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High flying . Circus performer Visan Espana practises on the wheel of death as the Weber Bros big top goes up in the background at Awamoa Park. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

The circus has come to town.

It’s been a long time – almost 10 years – but the Weber Bros international circus has again set up camp in Oamaru.

Sited at Awamoa Park for the rest of the week, the 38m-diameter big top tent went up on Tuesday without a hitch.

Weber Bros Entertainment manager Nicole Webb said the circus was pleased to be back in Oamaru after such a long break.

“We have been working overseas on the international circuit for the past eight years,

“Last year, we were in South Korea, Australia and South Africa. Now we are back in the South Island of New Zealand and this is our fifth stop on the tour.”

Offering a new adrenaline-based production, the two-hour show offers a wheel of death, freestyle motocross, a globe of death, a human cannonball and lots of comedy.

Ms Webb said the 800-seat big top took a couple of days to go up, then the 40 staff were busy rehearsing, training and arranging sound and lights.

Joining the circus from South Africa is Mexican motorcycle stuntman Visan Espana, a fourth-generation circus performer.

His family are trapeze artists, and he moved over to motorcycle and extreme wheel swings during his teens when he started lifting weights.

“Getting bigger and heavier ruins it for you as a trapeze artist, plus the dedication to the lifestyle didn’t suit, but you never get the circus out of your blood,” he said.

“So I developed the motocross trick riding because I loved bikes.”

Espana’s daily routine involves honing his riding skills and keeping his edge when it comes to climbing out on the wheel of death and putting on the blindfold.

“It always makes the crowd sit up and watch when I put it on up there,” he said.

His cousin, Martin, works the other end of the spinning wheel while he runs, jumps and flies through the air as the wheel spins high above the crowd.

Espana’s father and brother run a show in Texas, while an uncle has a trapeze school in New York.

But for Espana, there was no question about coming to New Zealand for this tour.

“I love brewing beer and this is the perfect place to meet fellow brewers and learn about how they do it.”

He owns a micro-brewery in Texas that is circus themed and hosts little shows to entertain patrons.