On March 18, the 69th annual Kerak Shrine Circus is coming to the Livestock Events Center. With a variety of acts, including both time-honored classics and some modern twists, the Shrine Circus is a tradition in fun for children of all ages—and helping children is what the Shriners are all about.
Know Your Local Shriner
“We are a fraternal organization; we were established back in the 1800s. We stem from the Masonic Lodge,” said Gene Fox, Circus Chairman and member of the Kerak Shrine since 1996. “These people that were bored with just the ritual work of it decided to create this organization called Shriners. After a few years, they wanted to have a philanthropy that they could really embrace.“
The Shriners eventually created the first Shriners Hospital in 1922, specializing in treating problems like congenital birth defects, burns and spinal deformation. There are currently 22 Shriners Hospitals serving children in the US and Canada.
“We have a great reputation as far as doing what other [hospitals] can’t and having the ability to go the extra mile,” said Fox. “Regardless of their ability to pay, we take care of the children.”
Research at Shriners Hospitals has led to breakthroughs in burn treatment, including the development of a pressurized mask and suit that can help with pain during healing and minimize scarring. Last year, surgeons at a Shriners Hospital successfully performed a pre-natal surgery to correct an infant’s diagnosed spina bifida.
“We support all the way through and we try to keep our masonic family healthy. Its just a real gift to be able to give to these children,” said Fox. Children treated at Shriners Hospitals go on to receive any additional necessary care until the age of 18.
Shriners Hospitals receive funding through donations and membership dues from Shriners all over the country, and while the circus does not fund any hospitals directly, it plays an important role in helping the Shriners continue their work.
Shrine of the Times
The local Kerak Shrine on Energy Way is the meeting place, administration office and hall of records for the local Shriner chapter. It also serves as a meeting place for children and their parents in need of transportation to the nearest Hospital–either Sacramento or Salt Lake City.
“The main reason we have the circus is to keep the doors open here,” said Fox. “It’s a hall and a meeting place where people can bring their children while they’re waiting to go the hospital.”
Proceeds from the circus go to maintenance and upkeep of the Kerak Shrine, and while the Shriners circulate 64,000 free passes to children, an adult must accompany them.
Regular ticket prices include General Admission at $14 for children and $16 for adults, with reserved seats costing $18. This year, participants can also choose box seating for $20 and request a floor seat for $30 (40 floor seats are offered).
“Scolari’s sells our tickets for us, and we sell them at the door of the Livestock Events Center, and we sell them online. General admission can be purchased online; upgrades have to be done at the Livestock Events Center, or on the phone at the Livestock Events Center,” said Fox.
The circus will have shows on the 18th through the 20th for any guests who are ready to enjoy a lively day of entertainment, in support of an organization that cares. After all, the Shriners’ motto reads, “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.”