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Column: I miss the circus, but I know its days are numbered

A column on Shriners entertaining Estevan and raising funds for children's hospital in Montreal.

It's hard to believe for some, but it hasn't been that long since Estevan would have a circus visit.

Typically, the local Shrine club would be the ones promoting the event. For generations of people, the first time they ever heard of the Shriners was through a circus, which brought talented performers and exotic animals they wouldn't see elsewhere

We would get other travelling circuses, too. But since I've been here, the Shrine Circus was the most common.

And while the event provided lots of entertainment for families, the circuses were also an important fundraiser for the Shriner's Hospital for Children. (A number of local youths have gone to the Shriner's Hospital in Montreal over the years for surgery, treatment or checkup from a medical expert).

I can still remember seeing elephants, big cats and other animals perform in Estevan during my early years in the Energy City. These are animals that used to be staples of travelling shows, but are unlikely to be seen now.

Estevan still had a circus in 2016, but it had horse and rider performances rather than elephants and lions.

The Southeast Shrine Club ventured back into the entertainment realm Saturday with a visit by the Global FMX freestyle motocross and snowmobile riders at Affinity Place. It was entertaining.

It's clearly geared more towards children than adults, but you didn't have to be under the age of 13 to recognize the talents of the riders and the risk associated with their stunts. One small mistake and they would be at risk of a serious injury.

The crowd seemed to be generally appreciative of the show.

It would have been nice to see a larger crowd, but it can be hard to convince people to go inside an arena and spend 90 minutes watching a stunt show in summer, especially when it's a beautiful Saturday on the first weekend in June.

It's the sort of thing that might have been better suited to an outdoor performance in the rodeo arena at the Estevan Exhibition grounds, or another area with lots of room to navigate.

And it was something that we hadn't seen here before.

(It's too bad that the Wet 'N' Wild show had to be cancelled, because it would have meant additional entertainment for the kids and another way to raise funds for the Shriners).

I have fond memories of circuses, whether it be the Shriners or another group. When I was a kid, they were great entertainment. I don't have a problem with circuses, although you could see the elephants weren't exactly thrilled to be used for the entertainment of others. Those big, majestic animals do deserve better than being used for rides.

And I don't fault the Shriners for finding other ways to entertain local families than circuses, because they aren't as popular or accepted as they used to be.

I never saw protesters outside of the Civic Auditorium or Affinity Place when it came time for the circus to come to town, but I knew it was an issue in other, larger centres. Those people believe it's time for circuses with animals to be a thing of the past.

And if the circus provider isn't going to be able to perform in larger centres, then they won't be touring, because there isn't enough money in the smaller venues.

If the Shriners try to bring more entertainment, hopefully, it's well supported. I don't know if I would bring back Global FMX for a while, because it's fresh in people's minds. But if they can bring something in that entertains families, gives people something to do and creates awareness of their hospitals, then that's great.

For the younger ones who have never seen a circus and might not know what a circus is, hopefully, they enjoyed the Global FMX. For the older kids who have been to a circus, hopefully, they found this entertaining.

And hopefully, adults who still like the circus, and who reminisce about going to such an event, could find enjoyment in this show.

Just because the days of the circuses are coming to an end doesn't mean the Shriners can't find ways to raise funds for their hospitals.