FREEPORT – For the 10th consecutive year, Merriconeag Waldorf School in Freeport is hosting the traveling band of performers ages 11-18 known as Circus Smirkus, with shows Monday, Aug. 4 and Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 1 and 6 p.m. both days.

Tickets for the shows, to be held on the school grounds at 57 Desert Road, are $21 for adults and $18 for seniors and children under 13. However, tickets are available at a reduced price or no cost for those who cannot afford them. Mary Martin, events coordinator at the school, also is coordinator for the Freeport Matinee Program, which provides reduced-price or free tickets to agencies such as Freeport Community Services, the Casco Bay YMCA of Freeport, town recreation programs and more. The big tent holds upward of 800 people, and the shows normally sell out, Martin said. Tickets are available at Royal River Natural Foods on U.S. Route 1 or online at

Martin said that Circus Smirkus is a throwback to old circuses, but with no animals. There is tumbling, aerial wire walking, clowns and more.

“It’s the old European-style traveling circus,” she said. “They bring their big tent in which they perform, and their food trailer. It’s really all focused on skill. Each year there is a theme.”

This year’s theme is “Anchors Away for Alantis,” and, Martin said, clowns will act out the theme with mimes and humorous acts.

“It’s slapstick,” she said. “Sometimes when they’re doing an aerial or some kind of stunt, the clowns will come out on stage.”

Martin said that the performers are international. They are based in Greensboro, N.H., and begin training there in June, she said.

“We’re one of 15 venues this year in the Northeast,” she said, “but it is an international traveling circus.”

Home stays are an integral part of Circus Smirkus. A dozen families from Merriconeag will take in the troupers for three nights, beginning on Aug. 3. Jen Fitzpatrick of Freeport and her family will host Circus Smirkus performers for a fifth consecutive year. Fitzpatrick’s daughters Rhea, 13, and Iris, 7, can’t wait.

“They’re the reason why we keep hosting,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s just become part of our family life. We love it. They’re humble, nice kids.”

Rhea and Iris Fitzpatrick are anxious for Aug. 3 to come.

“They’re just to excited to know who’s coming,” their mother said. “We host girls. We have their favorite foods and we have their rooms ready.”

The interaction between the performers and the host families goes beyond the homes.

“They see us in the audience and they wave to the girls,” Fitzpatrick said. “We feel like we have stars in our home.”

The Fitzpatricks will pick their guests up at the school at around 5 p.m. Patrick Quigg of Freeport, owner of Riverfront Barbecue in Augusta, caters a big welcoming barbecue there for the appreciative troupers.

“These kids have so much energy, and they direct it in a really positive way,” Ftizpatrick said. “It’s so affirming to have young people so joyous.”

The Magic Matinee Program brings to the circus children with disabilities, medical issues or other special needs, including children from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Big Brother/Big Sister and more. Financial support has come from Merriconeag’s Board of Directors as well as area businesses, corporate sponsorships and individuals.

Martin will take some children to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland.

“That’s just a true culmination of what it’s all about,” she said. It’s so inspiring, because it’s for the youth.”


Circus Smirkus presents “Anchors Away for Atlantis,” Monday, Aug. 4 and Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 1 and 6 p.m. both days, at Merriconeag Waldorf School, 57 Desert Road, Freeport. Tickets are $18-$21, and are available at Royal River Natural Foods, Freeport, or online at For more information about sponsoring circus tickets for a child, email [email protected] or call 865-3900, ext. 113.

The family of Iris Fitzpatrick, front, and her sister Rhea, second from left in back, will play host to Circus Smirkus performers again this year in their Freeport home. The photo from last year’s visit shows, from left, Alison Kym, Rhea Fitzpatrick, Emma Rogers and Alyssa Mattei. 

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