Thursday, August 13, 2015

WORLD'S GREATEST SHOW

"World's Greatest Show" was the name given to the original Ringling Bros. Circus which began in 1884, in Baraboo, Wisconsin, about an hour north of Madison.  RV and I spent an afternoon at the original location of the Ringling Bros.Circus, which was their winter quarters for 34 years, and is now the home of the Circus World Museum.
Circus World - On The Banks Of The Baraboo River
Baraboo, Wisconsin
In 1907 the name was changed to "The Greatest Show On Earth" when Ringling Bros. absorbed Barnum and Bailey.  Along the banks of the Baraboo River stand the surviving buildings, remnants of an age when the circus was a major form of entertainment in big and small towns and cities across America.  In 1927 John and Charles Ringling moved the winter headquarters to Sarasota, Florida from Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Original Warehouses at Ringling Bros
Baraboo, Wisconsin

Not only are the huge original buildings still standing that were built to house this huge undertaking, but the 220 historic circus wagons are being meticulously maintained and restored inside these buildings.
Circus World - Baraboo, WI
 
Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI

Circus World - Baraboo, WI
The history is being preserved in a grand manner and we were most impressed by the activities and displays of carefully crafted rare collections of circus memorabilia.  As we are originally from Florida I was only familiar with Charles and John Ringling and their contributions to Florida history.  When you are in Baraboo you are aware of all five brothers, Al, A.T., John, Otto, and Charles, (in 1886 Henry Ringling joined and in 1889 Gus Ringling joined) and that all of them were involved in the circus business.  They were all partners in the business and were known to be honest and hardworking.
The Ringling Brothers
Wisconsin has a proud circus heritage.  Approximately 100 circus shows were supported by 32 different communities.  Some cities such as Baraboo, Appleton, and Sheboygan were home to multiple shows.  Delavan, Wisconsin, beat them all by hosting 25 circuses at one time or another!




In 1967, The Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus was purchased by Irvin Feld (who died in 1984), and is now owned and operated by his son, Kenneth.



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