Come one, come all! The circus stops in Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2024

SALISBURY — As soon as Phillip “Dusty” Sadler decided he wanted to be in the circus, he never thought of doing anything else.

“It all started, I guess, when I was about four years old. I saw the circus for the first time and knew that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Sadler said. 

Sadler is the owner of “Dusty’s All Star Circus” where he and his talented performers travel the Southeast to demonstrate their abilities to captive audiences. Four years ago, after working as a clown for three decades, Sadler finally decided it was time to go off on his own. 

“COVID hit and I was sitting at home in Sarasota, Florida, with nothing to do. I’ve seen all the Netflix and TV game shows I could stand, so I decided to make my dream a reality,” Sadler said. “It’s something that’s always been there. I always wanted to have my own circus and it’s always been a plan of mine.”

“Dusty’s All Star Circus” recently stopped in Salisbury at Hall Gym to give kids and their parents a sight to see. Sadler said this is their third year operating two separate tours in the spring and fall. Where as the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus takes place in large stadiums, “Dusty’s” differentiates themselves by leaning into their size and the venues they inhabit. 

“Once it starts, it goes very quickly because the acts entertain you so much that you just want more at the end of it. Also, we’re small and our seating is close, we make it very intimate. What we do with this show is we brought the circus back to the children. It’s very much a family oriented show from beginning to end,” Sadler said. 

The circus’ ringmaster for the evening was T.J. Bunch, who guided the audience through the eclectic performances. The first taste of things was an appearance by the show’s resident clown, Renaldo, who says he was born in the circus business.

“I am the second generation in my family to be continuing this. I’ve done it for over 15 years. It’s a lifelong dream,” Renaldo said.

Yandong Wu, who began learning to perform when he was only four years old, then came out to demonstrate his aptitude of tossing and spinning a butterfly fork, a long staff with a sharp end that made a rattling sound as it spun. 

Paola Gomez awed everyone with her aerial skills with nothing but a long sash soundtracked to the James Bond theme, “Skyfall.” Yating Lie used a barrel and a plastic ring for her contortionist feat while Alberto Algeria juggled pins and rings with masterful hand-eye coordination. 

His son, Alek, did Washington trapeze maneuvers that had to be seen to be believed. Esmeralda Rodagell then carried out jaw-dropping foot juggling maneuvers. Lastly, Lie accomplished wonderful unicycle tricks before the entire cast came out to take a bow. 

In the end, those in attendance couldn’t get enough of the excitement. Bryce Ford brought her five-year-old daughter to the show and she was thankful to the city for offering this to the public. 

“It was nice! I’m glad Salisbury has something fun to do around here for kids,” Ford said. 

Debbie Butchart took her grandchildren to the circus and she was very pleased by it, too.

“It was cute. It was a nice afternoon,” Butchart said.