How do you Build a Circus?

Running a circus is like feeding a hungry elephant, it always seems to need a trunkload more. There are four ways your generosity adds even more value to our history of excellence; we can use it to Keep Kids and Staff Safe, Save MoneyDeliver World Class Programs, and Invest in the Future.

Take a peek behind the curtain to see how we turn kindness into magic.


Aerial Equipment and Crash Mats
Smirkus constantly replaces equipment to ensure highest safety standards. In 2016, we replaced almost all the rigging. We’re now beginning the process of replacing our high-flying apparatus:

★ Trapeze (cotton): $350
☆ Duo Trapeze: $450
★ Cloud Swing: $425
☆ Lyra: $750

★ Double Point Lyra: $850
Chinese pole (rubberized): $1,750
★ Crash Mats: $775 each

Big Screen Monitor: $500
Coaches tell us that instant visual feedback is the best way to teach safety and technique. A monitor would enable us to quickly show each kid what they are doing right, and what they need to change to stay safe.

Road Cases for Props: $500 each
The troupers are responsible for packing the show props into the prop truck. Ever seen a teenager pack a suitcase? Nine road cases would enable us to pack the entire menagerie of shows props safely. Every case makes a difference.

Mast Light Upgrade: $10,000
Those giant lights that we turn on so you can walk to your cars safely after the show? We also use them while the kids and staff tear down the tent and jump to the next town. With thousands of pounds of steel and canvas on the move, it’s no time to “go dark.”

Automatic External Defibrillator: $1,400
Watching aerialists and tightrope walkers often has my own heart skip a beat, but in case it skips two or more, we want to make sure that our staff can respond immediately to emergency situations. AEDs are a smart and easy way to respond to those situations you hope never happen.

Eyewash Station: $250
The mud show tradition can be messy. Shaving cream pies can really sting. Having a portable eyewash station will make sure that soap, suds, splashes can be washed, rinsed, and dried in no time flat.



Cotton Candy / Popcorn Machine: $2,500 each
This is about as close as you can get to buying a machine that prints money. The profit margins can’t be beat. With those adorable troupers out selling during intermission, we turn sugar into scholarships and butter into better family entertainment.

Concessions Lighting: $500
“Look right this way! All these fine juggling balls, shirts, and goodies can be yours for… What? You say its too dark in here? Well, let’s turn up the lights!”

Lawn Tractor: $5,500
We can save $2,000 annually with our own mower. No kids allowed. Promise. Double promise.



Replace “Chapiteau”: $100,000
Most circus’ Big Top Tents have a lifespan of 6-8 years. “Chapiteau,” our beloved tour tent, turns 20 this year! We’ve taken splendid care of her, but she’s starting to see some irreparable wear and tear. Before she comes apart at the seams, we need to design, build and deliver a shiny new Big Top to give our audiences a splendid place to experience the wonder and delight our the circus!

Road Show Equipment: $2,500
As our Road Show programs expand, we are stretching to provide more and more equipment for our various traveling troupes. This includes sound equipment, crash mats, panel mats, juggling equipment, hula hoops… You name it!

Generator: $35,000
Green technology is improving. We’ve designed a way to run the entire show, midway and back lot on giant batteries and a much, much smaller generator. Your contribution would make the entire show would be quieter, more reliable, safer and more ecologically friendly. Watch out Tesla.



Landscaping at Camp
While Smirkus camp provides an awe-inspiring view and a great feeling of openness, there are few cozy shady spots for kids and parents to relax in. The sun can be relentless during the summer and can drain energy from guests, participants and staff alike. Camp staff have strongly recommended that we provide landscaping and shade trees to enhance the experience and rejuvenate the spirit of our campers.

★ Park Benches: $250 each
☆ Picnic Tables: $250 each
★ Shade, fruit, and screening trees: $750 per tree

Mattresses for Bunk Trailers/Trouper Trailers: $140 each
The mattresses may even be older than the trailers. Who knows? All we can say is they have to be replaced.

Shop Improvements
We only have three precious weeks to build the show. These items could really speed up our construction process and leave us more time for the kids.

★ Overhead Compressed Air System: $2,500
☆ Overhead Electrical Wiring System: $2,500
★ Paint Booth: $7,500

Solar Power for Camp: $36,000
If we could just find a way to harness all those beaming smiles on the campers’ faces, we would be all set. Until we do, a solar system would save us almost $5,000 per year at camp.

Improvements at Headquarters:

Drill a Well at HQ: $9,000
Currently at Headquarters we “borrow” water from our neighbor’s spring. Very Vermont. Very unreliable.

Rewire HQ Farmhouse Electrical: $10,000
“Places everyone!” The lights dim. “Action!” Unfortunately, this is not a scene in the tent, but a typical workday at Smirkus HQ. 

Improvements at Camp:

☆ Repair Porches on Farmhouse: $9,000
★ Replace and Repair Drafty Farmhouse Windows: $35,000
☆ New Roof on Farmhouse: $55,000
★ Install Gutters on Dorms: $6,000
☆ Repair the House Entryway: $700
★ Install New Siding on Dining Hall: $11,000

Improvements for the Big Top Tour:

Replace Bunk Trailers: $15,000 each
The staff tour sleep in traveling bunk trailers. They are now older than many of the people that sleep in them. Crew members over 6’2” have to cut a hole in the wall and sleep with their feet “in the closets.”

Lighting for Tent Set-Up: $1,000
Our tent crew often gets to the next stop before anyone else, starting to pitch the tents before the sunrise. But it’s tough to raise the Big Top by moonlight.  A set of battery-powered lights will let the kids in your town wake up to circus tents that have magically appeared overnight!

Backstage Lighting: $540
Have you ever tried to put on a clown nose in the dark? Our clowns will tell you that it’s harder than getting banana cream pie out of your hair. Your gift will help shine some light on the subject!

Security Fencing for the Lot: $3,300
Fans love to meet the troupers and wander around backstage. That’s unsafe for all parties. Fencing would allow us separate fans from cast and crew. Plus, it makes the entire lot look sharper.

Ships Lights on Midway/Big Top Tents: $3,500
Stringing ship lights on the tent cables would provide and absolutely magical feel to the entire lot for evening shows. Smirkus does not encourage the use of animals in the circus, but those would be the cat’s pajamas.

Box Office/Office Trailer: $12,000
Circus is a cash business. We would feel a lot better about having a single trailer that would provide security and allow us to consolidate many of the “office” functions.

Improve Land Use in Greensboro: $85,000
Vermonters have a term to describe the spaces that Circus Smirkus uses for its tents around our Headquarters: “mountain flat.” It may be level, but it’s not horizontal. It may be largely horizontal, but it’s far from flat. What fun it’d be to bring in the earth-movers and terraform the property we own to better accommodate the Big Top and practice tents!