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Circus History, Circus Performers and Owners

History of American Circuses, Circus Performers, Owners and Sideshows

Preserving the history of the American circus,
it's people, stories and traditions.

American Circuses
American Circuses
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Famous Circus Performers
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Circus Life
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Circus and carnival lingo and slang
"Circus Lingo and Slang"
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Circus Movies
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.Circus Train Wrecks
Circus Train Wrecks


When patrons go to a circus they come away with visions of performers, spangles, spotlights, and the smell of popcorn, but there is much more to a circus. There are people. People from many backgrounds, nations, religions, and customs. We are a multi-cultural society all working together to put on a circus performance.

Think about the many skills necessary to move a circus. It takes managers, performers, musicians, concessionaires, mechanics, electricians, welders, wardrobe makers, cooks and the list goes on and on.

This web site is intended to be about Circus People, the people that for many generations have made the circus an American tradition. The individuals and families who have devoted their lives to the circus.

On this site we will attempt to introduce you to these people. You will learn about the acts they did, the circuses and sideshows they operated, the triumphs they achieved and the hardships and tragedy they endured.


Circus Trivia, Did You Know? Watch for the "Did You Know", icon in this site
where you will find circus trivia and information.

Click to enlarge When exploring this site, click on the "magnifying glass", icon to view a larger version of photos where available.



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Circus News

From Around the World

Grenade explodes at peruvian circus, 11 wounded.

Associated Press
July 22, 2015

LIMA, Peru – Peruvian authorities say someone exploded a grenade at a circus performance and the blast wounded 11 people, including clowns and members of the public.

Local police chief Salvador Iglesias of the San Juan de Lurigancho district of Lima says police are investigating whether extortionists were behind Tuesday night's attack.

Firefighters say most of the injured had shrapnel wounds in their legs, while four suffered hearing problems and a circus worker was hospitalized with a stomach wound.

Police say they are trying to determine whether the grenade was thrown or planted previously.

Elephant Escapes Circus, Kills Man Taking Morning Walk

Saturday June 13, 2015, Buchen Germany
A man taking his morning stroll was killed by an elephant that had escaped from a nearby circus, police said Saturday. The 65-year-old man was walking in the woods near Buchen, southwest Germany, when the elephant attacked, said a police official. The animal was returned to the circus. Police are investigating whether someone let it out of its enclosure. - AP

Dolly Jacobs to Receive the Prestigious
2015 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship

Wednesday June 10, 2015
From the WWSB ABC 7
Sarasota, FL--"I was speechless, it almost sounded like the Publisher's Clearinghouse calling me."

This was after circus performer Dolly Jacobs, also known as "Queen of the Air", received a call notifying her that she was one of nine artists selected to receive the prestigious 2015 national endowment of the arts fellowship, considered the nation's highest honor in folk and traditional arts, she said,

"You're with all different types of folk artists, whether it be musicians or handcraft or woodwork.

An award she says she is extremely proud of. "It's incredible and a great honor and I'm really moved by it."

The award comes with a $25,000, which will officially be presented on October 1st during a ceremony at the Library of Congress in the nation's capital. Jacobs says a portion of the award will go to the circus conservatory to help the next generation carry on the circus legacy.

"they say the greatest gift in life is knowledge and that is what we are doing....passing down the knowledge."

And according to Dolly, in addition to the greats who paved the way in the past, she's not the only one who should get recognition for this award.

"We have 18 full-time employees that are just incredible employees that also give their heart and soul and believe 110% in what we are doing."

Performer Falls in Houston

Circus performer falls in Houston, Texas
Click to enlarge

Sunday May 31, 2015
From KTRK-TV Houston, TX.

HOUSTON (KTRK) Reported by John Fenoglio
Dramatic video shows a circus acrobat falling into the seating area during a local performance in Houston.

It's amazing that she wasn't injured seriously given the way she fell. She is expected to be OK. You could see in the video that she completely tumbled into the audience as she was trying to execute the high wire act.

This is Circo de Hermanos Vasquez. It's a travelling circus and an official says that danger is all part of the show.

"It was a human error. These things happen at the circus. We all put all of our work in here. It's a performance. It's a live performance and that is what a lot of people don't understand," said GM of Circo Hermanos Vazquez, Lorena Vignaud. "Like balancing acts, like the strong men acts, all those kinds of acts they all have a risk. This act was one of the ones that was the highest risk of them all."

Danger is just part of doing business when you work for a circus. We watched one of the shows Sunday and it was amazing, but the acts do appear to be dangerous.

Voters Reject Bylaw Outlawing Circus

Associated Press May 06, 2015

The show will go on in Dalton (Massachusetts). Town meeting voters in the Berkshire County town on Monday rejected a bylaw that would have ended the decades-long tradition of annual visits by the Kelly Miller Circus, or similar shows featuring exotic animals. The Berkshire Eagle reported that voters rejected the circus ban 184-92. The proposed bylaw stated that ''no living nondomesticated animal shall be displayed for public entertainment or amusement in circuses, carnivals, traveling events, or other similar entities.'' A group called Berkshire Voters for Animals proposed the bylaw. The Dalton Lion's Club has raised tens of thousands of dollars by sponsoring the circus since 1994.

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U.S.P.S Releases Circus Poster Stamps

The United States Postal Service is once again paying tribute to the American Circus.

On May 5, 2014 the new stamps were release at a ceremony held at the The Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota Florida.

Available for a limited time from your local Post Office or online at

United States Postal Service Commemorative Circus Poster Stamps
Click to enlarge
Click To Enlarge!



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