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Emmitsburg may not invite circus to return

(12/3) The Emmitsburg Town Council postponed a decision on inviting a circus to town due to a protest lodged by one of the board members.

Town Mayor James E. Hoover told the council Monday evening that he "just got a phone call Wednesday that they (the proposed circus company) have a date if we’re interested."

Hoover identified the circus as Kelly Miller Circus, an enterprise that was greeted two years ago in Emmitsburg with animal rights protesters at the Town Square and at the entrance to the event.

Mayor Hoover stated, "We have talked about a few times (regarding) the (return of) Kelly Miller Circus" since the enterprise’s 2007 appearance.

The mayor said the circus has a May 30 opening if the town would be interested in booking them.

"If there is no opposition," Hoover said, "I need to give them a call back to confirm that date or deny that date or deny them period."

Hoover noted that last year the board had expressed support for having the circus return to Emmitsburg "and I wanted to see if that support’s still good with this board."

"They need that (approval) as soon as possible, so if we can get that and give them a call back this week is what I would prefer to do," Hoover said.

"They’re doing their schedule (now). Evidently, they pretty much have their route designed," he said, meaning there was little flexibility regarding available days.

The circus was not invited back in 2008 due to the available dates conflicting with the Mother Seton Elementary School carnival.

"Because of the carnival, it just didn’t work out well for us," the mayor said.

Councilwoman Denise Etris, however, expressed her opposition to having the circus back in town.

"I know it’s a very popular thing, and I know it’s giving a lot of kids in town an opportunity to probably see animals that they would not usually see in Emmitsburg up close," Etris stated, "but I do want to sort of go on record to say I am opposed to it."

The councillor stated that she was opposed to to any circus that has animals.

"I think I mentioned the last time about us exploring maybe people circuses rather than those with animals," Etris said. "I want to go on and say I am not in favor of it because, it doesn’t matter whether they particularly mistreat their animals, I just don’t think it is a good way of life for the animals."

Board President Christopher V. Staiger said that, because a member of the council expressed dissension on the issue, the council could not give the mayor a consensus to proceed to contact the circus and schedule the event.

"I think we need to bring it back as an agenda item for a vote," Staiger said, "Since we have one commissioner who has expressed some concerns, I think we would require a vote."

"With one concerned commissioner, I feel we should have the opportunity to explore that further, call a vote and have everyone take a position…as an advertised topic," Staiger told the council.

A discussion and possible vote has been scheduled for the December 15 meeting.

Rick Fulton may be contacted at

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