Carson and Barnes Circus - a family tradition

The Quincy Noon Kiwanis Club brings the Carson and Barnes Circus to town every two years.

From elephants to trapeze artists, the circus performs under the largest big top in the states. Click here to watch a trapeze act from KHQA This Morning.

Balance artists also call the circus home. Click here for a performance from KHQA This Morning

As you watch the show under the big top, you may not realize the performers on display make up only a small part of this large traveling circus. There are maintenance workers, electricians, animal caregivers and a chuck wagon for meals.

The Carson and Barnes Circus is made up of one hundred people traveling around the nation. While many of them are small circus families traveling with the circus, the circus itself is like a large family.

Kristin Parra is the granddaughter of the circus founder and now is a co-owner and travels along with performers.

"We celebrate together we laugh together, we even had mass under the big top on Sunday morning," said Parra.

"The circus is very much a family tradition not only in our family," said Parra. "We're in the fifth generation right now of circus owners but it's also a tradition in the performers. There are performers here that go back generations and it just gets passed on."

Click here to learn abotu how the circus started.

Part of the big circus family are the animals. Click here to watch Charlie the Camel attack Melissa Shriver and Laura Donahue during KHQA This Morning.

Viola is a 42 year-old Asian elephant and one of 25 elephants owned by the Carson and Barnes Circus.

Training for elephants like her begins early on. Viola performs for audiences every day. Of course this ten thousand pound pacaderm has an appetite worthy of her talents.

"It takes a lot to feed the elephants," said Parra. "They eat about 50 pounds of hay a day, 15 pounds of sweet feeds, breads, vegetables, and 50 gallons of water."

Parra says Carson and Barnes operates one of the few elephant conservations in the United States.

"Sadly its predicted that in 25 years or so Asian and African elephants may be extinct in the wild," said Parra. "So unless we do things here to keep them going we could lose them forever."

In case you missed Monday's show in Quincy, no worries.

The Carson and Barnes Circus travels to Palmyra Tuesday and Jacksonville on Thursday. Those shows will be at 4:30p.m. and 7:30pm. Click here for a schedule of shows in the area.