29 August 2014

Run to the Circus

Welcome back. Last month, I accompanied my wife Vicki to a race, a trail run. I’ve come close before--same city--but this was a first. I actually dropped her off at the starting point and picked her up at the ending point, which happened to be the starting point.

I went with her this time because I’m a devoted husband. I felt bad that she would be attending the event without any of her running buddies and that she would have to spend an overnight. That Circus World was nearby hardly entered into my decision.

A view from the half-marathon
trail during the Dances with
Dirt Race near Devil’s Lake,
Wis. (Vicki’s photo)

Anyway, given the choice of a 50 mile, 50 km, marathon, half marathon or 10 km trail run, she chose and completed the half marathon; dodged the morning’s 70% chance of rain; forgot bug spray but was able to use someone else’s; learned to use vanilla to keep the gnats away; took a few photos along the route; and finished long before I returned.

If there’s more you’d like to know about the race, you’ll have to check with Vicki. This blog post is about Circus World.

Circus World

About nine miles northwest of the race starting point is Baraboo, Wisconsin, where the Ringling Brothers began their first circus in 1884 and where they spent the winter months until 1919, when they merged with the Barnum & Bailey Circus and moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The original site was deeded to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1959. The Ringling brothers’ attorney, John Kelley, and members of the Gollmar Family, circus owners and cousins of the Ringling brothers, had incorporated Circus World Museum as a historical and educational facility five years earlier.

Circus World, in Baraboo, Wis., is divided by the Baraboo River. (site map from www.circusworldbaraboo.org)
What began in 1959 with less than an acre of land and six old circus wagons is now 64 acres, 30 permanent structures, 7 historic winter quarters buildings, the Ringling Bros. Circus Train shed complex, the world’s largest collection of authentic circus wagons and the world’s foremost library and research center on circus history.

My Short Visit to Circus World

I could have easily spent a day at Circus World, especially with the tour and shows--including Big Top performances--that complement the exhibits. Given the time Circus World opens, the time Vicki’s race began, her estimated pace and my travel time, I had less than two hours, which I spent walking around and in the Wagon Pavilion. Here’s a sample of what I saw.

Front door of Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wis.
Poster exhibit in Circus World’s main building.
Original historic Ringlingville structures, some with exhibits, near Circus World’s main building.
Costume exhibits in Circus World’s Wardrobe Department structure.
Bridge to Circus World structures, exhibits and activities on the other side of Baraboo River.
A railway car the Ringling Bros. Circus once used for stock when touring from city to city.
Although Circus World offers animal rides, this was just a time for cleaning up. I was concerned when I saw the leaf blower, but it wasn’t too loud, the elephants seemed to enjoy the attention and their response to voice commands showed they weren’t deaf.
Several circus wagons were on display under a roof-only structure. The red Wells Fargo stage coach was built in 1865 and used for circus performances until the 1940s.
Wrap Up

Thanks for stopping by. If you have any interest in old circus wagons, be sure to stop by again next Tuesday. I’ll post photos I took during my visit to Circus Worlds’ Wagon Pavilion.


Information regarding the trail run: danceswithdirt.com/devilslake-home
Circus World’s website: www.circusworldbaraboo.org
Ringling Brothers Circus background:


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