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Cirque de Shreve benefit honors Shreveport's circus ties

Kate Archer Kent

Plans for a Shreveport museum’s fundraiser will rekindle a rich part of the city’s history: the Mighty Haag Circus.

The Algur Meadows Museum of Art benefit is called 

Cirque de Shreve. The affair will be held on the grounds of the winter home of a circus that traveled the countryside in the U.S. and Canada for 40 years ending its run in 1938.

Benefit co-organizer Sherry Kerr’s landmark home, Pine Wold Manor, sits on the property that once belonged to circus owner, banker and real estate mogul Ernest Haag.

“There were giraffes. There were elephants. There were camels. All of this is carefully archived. The historical society keeps track. The reason why the party is here is because all of that went on here,” Kerr said, during an interview in her carriage house.

Kerr is creating a display of the circus’s Shreveport roots. It’s a collection of photos and artifacts she obtained from LSU Shreveport archives and purchased on eBay. Co-organizer and photographer Scarlett Hendricks thinks the setting and back story are the makings for a unique event.

“We just wanted to have a really great party as a renaissance for the Meadows, and what better place than Pine Wold Manor with this circus theme that little has been talked about,” Hendricks said.

Credit Kate Archer Kent
Sherry Kerr of Shreveport is collecting stories and artifacts relating to the Mighty Haag Circus that wintered on her property.

Artist Talbot Hopkins Trudeau has rounded up more than 120 works from a wide range of artists in Louisiana and across the nation that will be part of a silent auction. She found an outpouring of support from the artist community when she asked for donations.

“It’s all positive wanting to honor Meadows, support Meadows, keep Meadows flourishing in Shreveport because it is a jewel and gem for the artists and residents of Shreveport,” Hopkins Trudeau said.

Kerr’s backyard will come to life with acrobats, jugglers, musicians, and stunt artists. The benefit will comingle with history. Somewhere on her property a baby elephant is buried. Not urban legend, Kerr insists. The Mighty Haag Circus was a breakthrough in many ways.

“Helen Haag was the first woman to be picked up by the trunk of an elephant. The Haag Circus had the very first female clown. The first camel born on North American soil was in the Mighty Haag Circus. There are a lot of interesting tidbits like that,” Kerr said.

Cirque de Shreve is set for Saturday, Nov. 1, from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Pine Wold Manor, 2745 Fairfield Avenue, in Shreveport.

The organizers expect several hundred people to attend.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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