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Circus Playground, Sports Festival At Payne Park On Saturday

A circus-themed playground and the first-ever Sarasota Sports Festival will take place Saturday at Payne Park.

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It's going to be a circus at this weekend. 

Maybe not a full-blown big top, but with a new circus-themed playground set to open, circus performers helping celebrate and the Sarasota Sports Festival on Saturday, it's as close as you can get to the real thing.

The playground will open Saturday — the same day as the first-ever Sarasota Sports Festival.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will perform several free interactive CircusFit performances throughout the day to celebrate the opening of the playground. 

Ringling Bros. will perform three free CircusFit shows near the playground at:  9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. 

The performances will be interactive with the audience and include fun activities such as a laugh-a-thon, obstacle course and fitness training combining fun circus skills with stretching, strength building and aerobic exercise.

Several clowns will be on hand at the festival, plus a Ringling Bros. balloon artist will bend balloons into a variety of animal shapes and hats. There's even a Ringling Bros.’ Diaper Dash at 10 a.m. — a fun run for ages 1-to-4-years-old. 

The $586,341 worth of new playground equipment features mini-big tops and flags, slides, tubes, swings and plenty of places to climb. The project is funded by the penny sales tax.

The park will also feature .

The playground offers two areas for different age groups:  one area for children ages 2-to-5-years-old and the other for ages 5-to-12-years-old.  It can even handle 380 children playing simultaneously. 

The Sports Festival is free and runs 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday rain or shine.  

“I’m thrilled the opening of the playground will coincide with the festival,” said Mayor Suzanne Atwell. “It’s been exciting to watch the playground come out of the ground with its circus theme and bright colors.  With such a rich circus history in Sarasota, it’s only fitting Ringling Bros. and Barnum  & Bailey® will be there to help us clown around and celebrate in style,” said Mayor Atwell.

The Sarasota Sports Festival will include a one mile family fun run/walk, BMX and Strider bicycling, disc golf, aerobic tennis, 10 & under tennis, Teddy Tennis (ages 3-6), skateboarding and group exercise classes.  Equipment will be provided for each sport.

Registration forms must be completed to participate. A PDF of the schedule can be viewed above underneath the photos. 

Free public parking will be available in the Sarasota County parking garage, located at Ringling Boulevard and School Avenue, adjacent to Payne Park. 

For more information about the Sarasota Sports Festival, including the new playground, visit www.Facebook.com/SarasotaSportsFestival, follow the festival on Twitter @SRQSportsFest.

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