For 77 years the Antioch Shrine Circus has been held in Dayton or Montgomery County, but this year the circus will move to Xenia.
The circus will be held at the Greene County Fairgrounds on April 5-7, and this year it will be held inside a large tent instead of indoors, according to Kevin Sweeney, Antioch Shrine Circus chair and former potentate of the Antioch Shrine Center in Dayton.
The circus has been held at the University of Dayton Arena for the past few decades, but after renovations to the arena, booking the venue became more expensive and “too costly to remain there,” Sweeney said.
“We really didn’t have any choice. We tried to relocate to a couple of locations in Dayton,” Sweeney said.
UD officials issued the following statement: “The Shrine Circus has been a great partner, but it no longer was a good fit with Arena operations.”
Sweeney said scheduling conflicts with other events were mainly the obstacles with having the circus at other locations, including the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, the Nutter Center and on the former Delco property near the airport in Vandalia.
In the past, the event was held at Hara Arena and at the former Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Main Street, but it’s been held at the UD Arena for the past 18 to 20 years, Sweeney said.
The Antioch group has partnered this year with “The Tarzan Zerbini Circus,” which will bring traditional circus acts and performances, including elephants, tigers, clowns and an aerial acrobatics show.
This year’s circus will have a retro feel being held under a massive tent that will seat 2,550 people.
Sweeney said being under the tent brings people closer to the performances and will provide an “intimate, up-close, exciting experience.”
“This is our first tent show, at least it’s the first one in the last several decades,” he said. “We’re trying something new for us, but something very old in concept. It’s going to be a definite touch, sight, smell event that people aren’t going to want to miss.”
The circus is the only fundraiser that supports the local Antioch Shrine organization, which raises money for shriners hospitals.