Like practically every other event under the sun last year, the Hadi Shrine Temple in Evansville had no choice but to cancel what would have been the 87th edition of the Hadi Shrine Circus in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Fortunately, case numbers and hospitalizations are decreasing in the area thanks to vaccines, which means the circus will be back at the Ford Center Thanksgiving Weekend, and they want to make sure the men and women of our military get the opportunity to see it with free tickets for themselves and their families.

The Hadi Shrine Circus has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1933. Back then, the annual Thanksgiving Weekend tradition was held inside the Evansville Coliseum on Court Street in downtown Evansville. If you've ever been inside the Coliseum, you know there isn't a ton of floor space compared to what the Ford Center or even Roberts Stadium used to provide. But, as you can see from this 1936 photo from the Willard Library Archive, they made it work.

Willard Library Archive
Willard Library Archive
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Of course, I imagine the show didn't feature quite as many acts as today's Cirus does. Obviously, elephants were part of the show, and based on the four poles on either side of the ring, and the rope ladder seen on the left side of the photo, I'm guessing there was either a trapeze, or high-wire act, or both for the crowd, in what looks to be dressed in their Sunday best, to enjoy.

Today's Circus features a wide range of acts (and two more rings). The elephants, trapeze, and high-wire performers are still there alongside jugglers, extreme dirt bike performers, acrobatic groups, and of course, the Hadi Funster Clowns. Thanks to the size of the Ford Center floor, many of them can perform at the same time.

As in years past, this year's Circus will offer eight performances over the course of November 25th (Thanksgiving Day), and November 26th through 28th. Tickets are available now through the Hadi Circus website or at the Hadi Shrine ticket office at the corner of Riverside and Walnut in downtown Evansville in the parking lot across from the Hadi Shrine Temple.

Also, as they've done for the last several years, the Hadi Shriners are giving our fighting men and women and their families the opportunity to see any one of the shows absolutely free as a way to thank them for their service. The offer is available to any active-duty member of the military here in the Tri-State from any branch of service. All they need to do is stop by the Hadi Temple on Wednesday, November 17th between 4:00 and 7:00 PM during our live broadcast and present their military ID to take advantage of the offer. If they are currently stationed somewhere other than the Tri-State, a spouse or other member of their immediate family who also has a government-issued military ID can stop by to get as many tickets as they need.

The complete list of showtimes for the 87th annual Hadi Shrine Circus are listed below:

  • Thursday, November 25th (Thanksgiving Day) – 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, November 26 – 9:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 27 – 9:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 28 – 3:00 p.m.

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