*NOTE: This story has been edited to clarify misleading information regarding free admission. Children in arms are free, original story stated all adult tickets came with a +1. (8/10/23)
Some already know and love it, others have never seen it at all. This August all Keizer residents will get the chance to experience a circus.
August 11–20, the Venardos Circus comes to town. Venardos Circus is a Broadway–style and animal–free circus show that has been touring the United States since debuting in 2014.
The show will be held at Volcanoes Stadium as part of its “Let’s Build a Dream” tour.
Opening night Venardos Circus will start at 7 p.m. Aug. 12–13 has three showing times beginning at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. From Aug. 16–18 the circus will start at 7 p.m. Showing times for Aug. 19 are 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. Then the final night of the circus will start at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Venardos Circus will feature an original score, performers, lighting and costumes. Some featured acts are acrobats/aerialists, daredevils, also performers showcasing strength and skill. The main event lasts around 90 minutes and will have a brief intermission. The show also brings a red and white striped tent that houses seating around the stage.
Venardos Circus throws its own Broadway–like spin by performing two big musical numbers. One number will open the show and the other will close it. All music in the circus is original and adds to a storytelling experience.
“A magic little Broadway show in a circus tent,” Kevin Venardos said, owner of Venardos Circus.
Before his circus life, Venardos’s first dream was to be on Broadway. He studied musical theater at Ithaca College in New York and went on to take different jobs. One of his gigs was to perform in a circus. Later, Venardos wanted to keep working but also start something of his own.
“It became my dream to start my own circus,” he said.
Since debuting his circus, Venardos describes how the show is a big team effort.
“We all do it together,” Venardos said. “People make the real magic possible.”
Venardos Circus claims to be reinventing American circus ways while still tipping its hat to centuries-old traditions. Attendees will be able to enjoy classic circus tents, popcorn, and cotton candy.
Venardos Circus is working to pave a way forward for a sustainable model of a circus, but as a show that can work in 2023. Venardos wants to entertain three generations of people and make his event a tradition for others.
“I’m doing it because I want to reach other people,” he said.
Animals have been a staple in circuses since 1831, but this is one tradition the Venardos Circus is not continuing. Venardos Circus has no animals in their show, although the reasoning behind this move is less political than it is practical.
“No animal circuses is the future,” Venardos said. Venardos has had experience working in circuses that use animals but found it more logistic to not have any in his show. He says one of the reasons touring with animals is more difficult is because of the evolving landscapes. It can also limit venue opportunities, as each state has different laws for animals.
“[But] I don’t build a dream by myself,” Venardos said. He says the show is about collaboration, how things that make people different can also make them capable.
“Only way we really make magic is the diversity of people,” he said.
The Venardos Circus also likes to make an emotional connection with people. The seating under the tent provides for a unique show. Rather than being spread out, audience members are close together and close to the stage. Venardos says it’s an intimate experience and that the audience gets to be right next to the artists.
Venardos says when attending a circus show, people get a chance to see something amazing or acts that aren’t thought to be possible. He hopes guests walk away from his showing feeling encouraged to do the thing they are most passionate about in life.
“Be inspired to follow your circus dream,” he said.
General admission tickets for Venardos Circus are $27.95 for adults and $16.95 for youth ages 12 and under. One child in arms will be admitted free per each paying adult, the child must be one-years-old or younger and be seated on a lap. Premier Gallery and VIP Experience Reserved seats are available for purchase. Parking will be $5. The Venardos Circus encourages guests to order online when purchasing tickets, more information about the show can be found at venardoscircus.com.