The Pine Bluff Convention Center on Monday played host to the Carden International Circus. The show featured Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, ponies, dogs, aerialists and other performers. Ashley Felix, an aerialist with the Carden International Circus, welcomed people to the show. Visitors who arrived one hour before the show had a chance to ride the elephants. Carden began more than 50 years ago.
“We’ve been coming every year and we want to bring something new to our audience,” Felix said. “This is a family circus; this is a very traditional circus. We have animals- that is what people want to see. It is a live adventure. When you say circus, you think it is just for kids. But it is for grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, sister, and for everybody out there. This is the perfect excuse for all of you to get together and enjoy a two-hour performance. We put our best show together to entertain our fans.”
Carden employees set up the equipment Monday morning inside the convention center. The employees represent many nations. Felix is the third generation in her family to work as a circus performer. She learned to become an aerialist from her mother, who was also an aerialist. Her mother learned from her father, who was a trapeze coach and clown. She watched them perform and developed a love for the circus.
“Once I started getting older, I told my mom that’s what I wanted to do,” Felix, a Mexican citizen, said. “She trained me to do the hula hoops. That was my first act. I was only about seven or eight years old and I could already hold 35 hoops around my body at that age. After that, I learned Spanish web and I continued to learn more aerial acts. My specialty is being up in the air.”
“One of my favorite things to do in the show is to ride on the elephants while they perform and do their acts,” Felix said. “We have people from all over the world. We treat each other like family. We try to keep it a family adventure and bring new acts every year to make it different.”