Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants walk from the trainyard to their winter quarters in Venice in 1991.

"In 1959, Ringling Bros. started wintering in Venice, Florida.When in 1990 the Venice rail tracks could not support the show's train cars, the combined circus moved its winter base to the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. In 1993, the clown college was moved from the Venice Arena to Baraboo, Wisconsin.  (Source – Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a defunct United States traveling circus company billed, as The Greatest Show on Earth. The circus, known as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, was started in 1919 when the Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, a circus created by P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, was merged with the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows. The Ringling brothers had purchased Barnum & Bailey Ltd. following Bailey's death in 1906, but ran the circuses separately until they were merged in 1919.

On July 16, 1956, at the Heidelberg Race Track in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the circus ended its season early, with President John Ringling North announcing that it would no longer exhibit under their own portable "big top" tents and starting in 1957 would exhibit in permanent venues, such as sports stadiums and arenas that had the seating already in place. In 1967, Irvin Feld and his brother Israel, along with Houston Judge Roy Hofheinz bought the circus from the Ringling family. In 1971, the Felds and Hofheinz sold the circus to Mattel, buying it back from the toy company in 1982. Since the death of Irvin Feld in 1984, the circus has been a part of Feld Entertainment, an international entertainment firm headed by Kenneth Feld, with its headquarters in Ellenton, Florida.

The show traditionally began with the ringmaster singing the national anthem.

With weakening attendance and high operating costs, the circus closed on May 21, 2017 after 146 years.   (VERY SIMILAR TO KMI'S HISTORY!)

(Source – Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show highlights!

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Across the Circus bridge in Venice - 1989

The interior of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus sleeper railroad car
 restored by the Venice Historical Society includes displays that highlight the relationship between the circus and Venice.
MIKE LANG / HERALD-TRIBUNE, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

1966 Program

Legendary animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams leads the elephants
from with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train in Venice,
in this undated Herald-Tribune photo from the early 1980s.

From 1960 to 1992, Venice was the winter quarters of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Practices, rehearsals, and the final virtually-a-show dress rehearsals were held in the Venice Arena, a huge, rambling barn-like structure off Field Avenue East and Airport Avenue East that stood near Circus Bridge, the southern drawbridge on Venice Island.

Dress performances were held every year in this 5000-seat arena, a favorite annual event for locals and tourists alilke.

Trapeze training poles are still visible in this 2008 photo.

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