JIM WOODCOCK/Gazette StaffA performer works with the elephants during a performance of the Shrine Circus in 2010. This year the Shriners are trying a new approach to help get the word out about ticket availability to the show.
In just a few months, Billings will host acrobats, clowns and performing pachyderms.
The 60th annual Al Bedoo Shrine Circus is scheduled for March 30 through April 3.
The Shriners are ready to get things rolling and are set to send out 15,000 postcards to business owners and select residents across the region.
“We are asking them to be sponsors of the event,” said the Shrine's Dave Bergeson.
This is the first year the Shriners have sent out preliminary postcards.
“Last year we didn't do as well as we could in getting people to do what they needed to do,” Bergeson said.
“It's getting tougher to get people out working and soliciting. The weather hasn't always cooperated the last couple years.”
The postcard says a Shriner will personally call the businesses to find out if they are interested in sponsoring.
After that, Shriners will go to schools and day cares within 100 miles of Billings, giving out at least 20,000 free tickets to children in preschool up to sixth grade.
Bergeson said that, in past years, they've given out as many as 40,000 tickets to children.
“Our main goal has always been that every child be able to see the circus,” Bergeson said.
“We don't turn them away. Usually if we get kids, even junior high kids or older who want to go in and see the circus, we'll let them in.”
While the act list is still undetermined, Bergeson said he's sure it will be a great show.
“We have a real strong advantage here in our community with our little auditorium here,” Bergeson said. “The elephants and the tigers and whatever we bring in are no more than 50 feet away from you.”
Bergeson said the floor to the auditorium was built with elephants in mind back in the 1950s.