Metro-East Living

Ainad Shriners bring circus, parade and 5K run to Belleville


Carden International Circus’ powerful elephants are trained to do intricate moves.
Carden International Circus’ powerful elephants are trained to do intricate moves. Provided

The Ainad Shriners have a big weekend planned to entertain and thrill your whole family in Belleville. It gets off to a fast start with the Shriners Parade 5K Run/Walk, followed by the popular circus parade on Friday, and four performances of the Ainad Shriners Circus on Saturday and Sunday.

The 50th annual Ainad Shrine Circus features animal acts, clowns and acts of derring-do. Dynamic ringmaster Ian Garden and the circus’ own Clown Alley will raise the excitement level for Doug Terranova’s Tigers; the equine antics of Hugo’s Arabian Knights; the Barbie Doll Sisters, who create magic with their quick-change transformation act; amazing acts of balance and foot juggling by Rolla Bolla Ayalas; a human cannonball; and The Mongolian Sisters contortionists, Miss Mansi and Miss Marina, who will tie themselves into knots before your eyes.

And that’s just before intermission. Take a deep breath, enjoy a snack and check out the circus souvenirs.

Then hold tight as Saturn Garcia reaches new heights of drama and excitement on his motorcycle on the Wheel of Destiny. Jugglers, aerialists and clowns will take you up to a parade of elephants doing trick you (and they) won’t soon forget. Motorcycle Madness’ name says it all as riders flash around a steel globe at full bore in a rhythmic mode.


Here’s what you need to know about the weekend’s events.

The circus

▪  What: Carden International Three-Ring Circus

▪  When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday

▪  Where: Belle-Clair Fairgrounds, 200 South Belt East in Belleville

▪  Tickets: $15 adults, $10 children. They can be purchased at all Southern Illinois Huck’s stores, MotoMarts and Schnucks, and at the circus ticket window.

▪  Proceeds: Benefit Ainad Shriners operations.

▪  Information: for circus stops in Belleville, Jerseyville, Fairfield, Olney, Salem and DuQuoin

The parade

▪  What: It's a good idea to bring your lawn chairs early and pick out a spot along Main Street to see Shriners go-carts and cars, bands and clowns, along with local bands, dance groups and organizations strutting their stuff.

▪  When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

▪  Where: through downtown Belleville, from 17th and West Main streets, around Veterans Memorial Fountain, ending at 800 East Main.

The parade 5K

▪  What: The run/walk begins at Union United Methodist Church, 721 East Main St., heading west on Main for 1 1/2 miles and back. Participants will be cheered on by people lining Main Street for the circus parade.

▪  When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, just before the Shriners Parade.

▪  Cost: $30 for all registrants.

▪  How to register: Online registration is closed. In-person registration and packet pickup is available from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday and 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. before the race on Friday on at Union United’s parking lot.

▪  Proceeds: Benefit Shriners Hospital for Children-St. Louis and local Belleville children’s summer programs.

▪ Information: Email