The Circus Comes to Town!

“Hold your horses, the elephants are coming to town!” “Come see the greatest show on Earth!” It was the sounds young and old alike waited to hear in towns all across the country as the circus crier walked ahead of the circus parade.  You could feel the excitement building as others followed the parade exhorting the onlookers to “Follow the parade to the show grounds.” The Greatest Show on Earth! The Circus! Circus World Museum has an amazing collection of restored circus wagons, costumes, clowns, music and history! You can almost feel what it must have been like to have the circus roll into town! Exciting! A very interesting and fun museum! Circus shows during the summer that aren’t to be missed!

Circus World Museum is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, because Baraboo was home to the Ringling Brothers. It was from Baraboo in 1884 that the Ringling Brothers Circus began their first tour as a circus.

The circus wagons with intricately carved designs, brightly painted and loaded with circus performers created quite a visually striking performance as the parade rolled through town. The Circus Museum has a huge collection of the most amazing circus wagons and they have been restored beautifully! There is even a building dedicated to how the wagons are restored.


In 1918 the Ringling Brothers Circus combined with the Barnum and Bailey Circus, which the Ringling Brothers had bought out in 1908.

Rail cars hauled 100’s of circus wagons, animal cars, tents and costumes along with all the circus people into towns across the country. It was quite the spectacle when they pulled into the station!

What is a circus without Clowns? Lou Jacbos of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus was the most famous clown face of all. It is the face we most associate with the way a clown should look. He set the standard. Happy the Clown was another favorite in the circus world.

Every clown had a car that he would stuff all his clown buddies into. Something was always going wrong with the car or to the clowns in it! Remember the clown being shot from the cannon? Well here it is!

 Patriotic and highly carved gilded wagons! The display of circus wagons seems to never end. Each one is more awesome than the last.

Costumes! Boxes and boxes of costumes were needed to outfit the circus in all the many themes for each show! Each box was labeled with the costume theme name. In 1879 August Reinking opened a dry goods and women’s apparel shop in Baraboo, Wisconsin. In 1901 the Ringling Brothers leased the rooms above the store to serve as the costume department. Reinking ordered boxcars loaded with satin and velvet fabrics, along with sequins and spangles to be made into costumes for the circus. Reinking order so much from Marshall-Fields in Chicago that they called him thinking it must be a mistake. To this he replied, “It is most definitely true! I am purchasing fabrics for the costume department of The Worlds Greatest Shows!”

Stars Stripes

Who knew when Stars and Stripes Forever was played, it was a signal of disaster and a cry for help at the circus?

Under the Big Top was more show than most people would ever see in a lifetime! It was an era before TV, computers and iPhones! It was real entertainment! You could see it, smell it, hear it and feel it!come-to-the-circus

Come one, come all to see the greatest show ever conceived! Whether you can remember going to the circus as a child or you long for a bygone era of clowns, elephants and brightly costumed performers flying through the air with the greatest of ease, you will find it all at the World Circus Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin! You won’t be disappointed!

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