Inside the Mind of Isadora

Here Come the Circus


Ringling -HISTORICCIRCUSMUSEUM Say the word circus to someone who loves the circus and you’ll see a face full of joy.

Who loves the circus?

Anyone who watched the circus animals coming off of the long train of big box cars when it arrived in your town.

Anyone who who experienced the smell, the sights, the sounds of the big top as a child.

If you experienced this excitement when you were growing up you might enjoy visiting the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum of Sarasota, Florida. The shooting of the movie ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ was filmed at this museum.

It’s the biggest circus museum containing documents, artifacts and memorabilia that preserves the celebration of the circus.

The circus is coming – The circus is coming …

That was the cry of the barker who was sent in advance to your town. The anticipation of the circus arriving was rooted in you by posters pasted on the walls of every blank concrete space available.

What child wouldn’t be dreaming of the parade of animals that, in a matter of days, would be coming down their main street of town?

Yes, that’s what the circus did.

 The circus was originally started in Baraboo, Wisconsin by five of the seven Ringling Brothers in 1884. Later, in 1948, it moved to its’ permanent home in Sarasota, Florida.

Newspaper Sarasota Herald

The long box car train would pull into the outskirts of town; then, the unloading would begin. It was a massive undertaking they made look easy.

There were a great many tents that had to be raised.

There was the costume tent. This is where all of the costumes were sewn, repaired and laundered.

The mess hall tent was where everyone ate their three meals a day except for the star performers who had their own tents with kitchens.

Of course, there was the animal tents where the variety of animals were housed.

The tent for the sideshows of oddities was another.

The last one was the big top where the circus loving patrons sat in awe of the entertainment.

Before the grand opening day, there was the pièce de résistance. The parade of elephants. The sparkling colorful costumed riders would shine in the bright sun.

A zoo was unheard of in many towns, the circus was an opportunity for children to see animals up close. Oh, how the faces of children would be overcome with excitement. Their voices would squeal as the parade of animals came down Main Street.

The circus is a magical world filled with acrobats, mind-boggling feats, horses dancing and being ridden, high wire acts, tight rope walkers, trapeze acts, musicians and clowns. Sequins glittering under the lights along with dangerously wild performances right in front of you could make it easy to be hypnotized.

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Now, September 2011, enter the “Circus Museums Tibbals” learning center where the largest miniature circus called the “Harold Bros. Circus Model” is housed. An odd name considering it’s the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum but copyright issues prevent the use of that name. Harold Tibbel philanthropist and miniature expert created the replica of the circus life. It will be on exhibit ate the Ringling Museum, indefinitely.

It has taken Harold Tibbel 50 years to painstakingly create these miniature masterpieces. His thoughts are that, “There is still a great many portions that have to be completed”. His avocation to this project is commendable.

The massive undertaking to preserve a piece of Americana is his passion.

The show must go on a well-known phrase in show business was voiced quite often when injuries occurred at the circus. It was common for these constant travelers.

Costume - Ring Master Despite how they felt physically, when the Ringmaster took center stage and announced, “Ladies and Gentleman and children of all ages …” everyone was quiet and all eyes were on the stage for “The Greatest Show on Earth” that was about to begin.

When visiting the Sarasota, Florida area be sure to add this Ringling Circus Museum to your must do list. You won’t be disappointed.

2015©written by isadoradelavega

Greatest Show on Earth - movie poster

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Author: Inside the Mind of Isadora

Intriguing, sensitive, mysterious, loving, artistic and crackling with excitement for life is a pretty good description of who I am. I just retired from the world of art where I sold my Artfully Designed Handmade Jewelry for 28 years; although, art will always be a part of who I am no matter what venue I choose to express it in.

15 thoughts on “Here Come the Circus

  1. I loved to get boxes of Barnum’s animal crackers when I was a kid, full of circus animals — so fun. 🙂


  2. Oh, how I loved working the Ringling circus. When we got paid we got checks with all kinds of circus acts and animals on them. My wife always felt it was such a shame to cash such a pretty check. Great circus! And then the Feld Brothers bought it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your interesting information and for talking about your days when you worked for Ringling. I’m thrilled to know this and you. 😃 I can just imagine how beautiful those checks were. I wonder if collectors have some. It would be a collectable, for sure. But, who knows those things, when you need the cash to live on. We saw the clown – Emmet Kelly – on one of our visits to the museum. We go to this museum often because it’s Ringings home and art museum too. 😄
      I appreciate your taking the time to visit, read and comment on my blog.
      p.s. Have you ever been to the museum in Sarasota?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Emmet Kelly! I am so proud that I operated the spotlight on Kelly’s famous routine of sweeping the spotlight on the floor, smaller and smaller and have it disappear into the dust pan. Mrs. Kelly was the voice on the headset that talked me into exactly how to do it. What a great performer.!!!


  3. There was always great excitement when the circus came to town in England. I loved to see the trapeze artists, and the magic tricks. I didn’t like the clowns though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s been a long time since I visited Sarasota, so thanks for the museum tip. This post got me thinking. I grew up in a small town in rural Ohio. I recall a small circus coming to town during my youth, so I wonder if those small circuses exist today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there is a one ring circus that resides outside of Sarasota in Bradenton, Florida. They travel more and do a show here once in a while. My granddaughter worked as a receptionist two years ago and received complimentary tickets for the grandkids and us to go. I can’t recall the name through.
      I think the days of the old fashioned circus with live animal acts has gone into the history books to time. Animal rights activists and development may have been the cause or time just marches on and change happens. They’re nice memories and one that can be told to grandkids. Cirque de Soleil is the replacement and they do a pretty good job. 😃
      When visiting Sarasota, I can give you a great many places to visit … but … the beach is the best place. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  5. In the village I once lived a circus use to set up on the local green every summer… very enjoyable until society said it was not a good thing.. then circus’ stopped using animals,, no one ever said what happened to these animals… I used to enjoy them…. now Cirque du Solei…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know what happened to the animals. It doesn’t say at the museum.
      For years, when the circus performers weren’t needed they vacationed for months in a town called Venice just outside of Sarasota. They had high wires put up for practicing. You could see midgets/little people in food markets and in town. They’re gone now but the high wire remains.
      Recently, one of the Wallenda’s (a well-known high wire performing family) had an event in Sarasota. As you can see they enjoy the circus even if it isn’t the old circus.
      I think Cirque du Solei is much more about acrobatic feats. But, just my opinion. I’ve seen them a great many times but the circus feeling isn’t there.
      Thanks for posting your very informative comment, Gerry. Your visits are always graciously appreciated. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never been to a circus!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There was nothing like it. A wonderfully exciting event for children and adults.
      Two years ago my granddaughter worked as a secretary for a one ring circus (sometimes there were three separate rings of acts going on at the same time) but it was very, very small and wasn’t as grand. 😳
      The Ringling is just a museum. You can get the feel of the history but none of the excitement.
      I hope you get to see one someday. 😀


  7. I used to love reading stories about circus families and kids that grew up in this kind of life. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I liked to read about the circus and the adventures they had. It sounded exciting. Lots of kids always wanted to run away and join the circus. They didn’t know what was involved or they wouldn’t have thought it was so good. To me, going to the circus was like going to Disney World today. A very special treat. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

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