Wenatchee  Youth  Circus  hosts  visiting  Circus  Kids

The Amazing Summer of 2015!

By:  Jim Cole      Photos by Jennifer Cave Thacker,  Melissa Witt Spencer, Jim Cole, and the Great Y Circus.

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Left to Right: Alice Hafner (16) from Sailor Circus in Sarasota, FL , Carley Brooke Williams (20) from the Peru Amateur Circus in Peru, IN, Rebekah Schneblin (15) from the Great All American Youth Circus in Redlands, CA, and Lily-Ann Geren (10) from the Wenatchee Youth Circus.

I honestly believe this has never before been done in youth circus!   The Wenatchee Youth Circus, a traveling youth circus based out of Wenatchee Washington, this year added to it’s own array of talented young performers, by inviting guest performers from 3 other performing youth circuses!

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The 2015 edition of the Wenatchee Youth Circus included a “Seattle Seahawks Football theme for the acro tumbling act. The entire show participated in this.

The guest performers started arriving on the Wenatchee Youth Circus in June with Jacob Swe, who just graduated from Sailor Circus in Sarasota, and is making this his 2nd year on this show.   Then on July 19, Alice Hafner flew in to join the show.  She had already met 3 of the Wenatchee kids last winter when they visited Sailor Circus, and invited her to join thier show for a while.  About that same time, Rebekah and her mom joined the show also, as they were visiting relatives who live in Washington State.   The 3 visiting kids performed on the Renton, WA date, July 24 & 25.


Alice arrives at the Seattle Airport and is presented with her Wenatchee Youth Circus T-shirt.

The next week, they were joined by Carley Brooke Williams, who had just completed their summer shows in Peru, Indiana.   All of the visiting kids were assigned “host families” and had to have necessary registration and insurance forms filled out by their parents.  Even though they were “visiting guest performers” they had to follow the same rules as do regular members of the Wenatchee Youth Circus.  But the first rule is to have FUN and make new friends!   The kids instantly bonded and made this a memorable experience for all!


Alice Hafner, Sailor Circus:  “Performing with the Wenatchee Youth Circus over this past summer was an incredible opportunity. It was such a rare experience to perform with students from  four different youth circuses! I think Carley, Rebecca, and I were all in a sort of culture shock when we arrived in Washington, but everyone was so welcoming and helpful. I learned so much about the different programs around the country and made great friends. We learned circus skills from one another and were able to try many new things”. 


The kids taking a break between practice in Renton. Carley would arrive the following week.                              


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The kids camped out on the circus lots in Renton and Ellensburg.    During off time they stayed with a host family.                                                                                                                           


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Rain threatened the Renton shows but it held off and all 3 shows went on. Rebekah, Lily-Ann, and Alice perform in the aerial production. Carley would join for the next date.



July 29, Carley Arrives at the Seattle airport greeted by her new circus friends.

This “act exchange” program is prompted by Circus4Youth, and is also encouraged by the American Youth Circus Organization.   


An evening boat ride in Seattle with dinner greeted Carley, who was joined by McKenzie and Alice!


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Alice is getting some practice in with trainer Brandon Brown.

These visting kids are talented performers on their own youth circus programs!


Alice performing in High Wire at Sailor Circus in Sarasota, FL


Rebekah on Solo Trapeze at the Great All American Youth Circus in Redlands, CA

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Carley performs on Roman Rings at the Peru Amateur Circus, just a few days prior to her visit to Wenatchee.

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Returning to the Wenatchee Youth Circus for the 2nd year is trapeze flyer Jacob Swe, also from Sailor Circus in Sarasota, FL.


Carley Williams, Peru Circus:    “I have performed with the Peru Amateur Circus for most of my life, and this past summer I was able to visit the Wenatchee Youth Circus in Washington. My first day on lot in Washington was such a crazy experience, and not only because it ended up being over 100 degrees.  That first day I got to find out what it was like to set up an entire circus lot. I put in effort into help with each rig, whether it was attempting to pound in a stake or helping pull up a net.  This was not an experience I was used to and not one that I expected to take an entire day.  While I was there I met so many young performers from Wenatchee and even some of the previous performers who were my age.  Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging and wanted me to be a part of their circus. The young men of the low wire were constantly encouraging me to learn how to walk with my knees bent and with a bounce, since I’m used to walking on a “tight” wire.  They wanted me to learn some of their tricks so I would be able to perform in the shows, even though it meant taking away some of their individual tricks.  I did not want to keep others from performing what they had worked so hard on, so a previous performer helped me learn a routine to an act that I had never heard of before called Spansets.  It was awesome working around so much encouragement.   Even the main trainer welcomed me into their show with open arms.   While I was there I also met performers from other youth circuses across the country who I was blessed to perform with.  There were two people from Florida and one from California, and it was really interesting to talk with them about to differences between our circuses.  Overall it was such a wonderful experience and I’m glad for the many new friends that I made during that time”. 

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Carley helping with set up on the circus lot in Ellensburg with her new friend McKenzie.

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Alice an Jacob help with the cook shack awning on a very hot day!


Alice takes her turn in pounding iron rigging stakes in the ground. A new circus skill not used at Sailor Circus. Glasses on for safety!



Carley practices on low wire.

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Carley Practicing on “Spansets” in 100+ degree temps!



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Rebekah working with the Weantchee kids in Adagio practice.


“My name is Rebekah Schneblin. I am 15 years old and I have been in circus for 8 years. Last summer while on a family vacation, I got to perform with the Wenatchee Youth Circus. Every person welcomed us and were super nice. It was a fun experience and I hope to do it again. I made lots of friends. I hope some of them can come and visit my circus in California.”


Beating the 100+ degree heat. The kids take a well deserved break and enjoy swimming in a local river. The mountain fed water was actually cold!


A Pre-Halloween party for the kids (and a few adults) on Friday evening in Ellensburg.


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Lily – Ann performing on Swinging Ladders in last year’s show.


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Between show dates, Lily-Ann practices flying trapeze, an act she will hopefully soon be in.


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Her brothers Eathyn and Tristen now perform in Flying Trapeze.


 Lily – Ann Geren: “I wanted to say that performing with Carley, Rebecca, Alice, was wonderful! I got along with Alice really well because she is so positive and we made an aerial circus routine up like that.  She is amazing!  I liked Rebecca  because she was so friendly and nice to everyone, she let everyone try her aerial silks hammock rigging.  I really enjoyed performing with her!  Carley, she can really help them understand. I know she really helped with ground tumbling. I loved that I was a part of something that has never been done before. Four people from four different circuses performing all at once.  In all, I really enjoyed performing with all three of those girls and  I hope they come back next year!”


And now, for this first time ever, on any youth circus, performers from FOUR (4) different youth circuses performing TOGETHER!

(August 1, 2015, Ellensburg, WA)


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Lily-Ann performs on the Spanish Web.



Carley Brooke Williams on the Aerial Spanset. She remained on the show for the Pierce County Fair dates and returned home on Aug. 10.

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Rebekah on the Aerial Hammock. She was there for the Renton and Ellensburg dates.


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Alice on the Spanish Web.   She remained on the show for the Pierce County Fair dates .


All 4 girls working together in Ellensburg, WA


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A final style and smile!

From the Wenatchee Youth Circus…

Glenna Brown, Co-Director:  “I can say this, each kid was unique, hard working, blended in perfectly with our group, was accepted and loved by our group, and I hope they know they can come back any time.  We accept and keep them now as family…..that’s just what we do!” 


Meliesa Hawley, Producing Clown:  “In the summer of 2015, Wenatchee Youth Circus was privileged to be joined by a number performers from other circuses who lived, traveled, worked and performed with us.  Carley Williams joined us from the Peru Amateur Circus in Peru, Indiana.  While traveling with us, Carley performed an aerial act on our spansets and a ground act with our Adagio act.  Carley was able to spend several weeks with us, and commented how impressed she was with how hard our kids work to set up and tear down equipment at Wenatchee Youth Circus.

Bringing her own equipment, we also had Rebekah Schneblin from the Great All American Youth Circus in Redlands, California, with her aerial hammock.  Wenatchee Youth Circus has never had an aerial hammock in our show, and we were able to work Rebekah’s act simultaneously with our Spanish Webs.  Our crowds enjoyed her performance, and she was able to teach our performers some of her beautiful, graceful aerial style.

Alice Hafner traveled from Sailor Youth Circus in Sarasota, Florida to spend several weeks on the road with us.  She performed Spanish Webs together with our performers, showing them some over her ability to improvise the act.  She also joined us in our tumbling act, adding her acrobatic skills to our Seahawks themed performance.  Alice showed our high wire walkers some impressive moves to add to our show, and worked with some of our performers to make our show even better.  

For the second summer, Jacob Swe brought his incomparable style and skill to our show.  He performed in our flying trapeze, teeterboard, trampoline, Adagio, and tumbling.  Not only does Jacob improve our performers with his beautiful form, but he and one of our performers did Wenatchee Youth Circus’s first duo male trapeze act.  Jacob’s strength, form and ability were on full display as he dazzled the audience in the duo trapeze, making history in our show.

We were also privileged to have a visit from Bekki Ashton from the Joseph Ashton Circus in Perth, Australia.  She brought her two children, Rikki and Dante Ashton-Harris.  Rikki performed in trampoline and tumbling, while Dante devoted her time to teaching new moves to our single trapeze aerialists.  Dante also joined our teeterboard act to perform in our homeshows.  The Ashtons returned to Australia with one of our graduating Seniors, Taylor Henderson, who will spend the next year traveling and performing in Australia with them.

“All our traveling performers spent time traveling and enjoying our performers on the road.  The many behind the scenes photos show them fitting right in to the group of kids that travel with the Wenatchee Youth Circus to have a fantastic time.  One of the best things about Wenatchee Youth Circus is the camaraderie of the performers as they travel, work, live, and perform together.  We are grateful for the skills and tricks each of these performers brought to us and glad we were able to give them an opportunity to perform alongside our kids.  We look forward to many continuing circus exchanges in the future as we work together with other youth circuses to take our shows to the next level”.


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Circus4Youth Chairman Jim Cole with visiting circus kids.

…And yet another visit during the Wenatchee Home Shows, August 20 – 22, the Bekki Ashton Family and friends, from Australia!   



L-R Coen Dillard, Betsy Dillard, Dante Ashton, Taylor Henderson, Bekki Ashton, and Rikki Ashton.




ATTENTION YOUTH CIRCUS KIDS!   Would you like to travel and guest perform with the Wenatchee Youth Circus in 2016?    Might be entirely possible!  Contact them via e-mail: 

More Photos of the Wenatchhe Youth Circus, Sailor Circus, and the Peru Circus on our Circus4Youth Facebook page.