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Once upon a time, more than 150 years ago, a street clown from France and an equestrienne ballerina from Hungary met, fell in love and ran off to Venice to marry, start a family and launch a circus.

The Zoppe Family Circus is still going strong today, and UApresents brings it here this weekend

This is your old-fashioned kind of circus: clowns, acrobatics, fancy horse work, and dogs doing tricks. If you are looking for tamed lions or tap-dancing elephants, Zoppe is not it.

“The Zoppe circus evokes something from a picture book: the clown, the trapeze, the dancing dogs, the ring and the tent,” said a New York Times article.

“The show is frozen in time.”

The Zoppe is sort of a one-ring wonder, and it’s still all in the family — well, almost. About half of the close to 30 members of the circus are Zoppes, and the rest are considered family, Giovanni Zoppe has said.

The troupe travels about 22 weeks a year and gathers up fans wherever it goes — including in Tucson, where it has made a few stops.

To compound the fun with the circus this weekend, UApresents’ Children’s Festival will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday outside the big top in Reid Park. Expect lots of fun — and to learn a few things, too.

Zoppe performs at 7 p.m. Friday; 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday at Reid Park, East 22nd Street and South Country Club Road. Look for the big top. Tickets are to and are available at uapresents.org, 621-3341, or at the door two hours before the first show of each day.

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