End of the Circus

I’ve seen Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus a number of times, but not in recent years — and that of course is the problem.  The 146 year old traveling show is coming to an end, done in by flagging ticket sales. Attendance dropped off even more after the show ended the elephant acts, prodded by PETA who called it cruel and unusual to make these dignified animals dance.


The idea of a traveling circus — even without the old fashioned canvas tent, which was where the show started — is certainly quaint. At one point, having the circus come to America’s small towns was one of the biggest events all year. Now, via the internet, all forms of entertainment are available to anyone with a computer or hand-held device all the time.

About 400 people will lose their jobs, which is a drop in the bucket nationally — although not for the families for whom traveling with the circus has been a way of life. The animals will have to be farmed out somewhere. The circus acts will no doubt fade into history — there’s no market for them any more. The side shows went by the boards years ago; it’s been a long time since people paid to see the bearded lady, or the Siamese twins, or the sword swallower or what we used to call midgets.

I remember seeing the circus live, but I doubt Sara and Matt do, even though they went as kids. I’d be shocked if Matt and Amy made any attempt to take Archie and Else before the lights go dark. There’s a Circus Museum in Sarasota, Florida, and soon enough that’s all that will be left.

6 thoughts on “End of the Circus

  1. So sad! I loved seeing them. I was 43 when I finally got to see them! My kids of course got to go much younger. I was determined to take them, and we went one year on Halloween. They still talk about it. They got their costumes on, did tirck-o-treat there and watched the show. It was def. fun and the next year they asked to do it again. Such a shame!

  2. Very true. We are now near Sarasota for a few weeks. The circus closure is big news here. One executive mentioned two big factors:
    People’s interests are changing and the circus doesn’t draw the crowds it used to.
    Animal rights groups have been active in challenging the treatment of the animals.

    I believe I read the last traveling show event is in May.

  3. for Joyce: The circus museum there is great, if you have an extra few hours with nothing special to do. Blast from the past, as they say. I really enjoyed it.

  4. We have been there and enjoyed it. I don’t know how big it was when you saw it but the property has several buildings as well as the mansion. It’s quite the lay out.

  5. for Joyce: Haven’t been in recent years, but I very much enjoyed what was there when I went. Would love to go again, actually.

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