Our mission is to reach as many youth as possible, helping to teach them one-by-one, the importance of setting goals for themselves while striving to work hard and stay focused. During this process they will learn the value of giving back to the community what our community has so generously given to them.
The Wenatchee Youth Circus
Comes to Town!!!
The Wenatchee Youth Circus, known as the “Biggest Little Circus in the World” is one of several nonprofessional groups presently performing in the United States. The show includes all the regular circus acts with the exception of wild animals.
The 2012 season brings you the accumulated skills and experience built up over the previous 60 years. Under the guidance of Paul K. Pugh, founder and managing director, the circus began as an extracurricular tumbling group for boys and girls at the junior high level. Early on practices were held at the YMCA, which was the first sponsor of the circus. As a tumbling group, public presentations were made at basketball games, school assemblies and community service club meetings.
Our Director and Coach
Paul K. Pugh’s consummate skills as a leader and with his coaching inevitably brought about the addition of an ever-growing list of acts. The nature of the group was such that each member worked continually for improvement under the inspiration and enthusiasm of their coach. After he retired from his position as principal of Orchard Junior High, he continued to devote endless hours to the circus. He is, in fact, the circus.
Five small specially designed circus wagons are hauled on a flatbed trailer. One of the wagons opens out to make a raised covered bandstand, equipped with lights to contain the dressing/sleeping tents, backdrop canvas, clown props and costumes. The other two are used to haul equipment, with each wagon containing equipment for specific acts. The small circus wagons are loaded and unloaded by electric wench.
The equipment is valued at over $150,000 and is under close scrutiny for worn or frayed ropes and cables, thus enabling immediate replacement where necessary. Setting up takes about 5 hours, with certain individuals assigned the responsibility for the rigging, the canvas dressing tents, the canvas backdrop, setting up the cook shack, and final inspection of the lot so that no unneeded equipment clutters the arena.
Costuming is a vital factor in the production of the circus. This department is handled by circus parents, who design the costumes, purchase the materials and supervise construction and care of the wardrobe. Colorful, well fitted costumes enhance the eye appeal to the performances and add to the performer's sense of showmanship. Each participant is furnished with costumes for his/her particular acts which he/she must care for and return to stock at the end of the season.
Cook Shack is a semi-trailer designed for storing and preparing of meals, complete with a refrigerator and two large freezers. The logistics involved in the care and feeding of a group this large is staggering to the average householder. The circus runs on three meals a day beginning with a hearty breakfast, do-it-yourself lunch and large varied dinner menu. A bedtime snack is given after the evening performance. Meals are planned for 100-150 depending upon the number of chaperones and guests. Vegetables by the case, pots the size of small bathtubs, boxes of hams and roasts, 35 gallons of milk daily, trays of bakery goods, 10 dozen eggs and 30 pounds of bacon at a single meal are ordinary matter for a day at the cook shack.
To assist the director/manager in the monumental task of getting the production on the road literally and figuratively is a circus board consisting of parent members who are elected for two year terms but the whole group of circus parents and student board members who are elected by the youth members. The board has the responsibility for making many decisions, leaving the actual management of personnel, training, staging and production of the circus under the jurisdiction of the director and assistant managers. In addition to the board, cheerful assistance is rendered by parents all year long in a variety of ways as a means of expressing their appreciation for the opportunity available to their children.
Size of Membership
There are 40-50 members in this year’s troupe. Any child is eligible to join the troupes. Ages this year range from 3 to 18 years. Past year membership has swelled to over 125 youth. Paul Pugh says experience has proven that almost anyone with incentive, I.E. willingness to work, and to put the circus first, and normal cooperation can develop the necessary skills to accomplish the type of circus stunts used in the show. These young people work, perform, eat and live together becoming a large “circus family”.
“Esprit de corps”
The unique “esprit de corps” among the circus member is contagious. No matter how tired they may become from one trip, a few days at home between trips is hard to bear…for soon they must be away again with their circus family. The relationships between the youngsters themselves and the chaperones becomes one of affection and mutual regard. Some ten regular chaperones, in addition to Paul K. Pugh, accompany the troupe. Most of the other circus parents travel whenever vacations or weekend trips permit.
The members travel to each show with chaperones and parents by private car. Considering each child has a sleeping bag, pillow, several suitcases, and sometimes instrument cases, the pre-loading area looks like a baggage room in a major air terminal. Travel is scheduled to allow setting up the night before. This gives the performers a chance to practice on location the next morning and have a rest before the first performance. The circus, like its professional counterparts, tears down immediately after its last performance, loads the equipment and heads out.
Everyone Has a Job to Do
As school draws to a close, excitement builds up among circus members, costumes completed, acts polished, equipment painted and loaded, supplies stocked in the wagons and cook shack and the circus is ready for another season. During the performance everyone has a job. When not performing in an act, some members are assigned as property personnel “The Blue Crew”, and it is their duty to act as spotters during aerial acts and to change the rigging for upcoming acts.
Practice for the coming season starts in October. The winter practice sessions take place in the Orchard Middle School gym in Wenatchee. Since space and height restrictions limit the amount of equipment that can be used, only tumbling, double trapeze, webs and teeter board are practiced until spring when the high rigging is set up outdoors. Much concentration is given to the aerial acts from March until the beginning of the season the end of May.
Members not limited to just the children of the Wenatchee Valley
We have had members spend summers with us from as far as Australia, Paris, or a little closer such as families from Orcas Island, WA, Vancouver, WA, Portland, OR, Marlboro, MA and West Union WV. The way we travel all summer makes it easy to be a part of the Wenatchee Youth Circus… even if you aren’t from Wenatchee.
Considered One of the Top Non-Pro Circus in the Nation
The Wenatchee Youth Circus has grown to the extent that it is considered to be one of the four top nonprofessional troupes in the nation. Over the years the circus has played to audiences totaling over two million people in the western states from California to Alaska and in Canada as well, averaging 12,000 miles a year. The show has been so well received that many bookings are repeat datings, often made on the spot.
The show has been given in football and baseball fields, fair and rodeo grounds, indoor arenas, in the center of the Los Angeles County Race Track, and the Kingdome in Seattle. Bleachers for the audience have varied from elaborate covered concrete grandstands to mere logs or bales of hay. As with professional performers, the circus people are acutely aware of good audiences. They give of themselves with joy and zest; a warm reception is their greatest reward.
On With the Show!