Arbuckle Sunrise Rotary will sponsor two performances of the Kelly Miller Circus on Thursday.


Arbuckle Sunrise Rotary will sponsor two performances of the Kelly Miller Circus on Thursday.


Traditional “old-style” circus performances are set for 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. This year’s show features elephants, horses and a cast of international circus stars.


Ticket sales from the performances will fund Arbuckle Sunrise Rotary’s student service projects including scholarships, fees for students to attend summer camps, school supplies and providing personal dictionaries for every third grader in Carter County.


But the action begins early Thursday morning when the circus “rolls into town” at 7:30 a.m. and begins setting up in  the northeast corner of the North Commerce Street and Veterans Boulevard intersection. Local residents are invited to watch the pre-show setup.


Guides will be available starting at 7:30 a.m. to assist visitors in watching the animals being unloaded and fed, as well as the elephants raising the big top at 9 a.m.


John Ringling North II, owner of the circus and Ardmore businessman, will also be on site when the circus arrives and the “big tent goes up.”


North grew up in Sarasota, Fla., where the Ringling Brothers Circus wintered and it was the place he said he spent many “fun-filled” times with his Ringling family and the circus. When the Kelly-Miller Circus went on the sale block, he purchased it and fulfilled his desire to someday own a circus. Today North describes himself as much a part of the circus as any employee.


North’s relationship with Ardmore grew from his love of reading and his father’s travels from Switzerland to the community to “take care” of his family’s business, the Rockland Oil Company. On many of those trips, North accompanied his father to Ardmore, and a favorite stop was The Bookseller, where North’s father made multiple purchases. Years later, when North learned  the store’s owner, Mrs. Lorene Yordi, was planning to retire, the fond memories of his trips to Ardmore and his stops at The Bookseller prompted him to buy the business.


Thursday’s circus performances will be the third time the Kelly-Miller Circus has been in Ardmore since North bought the circus. It is the first time Arbuckle Rotary has sponsored the performances.