Salida Circus at the Gilpin County Fair

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A Family having Fun

By Jaclyn Morrow

Salida Circus from the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado brought happiness and joy to the Gilpin County Fair. Jacob, Addison and Vea – three volunteer local children, enjoyed watching the performers getting decked out in clown collars, noses, spinning plates, hoops and juggling pins on foot stands to the music of the William Tell Overture. The performers demonstrated amazing aerial skills, some ukulele singing, juggling, a dog doing tricks, and young dog trainer telling jokes accompanied by an old type of small squeeze accordion, stilt walkers and Uncle Ed the balloon twister. The entertaining show was very hometown charming.

Salida Circus is from Chaffee County, Colorado and has received funding grants from the Colorado Health Foundation as they are not just entertainers, but also educators. They teach children circus skills of stilt walking, juggling, clowning, and aerial skills. This year’s grant gives them the opportunity to expand their area of education from two days a week with the Salida Boys and Girls Club, to other San Luis Valley communities, and even Front Range areas like Pueblo. Many opportunities are found to clown around with workshops and fun trainings.

The family-based troupe of Joanie Baloney (mom), Jester Joe (son), and Jenny (daughter) performed at 26 libraries this summer following the National Library theme of “Build a Better World.” At the Gilpin County Fair performance, Joanie Baloney introduced the acts, juggled and facilitated the audience participation acts, played the ukulele, sang the opening song of wanting the build a better world, and the closing song about clowning around. She also played the accordion for Riley the dog doing tricks with her daughter who also told jokes. Riley can do amazing tricks, including riding in a wagon, sitting on a stool, begging, speaking, weaving in and out of her walking legs, jumping to sit on her various body parts, and jumping hoops. Jester Joe, who is an amazing juggler was not with them this time as he’s currently clowning internationally.

Salida Circus has had a busy summer, mostly in Colorado, but also in Santa Fe, NM, celebrating their 10th anniversary as a circus on Memorial Day weekend having 10 events in four days, including a carnival, a parade, and opening for the Bluegrass festival,. The circus originated in Jennifer Dempsey’s back yard when she returned to the Salida area from 13 years in Belfast, Ireland. She continues to serves as the director.

Uncle Joe is the balloon twister many children enjoyed creations from at our Gilpin County Fair. He also was found on the arena clowning with some events. When not thrilling folks over the past eight years with the Salida Circus, he is Ed Alloy, an auctioneer, bull fighter, and rodeo clown on the Colorado Rodeo Circuit. He learned to twist balloons on his own, but went to an event in Denver and became a qualified balloon twister.

Some of the spectacular aerial skills joined the Salida Circus this past spring. Emily Barber, who was home schooled on a ranch outside of Walsenburg and later graduated from Patrick Henry College in Virginia with her degree in Political Science, has brought her talents, friends and students to the show. Having returned to southern Colorado to be near her family, she began to pursue her interest in aerial acrobatics. Four years ago in Pueblo’s Dragon Dojo she began teaching these skills and coordinated an incredible show with her students for New Year’s Eve in the old theater in Walsenburg with silks, trapeze and hoops. She now also teaches in the Colorado Springs Trampoline World and It’s All About Dance.

One of Emily’s former students, Julia of Colorado Springs, now also in college, partnered with her this summer to do aerial acts together. Julia has been professionally performing aerials a year and a half, and hopes to increase her time with it because she enjoys it so much. Emily also met Chris Wegert in Colorado Springs and trained him to do the trapeze with her. She needed a strong partner to go along with her flexibility. They have worked together for over three years. When not swinging on the trapeze, he works for Microsoft as an administrator.

Danika walks on shorter stilts than Leah Capezio. Both gals make it look like a circus as they wander around in the crowd. This was Leah’s second time in public on the tall stilts, who is also a juggler. Danika is 11 years old and worked a silks routine alone after studying aerial arts with Emily Barber.

Salida Circus also has international events. Last year they were in Jordan for a week of shows for special needs friends, also training children in gymnastics. Jester Joe is currently in Turkey clowning with refugees from Syria and Iraq. He will go on to Paris for his own personal training as a clown. Salida Circus is excited to have connection with Red Nose International, as Joe will meet up again with a guest performer in Salida Circus who has been with Barnum for years and is now from Palestine. They hope to arrange future workshops and fun in those areas.

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