Clowning around at the Show

Gary the Great and his grandson Justin clowning around before the start of the North Coast National Show today (Thursday).

Lorraine Ashton reckons todays kids have gone soft. Too much TV, not enough exercise and not enough responsibility.

This whip-cracking grandma is part of the oldest circus in Australia Ashtons Circus which was started in the 1850s by her great great grandfather, James Henry Ashton.

Lorraine started her circus career at the age of seven and was soon riding bareback, flying on the trapeze, vaulting and clowning. These days she sticks to whip-cracking and passing on her skills to her own grandchildren, who will feature in the Ashtons Circus performances during the North Coast National Show from Thursday to Saturday, October 19-21.

The kids that come to our circus workshops have no co-ordination and absolutely no strength, said Lorraine. Everyone is so scared of getting sued or getting hurt and children arent given the opportunity to develop vital skills. Thats why the Show is such a great place. Its such a diverse mix of agriculture, craft, cooking and of course the circus, and kids get to see a whole lot of skills that are in danger of disappearing if we keep letting them sit in front of the TV.

If you want your kids to toughen up a bit, send them along to the Lorraine Ashton Circus workshops at the Show where Lorraine, husband Gary and the rest of the Ashton family will soon whip them into shape with a few lessons in trapeze, juggling and clowning. If that sounds a bit too involved, simply enjoy one of the free performances of death-defying antics under the big top.

For those people scared of clowns, the Show offers lots of alternatives: a reptile world, Old MacDonalds Farm, rides and games, agricultural displays, arts and craft in the pavilions, talent showcases and the Summerland Credit Union arena spectacular Salute to the Outback, which is on at 7pm each night, followed by a spectacular fireworks display at 8.30pm.

The Show runs for three days at the Lismore Showground and plenty of free parking is available.

Entry is $15 or $8 concession and $5 for kids 5-16. Theres also $30 family day passes.

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