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The circus is coming to town | MAD Life Entertainment

FRANKTON — Rows of preschool children sat on the floor of a Frankton Elementary classroom, paying full attention to the adult at the front of the room.

Who captivated these four- and five-year-olds who normally have little to no attention span? Was it one of their teachers, Jamie Shepherd or Laura Melvin?


It was an outlandishly dressed woman with her hair in pigtails, wearing red britches that only reached her knees to go with red, white, and blue striped knee socks, along with a blue and white striped blouse with a blue vest, lined with colorful polka dots, and oversized shoes decorated with the sun, the moon, and planets.

To top it all off, her face was adorned with garish, over-the-top makeup.

But it wasn’t exactly the look that held the attention of the youngsters, but rather her presentation. Her act.

The person before them was a clown, but not just any old clown. It was Skeeter the Clown — specifically, an “advance clown,” to be specific.

An advance clown goes from place to place and performs to promote a circus that is coming to town. Besides entertaining and informing preschool and elementary children classroom by classroom last week, Skeeter was there to announce that the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus is coming to town.

The C&M Circus, based in Oklahoma, will come to Frankton Elementary School on Monday, May 29 for shows at 2 and 4:30 p.m. The Frankton Lions Club is the local sponsor responsible for bringing the circus to town.

T. Bausch, the woman behind makeup, is versed in the history of the American circus and clowning, which is to be expected of a bonafide graduate of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. The Ohio native first dreamed of being a clown at a young age, and was nine years-old when she first donned clown makeup.

By the time Bausch became a teenager her plan was to attend the clown school, but when she wanted to go, she was still too young because one had to be 17 to be able to attend.

When she graduated from high school, she went to Oberlin College instead, majoring in broadcasting, which led her to a career with Time-Warner Company at the very time that cable came to dominate television programming. Bausch was involved with the creation of such channels as Nickelodeon and MTV.

Still, she never lost her interest and love for clowning and by the time she was 28, she took a sabbatical from Time-Warner and followed her dream to attend clown school, graduating in 1985. Ever since, she has brought cheer to many as Skeeter the Clown, traveling to appearances at public schools, parties, and corporate shows.

For the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, she travels all over the world. Bausch averages 20,000 travel miles per year, visiting places as far away as Alaska, Mexico, and Italy.

She puts her broadcast work experience to work with a knowledge of how to entertain and promote.

She spoke about the Indiana connection to circuses with Peru, West Baden, and French Lick being centers of circus activity in the Hoosier State.

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