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The Great Benjamins Circus coming to Oxford

One of the first major events to be held inside the new Lafayette County Arena is taking place this month, and it involves dinosaurs.

The Great Benjamins Circus, a national touring act, will make its first stop in Oxford and Lafayette County with two shows on Jan. 27. After a few local and regional events were held inside the new arena following its opening in August, this marks the first national act to use the facility.

“We are excited that the partnership between (Yoknapatawpha Arts Council) and the county to manage the space is helping to provide programs that enhance our community, generate funds to support the Multi Purpose Arena and attract regional tourism” said YAC executive director Wayne Andrews. “This is the first of several programs that complement the purpose of the facility.”

A family-owned business, Great Benjamins Circus features several live acts throughout its 90-minute show, ranging from motorcycle stunts to a human cannonball and acrobatic act called “The Wheel of Destiny.”

With the evolution of circuses and moving away from the use of live animals, Great Benjamins does include animals, but of a prehistoric nature, with three robotic dinosaurs.

“We’ve evolved. We went backwards to evolve,” Louis Leonard said. “We have the automated dinosaurs. That is our animal department. …You add the clowns, jugglers, acrobats, trapeze artists then you have basically an hour and a half show.”

Leonard is the management consultant for Great Benjamins Circus.

The circus visits roughly 150 cities throughout two tours. When they sit down to plot their tour for the upcoming year, Leonard said, they try to visit places they have not been to before, as well as making sure they do not overlap with another touring act that offers the same forms of entertainment.

“We try not to cross paths with too many people so that people in any given city don’t basically have too much of the same or get too saturated,” Leonard said. “It’s always nice to work a new building.”

The circus will offer two shows at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Prior to coming to Oxford, the circus will make stops in Greenville on Jan. 25 and Clarksdale on Jan. 26. Following Oxford, the circus will stop in Aberdeen and Yazoo City before leaving Mississippi.

The first 100 people to buy tickets for whichever show they choose to attend can get one free child ticket with every adult ticket purchased. Children’s tickets cost $10 in advance and $15 at the door, with children under the age of three getting in for free. Adult tickets cost $20 and $25 at the door. A VIP option is available, which comes with four ringside tickets and costs $99.95. Tickets can be purchased at benjaminscircus.com.