Keep an eye out for the Big Top!


As the days shorten and cool down, fall entertainment is in full swing for Pecos County. One of the largest events on the autumn docket is the arrival of Shrine Circus on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Ringmaster Brian LaPalme shared his enthusiasm for circus life and the show in an interview with the Pioneer. LaPalme’s love of the circus started years ago, when he was just a child learning magic and showmanship from his father.

“I’ve been doing this and having fun doing it now for 41 years,” LaPalme explained. “At 60 years old, I still remember being five and riding an elephant. I remember touching the prickly, course hair of that giant creature. I’m very passionate about my job; it is good, clean family entertainment.”

Though LaPalme’s role in this circuit is as the Ringmaster, his talents are widespread. In fact, LaPalme is also a chef and special effects make-up artist who has also perfected the arts of fire eating, sword swallowing, mind-reading, and straight jacket escape. 

“During this show, I won’t act as a circus performer, though,” LaPalme said. “As a Ringmaster, my role is really as a cheerleader. People aren’t used to live entertainment anymore with interactive parts. The Ringmaster’s job is to get the people into what they are seeing and to elicit emotion. I help people to fully experience the show. We want you to participate!”

Some of the experiences the public can expect from Shrine Circus include live animals, aerialists, clowns, and other acts.  

“Since Ringling Brothers closed, we are the largest circus in the U.S.,” LaPalme said. “We still have elephants, tigers, and lots more! An hour before the show, adults and children can ride the elephants and ponies. If you’re at a zoo or a park, you are looking at them from a distance; here, you can actually ride them.”

LaPalme also stressed that this may be audiences’ last chance to see live exotic animals in the circus due to the issuances of exotic animal permits.

“Several weeks ago, the Governor of Illinois passed a law saying that circuses wouldn’t be able to bring the animals to that state starting in January,” said LaPalme. “We love the animals we work with. Contact with the animals is an important part of our show, but we will no longer be able to bring that portion to Illinois.”

The citizens of Fort Stockton will see many amazing acts at the Shrine Circus on Nov. 7 in a show that LaPalme says will pull everyone in.

For more information, visit the circus’s website at