Starting Friday, Yaarab Shrine in Atlanta will present the weeklong 72nd Annual Yaarab Shrine Circus & Fair at Jim R. Miller Park.
The festivities begin with Friday’s “SNEAK-A-PEEK-RIDE-A-THON,” which serves as an opening day for the carnival with food vendors.
For $15 that day, patrons will enjoy an unlimited number of turns on the 35 rides, including the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Wacky Worm roller coaster and the Wade Shows Attraction’s Giant Wheel, a Ferris wheels that spins high above the midway.
New this year will be the Miss Shrine Circus Beauty Pageant, which will be Friday at 6 p.m.
Nan Wages has been collecting entry fees for the pageant to raise funds for the beautification of the Atlanta temple. Her husband, Bill, has been a Shriner since 1997.
The pageant will be divided into seven age groups, from the Tiny Miss category for 3- to 4-year-old girls to the Miss Shrine Circus group of 18- to 24-year-old women.
There will be a title placement given for each category, as well as an overall Miss Photogenic selected from a photograph submitted for judging, Wages said.
Each group is allotted 30 minutes of stage time, and the focus will be on the contestants’ formal wear, Wages said.
On Tuesday, Wages was still collecting entry fees for families entering their children. The cost is $65 in advance or $75 at the door to participate.
The circus and fair will see a return of a petting zoo and the crowd favorite, Red Devil Clowns.
Richard Burke of Buford, this year’s president of the Yaarab Shrine, said the group of Shriners donning clown makeup and costumes on the weekends should be 20 to 25 strong.
“We of course are famous for our circus clowns,” said Burke, who has walked the circus midway in costume a couple of times in his 11 years as a Shriner.
Under the big top at this year’s Yaarab Shrine Circus & Fair, guests will see the return of Doug Terranova’s Big Cat Extravaganza, which shows the natural behavior of the tigers on command.
Patty Zerbini will also demonstrate her skills working with both Asian and African elephants in the arena.
This year also comes with many new acts.
For the first time in Marietta, Rick Wallenda of the world-famous Wallenda Family will be walking a tight rope.
Also performing high above the arena for crowds each day will be Robinson Cortes completing trapeze and aerial stunts.
Daredevil Shawn Ives, who for 30 years has perfected motorcycle jumps and summersaults, will be on hand as well.
Volunteers join the circus
The Yaarab Shrine Circus & Fair is not only dedicated to providing a fun family event for Cobb residents, but also helping children.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and teaching programs.
Children up to the age of 18 with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lips or palates are eligible for admission and receive care in a family-centered environment with no financial obligation to patients or families.
Burke said the Yaarb Shrine in Atlanta has 4,000 members from north Georgia with about 900 people volunteering at the weeklong event, selling food and taking tickets.
On Tuesday afternoon, Burke said 150 of the volunteers were already camping at the site to help set up the infrastructure of the circus rides and vendors.
The Yaarab Shrine Circus & Fair will have carnival food including funnel cakes, homemade ice cream, corn dogs, cotton candy, candy apples, hamburgers, cheese steaks, elephant ears, fried Oreos, roasted corn and snow-cones.
“We try to keep our prices low,” Burke said about the price of a combo with a hot dog, French fries and a drink for $6.
Burke said he hopes to have 50,000 people come through the gates to help the shrine “pay the bills” on its operation, including the cost of buildings in downtown Atlanta.
By raising operational funds through the circus, Burke said the Shriners can focus the rest of the year raising money to give 100 percent of proceeds to the hospitals.
IF YOU GO:
When: May 16 to 26
Monday to Friday opens at 5 p.m.
Saturday opens at 10 a.m.
Sunday opens at noon
Memorial Day opens at 10 a.m.
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sundays: 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Memorial Day, 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Jim R. Miller Park, 2245 Callaway Road, Marietta
Gate admission includes unlimited admission to the circus on any given day and access to the carnival midway
Children 10 and under are free
Parking is $5 per vehicle