Family circus finds new home in Kentucky

BEREA, Kentucky-- The skills of the Kent family seem limitless. They're construction workers, sign hangers, and sound technicians. But they're also acrobats, magicians and animal trainers.

To see all this, you’d expect a large cast of performers, but it’s just Victor Kent and four of his seven children.

Until about a year ago, home base for this family circus was northern California. But more and more of their bookings were for fairs and festivals in the south and Midwest. So, they decided it was time to move.

Victor Kent says Kentucky seemed to be right in the middle of the places they needed to go to most frequently. "It didn’t hurt that Kentucky is a comforting place. Every time we traveled here we were just happy," he said.

They chose Madison County because their oldest daughter had discovered Berea College. The Kents quickly became a part of the community and recently performed a show as a fundraiser for the local chamber of commerce.

The family matriarch, Mami Kent, loves that all of the kids have embraced circus life. They’ll be traveling most of the summer and no one has to stay behind.

“Each one of us has a distinct skill and talent and way of thinking, " she said. "So when we face any problem in the show, two heads are better than one… or seven or nine heads are better than one, so we solve what’s possible."

She used to stay home while the others traveled, but she taught herself to juggle a few years ago while the family was away. When they returned, Mami surprised the others with her new talent and now she goes on the road, too.

The kids know their lifestyle is fascinating to the other children they meet on the road.

“But I think they’re fascinating too, because we’re always traveling and they have different things they do at home like sports and field trips," said 13-year-old Amelia Kent.

Both parents admit it can be nerve-wracking to see your children hanging from the rafters or taking a stab at new tricks, but they believe performing builds confidence that will serve the kids well throughout their lives.

The only problem with this business model is that children grow up, move away and start lives of their own. Two have already done that. So what does that mean for the future of the family circus?

Victor laughs. "There's always grandchildren!"

He expects a couple of the children will keep performing and he will still do one-man magic shows, no matter what happens to the group.

There may be hoops to jump through each show season, but The Kents are especially happy this year, knowing when they return from the road, they have friends and fans waiting for them in their newKentucky home.

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