What If They Gave A Horse Show And Nobody Came?

The Kantemirov family calls its famous Russian circus, which has toured all over the world for the last 62 years, a "celebration of life and of man's love for horses, demonstrating the harmony between mankind and nature."

So when the troupe needed a city to host its first show in the United States, Houston seemed the obvious choice.

"We think that Texas is horse country. One of the world's capitals," Mairbek Kantemirov, the show's producer, tells Hair Balls. "Because of rodeo and other things, that's why we chose Houston."

The family opened its Artania show in March at Sam Houston Race Park, but trouble is, Houston hasn't seemed to notice.

"I think they were used to these gushing articles being written in every city they went to and they didn't get that here," says John Finlay, president of FMA Consultants, who the Kantemirovs hired last week to promote Artania. "It's kind of hard to start from scratch after six weeks, but that's what we did."

(Some bad weather hasn't helped, either.)

Mairbek has won the Russian National Academy Award, the Attraction of the Year Award in Ontario, Canada, and the International Circus Festival in Rome. During the stint in Canada, the New York Times called the show "one of the top ten attractions in Niagara Falls."

Attendance here has been decent but inconsistent, Finlay says. Also, according to Mairbek, a circus tent in the race track parking lot has been a change of pace.

"To be honest, we had to do this," he says. "We didn't have choice. Traffic and so on, it's a little bit far from town. Now I have my vision of how to work and where circus has to be."

Artania is at Sam Houston until June 14, and even though Mairbek says that was the plan from the beginning, some billboards around town say the show ended last week, and another, along with the show's web site, says it ends on May 10. Finlay says those errors are being fixed.

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