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home : our community : more town news
December 1, 2021

10/14/2021 5:00:00 PM
Crestwood Circus Ranch
Lesie welcomes visitors to the saloon.
Lesie welcomes visitors to the saloon.
Dave Diedrick and Leslie Pines, owners of Crestwood Circus Ranch
Dave Diedrick and Leslie Pines, owners of Crestwood Circus Ranch

Circus and Western combine to create a unique Englewood Ranch
If you noted the venue for this year’s Manasota Mystique, the Englewood Chamber of Commerce’s signature fundraising event held on October 2nd, you may have asked yourself where is Crestwood Circus Ranch and what is it?
For owners Dave Diedrick and Leslie Pines, their 15-acre property on Crestwood Road in Englewood is the manifestation of their life-long dream. Crestwood Circus Ranch is an animal sanctuary for retired and no longer wanted animals - you will find emus, Japanese Silkie chickens, a steer, a mini-donkey, horses, rabbits, a llama, goats, pigs, peacocks, African Sulcata tortoises, Peking ducks, and of course, a few dogs and cats in mouse training.
Some of these animals perform in their Old Tyme Traveling Menagerie, an animal troupe that visits residents in assisted living and nursing homes. The troupe members currently are Annie the llama, goats, bunnies, chicken, a mini-horse, and Alfredo the rooster. To many people, some of these represent the animals of their youth and their performances bring a smile and laugh to all who encounter them.
Crestwood Circus Ranch is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit charity whose purpose is to care for these rescue animals, and, in return, the animals generate awe and joy for all ages. A large majority of the animals could be viewed as pets, thanks to the love and time spent with them by Dave and Leslie. Leslie spends time educating herself on how to help each animal thrive; for example, young chicks are placed with surrogate mothers, Japanese Silkie chickens, when needed. The animals learn to be comfortable around humans and view them as friends and food sources.
The theme for the ranch is Western – there is an outside performing stage for entertainment, a saloon that houses a bar and arcade games, animal pens reflect a western theme like the cat house, and there is a gazebo tree where Leslie is displaying her growing orchid collection by attaching them to the tree. Most of the structures Dave built.
Leslie grew up in the circus world as her mother worked as a choreographer for the Ringling Brothers Circus. Leslie learned circus act skills and left home at age 15 to join the circus as a juggler and a unicycle rider. Over her circus career, she performed as a showgirl at Circus World, and an aerialist at Busch Gardens and Las Vegas. She and her two children, Lianna and Miles, performed an acrobatic act as “The Ashton Family”. She perpetuates the circus tradition by teaching the circus arts to children.
Dave traveled the show circuit as well, but in the horse circuit category, with his daughter Lauren, who started riding at age eight and went on to show and win with her horse, Valentine, for almost 20 years. Valentine now enjoys her retirement years at the ranch. Dave and Leslie co-own and operate Scotty’s Pub in North Port and as well as D&D Arcade Amusements. D&D’s pool tables, video slots, jukeboxes and the like are found in clubs, bars and amusements throughout the area.
Crestwood Circus Ranch is their “baby” along with all the animals they care for. The ranch is operated solely with donations and grants to provide care and a home for the rescued animals. They operate this animal sanctuary out of love, and to give children and seniors, the opportunity to encounter and experience animals they may only have read about. School group visits are welcome and the ranch can be a unique setting for fundraising events (like Manasota Mystique), small weddings, and private parties. Students may volunteer here for their Community Service hours.
What’s next on the horizon for Dave and Leslie? They would like to provide an opportunity for interested children to learn and develop the circus arts, dance and acrobatics skills. After school and summer camp programs are in the development stage for youth in the Englewood and North Port areas.
To learn more about this hidden animal sanctuary ranch, or to set up a visit by the Old Tyme Traveling Menagerie, reach out by email to Leslie at dancerleslie69@yahoo.com or call 623-2029.

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