Jaycee/Ehlert Park in Brookfield has not hosted a large-scale community event since 2005. But next fall, the park may play host to a circus – featuring elephants, tigers, acrobats, trapeze artists and clowns, all under a Big Top tent.
On Nov. 12, the Brookfield village board gave its consent for the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce to bring the Kelly Miller Circus to the park. The Big Top would be pitched on the southwest end of the park and the circus would be in town for about 24 hours before moving on.
Residents may be familiar with the circus, which visited neighboring Lyons earlier this fall.
“The last few years, a lot of people have been saying, ‘Can you do more things for families right here in town instead of having to go outside of the community to have a family night out?'” said Brookfield Chamber of Commerce President Mike McNeily. “We thought this was a great opportunity to try something.”
Bringing the circus to the village is also a fundraising opportunity for the chamber. Prior to the circus coming to town, the chamber will sell tickets at local retailers. In addition to getting a percentage of those sales, the chamber will also get a percentage of day-of-show ticket sales made by the circus itself.
According to the circus’ website, the traveling show tours with a fleet of 25 vehicles and the circus requires 90,000 square feet to operate. The main tent measures 120 by 130 feet, is 40-feet high and can hold up to 1,500 people per show.
The circus tours through the U.S. and Canada each summer, performing in more than 200 cities annually. The circus is headquartered in Hugo, Okla.
While Brookfield has poured millions into refurbishing parts of Jaycee/Ehlert Park in recent years, the southwest quarter of the park is not one of those areas. There is parking for roughly 230 cars in the park’s lots, in addition to street parking.
“Ehlert Park seems like the most appropriate fit,” said Village President Michael Garvey.
McNeily said he’s not sure of the exact date the circus will be in town, except that it is likely to be September. There’s a good chance the circus will take place on a weekday.
“We’re waiting to hear back on their schedule for next year,” McNeily said.
According to the circus’ website, the caravan rolls into town during the early morning hours of the day and begins raising the Big Top at about 9 a.m. The set-up, aided by the circus elephants, is open to the public.
Two shows are scheduled for the day, one beginning in the afternoon and the other in the evening. After the shows, the Big Top comes down and the circus leaves early the next morning.
A spokesman for the village of Lyons said the circus left virtually no trace the morning it left town.
“I was surprised by the quickness of everything,” said the spokesman, who did not wish to be identified.