The Elf Khurafeh Shrine Circus celebrates its 75th anniversary in Saginaw


The Elf Khurafeh Shrine Circus celebrated its 75th anniversary with several shows running from Thursday, Jan. 18, to Sunday, Jan. 21, at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw.

Each show opened with a petting zoo featuring elephant rides, ponies and camels. Clowns and aerialists dressed as Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Elsa, Anna and other characters were available to take pictures with. Attendees could also pay to have their faces painted. Elephant ears, caramel apples, snow cones and other staple circus foods were available.

Ringmaster Brian La Palme started the show by singing with dancers dressed in elaborate animal costumes, such as tigers, peacocks, zebras, elephants and giraffes. The costumed dancers then climbed ropes that dangled from the ceiling and performed disparate aerial stunts.

The Russian Air Trio kept the audience’s gaze toward the ceiling with a coordinated aerialist act. The three women elegantly performed within the confines of a box made out of metal bars. At one point, an aerialist even held onto the box’s bars using only her neck, and her arms and legs freely flowed outside of the box.

Next, Ryan Easley performed tricks with five tigers. He has had the tigers since they were cubs, and he uses their natural abilities and instincts to create the tricks seen in the show. They rolled over, jumped over each other and more throughout the act.

The Carden Elephants proved to be a crowd favorite. The elephants were born in the wild and began training with the circus when they turned 3 years old. Going through muscle training helps the elephants safely perform tricks without hurting themselves. They stood on the hind legs, sat like humans and stood on pedestals on command.

To contrast the more traditional circus act, the Amazing Laser Light Show saw several performers dressed fully in robotic-looking, laser light-stunted suits. These suits changed colors and could blink in time to the bass-heavy music. Each performer also had a large, thin wand that beamed laser lights out of each end. A laser show accompanied the performance.

Kelly Eastwood was up next, with her talent being to impersonate several singers. She quickly changed into different outfits as the music of the hit singer she was dressed as played. She dressed as Prince, Kylie Jenner, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and more.

Another more traditional act followed. The Duo Leyva consisted of an expert archer who shot his bows at inanimate objects on his female partner’s head. For their final stunt, the female partner was blinded, faced the opposite way of the target and shot an apple off the male’s head.

Many more acts filled the night that were family-friendly and entertaining. Audience members of all ages enjoyed the show. The fun, engaging atmosphere of the Shrine Circus will hopefully keep it running to see its 100th anniversary.