It sounds almost too cliché to be true, but Logan Jacot really is the boy who left home to join the circus. Now a BGSU junior, Jacot received his high school education while on the road with a traveling circus, through his school district’s online degree program and intermittently attending classes back at home in New Philadelphia, Ohio, when the circus was not traveling.
“At some point, I decided I didn’t want to just be in a circus, I wanted to own a circus,” he said. Jacot chose BGSU in part for its arts management minor degree, which will help give him the business skills he will need. He may be BGSU’s only student who is also a contortionist, fire eater and can walk on glass, a skill he learned from “Crystal,” a performer who is 27 inches tall and bills herself as the world’s shortest woman.
Now, BGSU’s Stuart R. Givens fellowship has provided him a way to combine his love of the circus and his entrepreneurial spirit with his education. The fellowship offers students the money and time to explore learning outside the classroom in an experience of their own design.
He has used the fellowship money to help purchase equipment and a “museum-style sideshow from a run-down circus in California, with shrunken heads and the like,” he said. “When I was 16 and 17, I worked in the last surviving sideshow in the world, where I met my best friend, a guy who has no arms or legs but plays the bass guitar with his feet. I wanted a live show like that.”
That sideshow is but one of three ventures Jacot has created. The others are a reptile adventure show and a small circus show. All three will be going up next summer. From working with circus animals from tigers to Capuchin monkeys to camels, he developed an interest in conservation and wants his circus to have an environmental theme, which has led to his major in environmental policy and the circus’s name: Circus Vera.
Jacot has a way of engaging others in his passion and bringing them into his shows. For the reptile show, he has gotten help from biologist Dr. Eileen Underwood, BGSU’s resident herpetologist, and now has an apartment full of reptiles. In return, he works in her lab 14 hours a week.
As a freshman living in the Arts Village residential learning community, he taught circus arts to other students and they gave seven Circus Vera performances from May 20-Aug. 14 last summer. “It was very successful,” he said.
Between his schoolwork, caring for the reptiles and planning the shows, “I don’t have a life, but I love every minute of it,” he said. He has connected with other circus buffs such as Dr. Montana Miller, popular culture, a former aerialist.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college, and I wasn’t sure I could do it,” he said. “The trip here from Indiana was much more terrifying to me than stepping into the cage of tigers the first time, but it’s been great. Everywhere I look, I’ve gotten a lot of help. I’ve found great friends who are really supportive.”