on the road in January, traveling and performing in the United States and parts of Canada until the end of November,” Thompson said.

Performers have December and “a couple of weeks in January” to rest up before the performances start again.

In a typical month, circus performers might get only four days off, he said.

The company travels to cities, sets up their equipment, puts on a performance and tears everything down before heading to the next town.

Beginning with Monday night’s performance in Gainesville, the group is set to “tear through Texas” doing shows in places such as the west Texas towns of Ozona and Odessa and in central Texas.

Carden’s circus is booked every day until Sept. 20, Thompson said, when they get a brief rest — a four-day stint in San Antonio.

Thompson said Carden has loyal employees many of whom have been with his circus for over 40 years, including office and other support staff.

Monday night’s performance is scheduled to feature animal acts including an Asian elephant act — visitors can also purchase a ticket for an elephant ride before the performance.

According to information provided by circus promoters, the average age of the elephants featured in the shows is 40 years. Elephants in the wild live only about 45-50 years. In captivity the animals have been known to live as long as 80 years.

The show is also set to feature a motorcycle act inside a giant steel globe. The six riders — a South American troupe — execute stunts while racing around the steel globe at up to 60 miles per hour.

Visitors will also get a chance to see Romanian performers, Giorgio and Luisa Marinof, execute aerial acrobatics. Some of the feats are reportedly performed while the Marinofs are hanging by their teeth or toes.

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