All Star Circus returns to Orleans County this week

Photos by Tom Rivers: After a two-year absence, Slinko and other performers in Billy Martin’s Cole All Star Circus returned to local schools last year. They will be back again this week and next week. Slinko is shown at the Holley Elementary School Intermediate Gym on Feb. 9, 2022.

Posted 18 January 2023 at 8:30 am

By Ginny Kropf and Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Billy Martin’s Cole All Star Circus will soon return to Orleans County with shows at four local schools.

Albion will host Billy Martin’s Cole All Star Circus on Thursday with shows at 5 and 7 p.m. in the elementary school gym. Adult tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and that entitles two kids to come in for free.

This dog is dressed as Elsa from Frozen while the song, “Let It Go,” was played during the circus at Albion in this photo from Jan. 18, 2017.

Medina will host the circus on Friday with shows at 5:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. at Wise Intermediate School. The following week there will be a 6:30 p.m. show on Jan. 26 at the Holley Elementary Gym and then a 6:30 p.m. show on Jan. 27 at the Kendall High School Gym.

Billy Martin has been leading the circus for nearly 50 years, visiting small towns in performances that also serve as fundraisers for an organization in the school or community .

Most of the circus’s schedule was wiped out for nearly two years of the Covid pandemic.

Billy Martin and the performers last year returned to performing their New York and Pennsylvania tour on Feb. 1, and were greeted with big crowds.

“It’s very emotional,” Martin said during intermission of the first show in Holley on Feb. 9. “I thought people might have forgotten about us.”

The circus was able to survive during the pandemic by working out of an amusement park in Iowa for 21 weeks in both 2020 and 2021.

Billy Martin was 12 years old when he met legendary showman James M. Cole in 1972 during an indoor performance at Martin’s hometown school in Olean. His fascination with the circus evolved into a friendship with Cole, and at age 14, Martin began booking schools for the circus throughout Western New York.

After graduating from high school in 1977, Martin joined the Cole Circus. He performed a juggling/balancing act, served as ringmaster and became Cole’s right-hand man. When Cole retired at the age of 80, Martin purchased the show and remains at its helm today. With his wife Angela, an accomplished aerialist and consummate circus performer, they continue the legacy of the Cole All-Star Circus.

In Medina, the performances will be a fundraiser for the Orleans Community Health Foundation.