Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2013, 10:33 pm

'Greatest Show on Earth' defies the impossible

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By Kevin Smith, ksmith@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Audrey Fenchel
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Siblings Ben, Samantha, Hunter and John Kastanin stand still as clowns from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus throw batons past their heads at the iWireless Center in Moline on Friday, August 30, 2013. The stunt was part of the circus pre-show held to let children and adults get up-close with the performers on the circus' opening night. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus runs through Monday.
MOLINE – Awestruck families watched in disbelief as"The Greatest Show on Earth" defied the impossible with "Dragons" on Friday at the iWireless Center in Moline.

With the return of the ever-popular Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus,The Dispatch/Argus turned over the reporter pad, figuratively, to 8-year-old Audrey Fenchel, of Taylor Ridge, the winner of the Kid Critic Contest.

We provided Audrey with four VIP tickets to the circus and asked for her take on the show.

Audrey -- and her friends Kimber and Victoria -- were restless with anticipation before the show started. Accompanied by Audrey's mom, Rea Eleene Woolley, they arrived early enough to see the arena packed with families meeting with performers.

Instead of jumping on the inflated bounce-house set up where elephants soon would parade, the girls loaded up on snacks before the big show.

"Our tummies are going to hurt tonight!" Kimber said.

After pre-gaming with pizza, snow cones and comically large bags of cotton candy, Audrey and her friends were pumped by the time the show was underway.

Audrey said more than anything she was looking forward to seeing motorcycle stunts and all the animals. As the show kicked off with daring acts of bravery and heart-warming interactions between animals and their keepers, it seemed Audrey and her friends were not let down.

The trio lit up when the horse riders took to the ring. Stunt performers effortlessly did handstands and other tricks on galloping horses, all to a chorus of oohs and ahhs.

"That's so cool!" Audrey enthused. "He wentunderthe horse!"

Witnessing acrobats suspended by the strength of their own hair, Audrey also had a few new ideas.

"I can imagine myself doing that," she said. "I'm not the kind of person who gets nervous easily."

Audrey said she thoroughly enjoyed Friday night's show. The hard part, according to our kid critic, was deciding which act she enjoyed most.


If you go:

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: "Dragons" at the iWireless Center, 1201 River Drive, Moline, continues with shows through Monday.

Showtimes are 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. today; 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday; and 1 p.m. Monday.

Tickets start at $13. For more information call 800-745-3000.