Carson and Barnes Circus, in the 1960s

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Morning Midway: Baraboo, You're Back On! We Gotta Talk Some More


Where's the good Doc Dewel? And Steve (P.T.) Freese of Circus World? The Chamber of Commerce? Greg DeSantos from clownland?. You are all hereby summoned to my symposium, continued, on how to better market your considerable historical assets.

As you may know, I've made a late-breaking career of ranting on about how your town, Baraboo, should sell itself to the amusement going public as a package of easily linked delights in the most charming of small town atmospheres, rather than a ramp-o-round from one isolated attraction to the next. In a Sunday paper here in the Bay Area, I came across an item that affirms the unsolicited advice I've been tossing your way, that my ranting makes good business sense.

The story is titled "Just the ticket for circus fanatics." Item lists four places to satisfy the urge, including Circus Circus in Vegas (calling it "the obvious choice" because of its inclusion of amusement park rides--keep this rationale in mind); Circus World in your own backyard; your Ringling rivals down there in Sarasota; and that darling of revenue-producing instruction to nowhere for the blase of "The City," as they call it, known as the San Francisco Circus Center, the later likely inserted because it plays to the local audience.

Here's the kicker, the clincher, the test run payoff:

"If you're looking to make a big trip out of this, consider heading to Baraboo, Wis. This is the home of both Circus World and the International Clown Hall of Fame."

Let me repeat in bold: "This is the home of both Circus World and the International Clown Hall of Fame."

Jackpot! Another plus is the position given to your two attractions in the article, two short paragraphs down from the first recommendation, Circus Circus. And, your listing takes up the most space.

Okay, that's only a start. Here's my marching orders: Go back and dig out more of your native treasures. For starters, pull out the Thimble Theatre fun house, get it back in pristine working order, and put out the historical hype it deserves -- a charming gem from an age gone by.

The Al Ringling Opera House. This towering gem must play a starring role in the package. Here's how: Get your local thespians to check their snobbery at the stage door and spread summers of old time vaudeville -- or suitable music theatre, Sugar Babies and the Will Rogers Follies come to mind -- across the magnificent proscenium of this sainted playhouse. Does anybody remember that the Ringling brothers, yes, those boys who grew up in your own shadows, started out giving music hall shows on theater stages? Songs. Dances, Skits. The works.

That's history. That's Ringling. And that's entertainment!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I'm all for any postitive promotion that helps get the word out on what Baraboo has to offer!

Being the newest addition to the already spectacular legacy of circus related sites, we have been very busy since our opening in late May of this year.

We've archived the massive Poodles
Hanneford collection, which includes original wardrobe, props, scrapbooks, contracts, paintings, film & photographs. We also inducted Chester Bobo Barnett into our merry band of fools, complete with his family coming in from all over the country and sharing memories. We currently have his original little clown car on display as well as his wardobe and related artifacts. We also launched the nationwide release of Bonnie Barnett's new book, "Bobo's Daughter".

We have also provided research for the Water for Elephants motion picture, shot an episode of History Channel's "American Pickers", worked with History Detectives on a Ronald McDonald piece, and are currently working with the families of such notable clowns as Slivers Oakly, Happy Kellums, Zapatta, Larry Harmons Bozo the Clown, Paul Jung, Paul Wenzel, Dick Lewis, Felix Adler, and Feld Entertainment to continue to document this incredibly rich history.

This is all done via grants, donations and door admissions.

We are also working to be contributing partner to the community of Baraboo. They have embraced what we are doing and no request has been denied. We have presented remarks at 2 different film series at the Al Ringling Theatre, we have established outreach programs that pair at-risk and special need youth with honor role students to create performance groups that use clown and circus skills to build self esteem and teamwork.

We also are beginning a pilot program to begin to use humor in the assisted living/ senior care facilities in this area.

So it's been a very busy 6 months of projects, plans and continued work to get this built up and bring respect to the art of clowning.

Best-

Greg DeSanto

Showbiz David said...

Go, Baraboo!