Friday, May 27, 2011

No summer circus for La Alianza

Nonprofit to close its doors June 1

Express Staff Writer

Some members of the community have been looking forward to seeing elephants, a trapeze and clowns come to the valley this summer. But the circus may not be coming as scheduled.

The Carson and Barnes Circus, based in Oklahoma, was planning to set up a big top in Hailey or Carey for a performance on June 18-19 as part of a fundraising event for La Alianza, a nonprofit organization serving Hispanics in Blaine County.

The circus typically partners with local organizations while on tour.

County Commissioner Angenie McCleary, who sits on the board of La Alianza, had been working with circus organizers since mid-March. Recently, she was working with the city of Carey to set up the circus tent at the County Fairgrounds. But before the details could be arranged, McCleary learned that La Alianza was running out of money too quickly to stay in operation through the summer.

McCleary said the La Alianza board decided to pass on a partnership with Carson and Barnes Circus, but that another nonprofit organization could step in to keep the dates.

McCleary said the circus can set up in an area of 300-by-500 feet, but would need parking, access to a hydrant for a 1,000-gallon water truck and a trash container. The circus makes its own electricity and has its own restrooms.

"They don't need much land," McCleary said.

La Alianza will close its doors on June 1, despite being honored, along with the Wood River Women's Charitable Organization, by the Idaho Community Foundation at the Valley Club last year.

During its four-year history as a nonprofit organization, La Alianza has provided literacy education, translation services, citizenship-preparation study groups and social services referrals to Hispanics

McCleary said the annual budget for the organization was $100,000, but that its board was only able to raise $50,000 on average.

"In some ways, La Alianza has been quite a success story," McCleary said. "But right now they only have about $3,000 left."

The Carson and Barnes Circus could not be reached by telephone by press time to see if it plans to seek another partner in the Wood River Valley.

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