Come one, come all to witness the whimsical wonder of the Shoestring Circus! Co-owners Nicole Laumb, Justin Therrien, Sadye Osterloh, and Matthew Poki McCorkle are bringing the magic of circus arts under the big top to town. They sat down recently with WhatcomTalk to introduce their exciting new project, which opens May 19th in Bellingham.

An Amazing Team

The four founders created Shoestring Circus in 2022. Each is uniquely talented and the upcoming show will feature their own acts along with a stellar cast of circus artists.

Justin Therrien is Shoestring Circus’s tent boss and has been a performer for over 15 years, marveling audiences with his skills at sword swallowing, juggling, magic, and object manipulation. He has worked for many traveling circuses and performed in theaters, opera houses, and festival stages around the world.

Co-owner Nicole Laumb is head of marketing and an endurance aerialist with an impressive set of skills for sideshow acts. Photo credit: John Cornicello

Nicole Laumb is the marketing director for Shoestring Circus and started her journey into circus arts while working on a farm. “My circus story always starts with the sentence: I was working as a goat farmer,” says Nicole. “I started taking aerial classes as a new hobby and I became hooked on it. I was just in the right place at the right time when a traveling circus was looking for someone to join their crew working aerial in the show, I really ran away with the circus and never looked back.” Nicole performs aerial and variety acts as well as being an emcee and writer.

Site Coordinator Sadye Osterloh is a natural performer. When she caught the bug, she never let go. “I was a little kid putting on talent shows for my family or friends,” she says. “I’ve been performing circus arts for the last 15 to 20 years. I moved out this way about seven years ago and started collaborating with the Bellingham Circus Guild — it’s such an amazing arts community out here.”

Co-owner Matthew Poki McCorkle is a veteran circus performer with a background in engineering and a flare for whimsy. Photo credit: Silje Paul

Sadye’s joyous wonder is a perfect addition to the Shoestring Circus and everything she performs is full of life and clowning. There are many skills in her repertoire, including acrobatics, aerial, emceeing, music, and much more.

Matthew Poki McCorkle is the artistic director for this season’s show and brings many unique skills to the Shoestring stage, adding their extensive experience and skillset to this singular circus after years spent traveling all over the world with a variety of circus companies. “I like to work in a lot of different acts, but recently I’ve been enjoying my swords and wine glass balancing act where I put swords in my mouth and balance wine glasses on top of them,” says Matthew. “I’m really excited to present that this year as part of the Shoestring show.”

Shoestring Circus

Under the big top, Shoestring Circus is an imaginative shoe-themed adventure that involves quite a few different acts. “It’s going to be a step into shoeland,’” Sadye says. People will enjoy a great variety of circus acts. “There’s an aerial rope performance [by] PJ Perry and we have this awesome performer — Stephanie Little Thunder Morphet-Tepp — from Colorado. She’ll be doing hula hooping and hair hang. They have the Guinness World Record for being able to hang from their hair holding the most amount of weight.”

Co-owner Sadye Osterloh is an incredibly talented circus artist and will be running communications for the Shoestring Circus. Photo credit: Jo Arlow

The name “Shoestring” embodies the inspiration and spirit at the center of the circus. “Shoestring Circus encompassed what the four of us have in common,” Nicole says. “The four of us love whimsical feelings inside of a circus tent, something that’s unexpected or something that is playful or absurd. It feels like a good fit for us and it’s fun to say!

Opening night kicks off May 19th under the big top tent next to the waterfront pump track off Granary Avenue. Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for kids 12 and under, and front row seats priced at $45. “We’re going to have cotton candy, popcorn, kombucha, and bananas with googly eyes,” Sadye says. “We’re getting Shoestring shirts and Shoestring socks, as well.”

The circus will bring a unique combination of nostalgia and modern storytelling all rolled into one exciting show.

The four owners purchased the old Flynn Creek Circus tent to create the perfect ambiance for their very own circus. Photo credit: Philip Pavliger

A lot of the scene will feel reminiscent of the circus we all grew up with, especially the tent.” Nicole says. “The show itself is a little more contemporary and our acts are pretty surprising while some are more traditional. We have people with skills I don’t think you’ll see many other places!”

All ages are welcome to witness extraordinary performances from Shoestring’s awe-inspiring circus players, including jugglers, aerialists, illusionists and more! The shows run May 19-21 and May 26-29. Purchase tickets to the upcoming shows in advance at shoestringcircus.com. You can also learn more about the artists and get a peek behind the scenes by following along on Instagram and Facebook.

Featured photos by Philip Pavliger, Michelle Bates, and Silje Paul


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