Contortionists, clowns and creatures took center stage at the Grundy County Fairgrounds as the Carson & Barnes Circus came to town Monday.
The circus set up shop in the parking area of the fairgrounds and held two shows for local audiences, as well as a chance to get up close and personal with miniature horses and elephants.
Katie Bristow, of Morris, brought her 2-year-old son, Trent, out for the show. The two sat in a front floor section under the big red tent, which was decorated with stars underneath, taking in the music, the lights and the action.
Bristow said the activities taking place in the ring were exciting to her son.
"It's definitely kept his attention," she said.
She said she wanted to bring him out to see something new.
"It's just something to bring him out to and let him experience it," Bristow said.
While she's been to a circus before, being so close to the performers was a new experience, Bristow said, as was the variety in the acts.
"I think it was different, with all the dogs," she said, noting part of the act where small dogs jumped onto the backs of Shetland ponies and hung onto their manes as they ran around the edge of the circle. The crowd cheered and applauded as the dogs performed tricks, like jumping onto a platform and onto the horse's back.
At intermission, more ponies and the show's elephants were brought into the tent for rides, with children lining up to spend their tickets.
After a ride, Taya Roe, 8, and Avari Trevino, 7, both of Mazon, reflected on the experience.
"It was cool," Taya said. "It was exciting because we were so high off the ground."
"I've never been on an elephant," Avari said.
The girls were with Taya's mother, Tawny. She said the group was enjoying the performers, like the contortionist who fit himself into a glass cube.
"They kept asking me if his legs are real," Tawny said. "I said, 'Of course they are real.'"
Tawny said her family watched the circus as it came through the area a few years ago, but this year seemed to be stronger in terms of the show and the talent.
"It's more than I expected would be in Morris," she said. " ... I think there's a lot of good talent for coming to a small town."