Circus returning to Central Oregon


Last updated 5/12/2022 at Noon

Venardos Circus performs inside their circus tent to an audience of 400. PHOTO PROVIDED

Venardos Circus is back. The animal-free Broadway-style circus is returning to Central Oregon this month. The circus was started by Kevin Venardos. Their motto is #LiveYourCircusDream, and that shines through in their shows as each performer lives out their passion.

Jess Draper, Sisters local and The Nugget’s graphic designer, is an avid circus aficionado who last saw the Venardos Circus when they visited Redmond during Halloween week of 2021.

“I love seeing the people living out their dream in performance. It’s just magical,” said Draper.

Kevin Venardos grew up close to New York City, attending Broadway shows. He knew that he wanted to become a performer. Venardos studied musical theater at Ithaca College, and was auditioning for anything to do with singing and dancing.

“I auditioned for anything I could and was working as a waiter and caterer to pay the bills,” he said.

Venardos then had the opportunity to audition to be a ringleader in one of the Barnum & Bailey circuses.

“That transformed my life, and I was working in the Big Apple circus as the ringmaster and eventually moved to LA to do performances there,” he said.

As the years went on, though, circus shows began getting smaller and smaller and Venardos found himself in Vegas in 2005, after ending his time with Barnum & Bailey. He still felt the circus calling him.

“Flash forward to 2013; after going through a lot of life-changing moments, I decided to create a video with some performer friends, pitching an idea for our own circus. It was a dream of ours and we got some traction and decided to pitch the idea to whoever would sell it,” he said.

A year later, the Venardos Circus had its first performances at the Los Angeles County Fair.

“It was a 30-minute performance outdoors with friends of mine I knew from the performing arts world,” he said.

They then started to work their way into doing more fairs and were able to sell enough tickets to have their own rented tent for shows.

“We ended up doing 46 weeks in 25 cities after that, and we were able to finance our own tent for shows,” said Venardos.

Venardos surrounded himself with performers and friends that believed in his dream, and their own dreams to be performers.

“If you have good people around you that believe in the dream, there is nothing you cannot do,” he said.

Looking forward to years ahead, Venardos began transforming the model into the show it is today and searching for talent.

“Talent is a common commodity, but I wanted to find the people that were willing to put in the work and find that sweet combination of talent and hard-working,” he said.

Draper has been to every show that the Venardos circus has put on in Redmond since 2019.

“I love the intimate nature in the small tent, and just to really feel the magic of it,” she said.

During the pandemic, Draper and her family transformed their basement at home and put striped white and red wallpaper up so they could watch the virtual performances and feel like they were in the circus tent.

“I love the magic of it, and after a show, you are just filled with joy,” she said.

The Venardos Circus is an intimate performance with a limited 400-person audience. It is an animal-free, Broadway-style circus, which means it is theatrical and performative.

There are aspects of cabaret with a lot of the pure circus acts mixed in.

The show has a massive Broadway-style opening number, and then the traditional circus acts mixed within dance and song performances.

“It isn’t a kiddy show, but it is appropriate for all ages to enjoy, and it is a very satisfying experience,” said Venardos.

some of the talented and hardworking performers who are living out their passions with Venardos Circus. PHOTO PROVIDED

Kevin Venardos (top center), surrounded

“It is the magical, musical circus of your dreams,” said Venardos.

The performers in this circus are also the crew in the traveling tour, which is much like an original circus tradition.

“We are a very intimate show; you feel like you are close to the performers,” he said.

The Venardos Circus has been to the Redmond fairgrounds in 2019, 2020, and 2021. In 2020, the performers ended up doing a residency at the fairgrounds, putting on virtual shows via livestreaming from Redmond and sending them out internationally. The performers then returned for a Halloween show in 2021.

“We live to be on the road, expressing our creativity and bringing joy to families across the country. We can’t wait to get back to Redmond,” said Venardos.


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