Essex — As kids and parents poured out of the Valley Railroad Circus Train Saturday, they were greeted by "El maestro," a clown clad in red sequined black pants, rainbow suspenders and a rubber chicken named "Giovanni" stuck in his pocket.
"El maestro," or Kenneth Lundquist, blew enormous bubbles toward the kids as they drew near.
"Can I try?" said Tristan Beauregard, 2, of Enfield.
Amazing," said his brother, Gavin Beauregard, 6.
The brothers, along with their sister and grandparents, rode the Valley Railroad Circus Train for the first time on Saturday along with roughly 1,000 other visitors. Valley Railroad, which also operates the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, was having its third circus train event in which guests pay $20 a person for a 7-minute train ride to a carnival and circus show.
The rides, petting zoo, circus, Punch and Judy puppet comedy show and clown entertainment are all included in the price.
Lynda Hayward, of South Windsor, who was with her 18-month-old daughter, said the event is great for little kids. They can walk around because it's a smaller event and the food is reasonably priced, she said.
On the train ride over to the carnival and circus tent, Tristan and Gavin looked nervously out the open windows.
"We are moving fast," Tristan said.
"If we fell out that would be bad," Gavin said.
Gavin's attention turned when ringmaster and company president, Robert Bell, walked into the train car in his red coat and black-and-red top hat.
"You know what this car is — this is the clown car!" he shouted and taught everyone the clown shout and wave.
Staff handed out red clown noses for the kids that some adults stole and wore themselves.
After being transformed into clowns, guests were welcomed to the carnival by clowns blowing bubbles, a clown on stilts and a clown known as "La La" who periodically played a ukulele to a camel.
La La, or Anastasia Lepore, said the camel loves music and sometimes dances to it.
Many of the children said they were most excited to see the petting zoo, which housed a camel, a "zedonk" — a cross between a zebra and an equine — sheep, pygmy goats and mini mules. Kids also jumped at the chance to ride a race car carousel and watch performances at the circus tent.
At the tent there was a classic clown with oversized shoes, a floppy hat and a broom who also rode around on a broken bicycle. Other entertainment included a woman performing acrobatics with aerial silk who was hanging from the tent's ceiling.
It's a "one-tent circus, very authentic and old-fashioned," said Stefanie Pacheco of Putnam County, N.Y., who came with her husband and two sons, ages 4 and 7.
Tristan, Gavin and their family also attended the circus show or "Big Top Show," which ran several times throughout the day.
As one of the performers juggled flaming batons, Jay Arnone, Tristan's grandmother, leaned over and said, "Don't ever do that, right."
The circus train will run again today and next weekend.