DREAMSCAPES Fall/Winter 2017
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CIRCUS IN ITS GENES
 
(2013 - Winter Issue)

Writer: CHELLE KOSTER WALTON



When it comes to pearly white beaches and fanfare shopping and dining, Sarasota County does not clown around.

When it comes to culture, heritage and entertainment? Well, frankly, then it does call in the circus.  

The circus has exerted its Big Top influence on the community since 1927, when the Ringlings moved their winter headquarters to town. John Ringling’s bayside estate most potently remembers the gay, glittery era. Besides his Italian-style Ca’ d’Zan mansion, visitors can explore three-ring bygones at the Circus Museum and its dazzling 353-square-metre miniature version of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Ringling’s European art collection fills a Florentine-inspired museum; roses and tropical vegetation fill the gardens.

Throughout Sarasota County and her islands, John Ringling and his circus left fingerprints: a Circus Ring of Fame at St. Armands Circle shopping arena, an art college bearing his name, the bridge to Lido Key he built using elephants, circus family names such as Wallenda and Rosaire in local directories, a flying trapeze park, and two circuses that still perform. 

The Sailor Circus has been training high school students since 1949 for two annual performances. A couple of circus veterans present the Euro-style Circus Sarasota each February. And every day the circus legacy pops up in street names, art trends and an enduring sense of giddy mirth.

Travel Planner

For information:

Visit Sarasota County: SarasotaGetaways.com

Circus Sarasota: circussarasota.org

Ringling College of Art + Design: ringling.edu

St. Armands Circle: starmandscircleassoc.com

Tito Gaona Flying Trapeze Park: titogaona.com

The Ringling: ringling.org

 
 
 
 
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