Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Beat of the Big Top: Sarasota Blows Return of Ringling; Kelly-Miller Trumps Mother Nature's Wrath; Circus Report Restores a Nice Friendly Feeling

Sacred dirt: The Sarasota fairgrounds, where the Big Show once winterquarted.

First Draft Reckless, and on with the show!

Here comes Ringling, heading back close to its old winter digs -- could have been Sarasota town, but, no, politics they say derailed a fragile courtship. Show will winter, instead, in nearby Ellenton to the North. And where was sawdust and spangles sugar daddy Howard Tibbals when he and his millions might have intervened? Dogonnit! The Sarasota Herald Tribune story, forwarded to me by Cyber courier Don Covington, is so dense in detail, let me just paste up here its first line: "A sour relationship between Sarasota County officials, particularly former Administrator Jim Ley, and the community's Fair Board ultimately doomed Sarasota's chances of physically reclaiming its circus heritage." My heart screams for justice -- the Big Show back in its own once-celebrated backyard! ... Feld and company will relocate instead onto a former industrial site, and to Florida's new circus town will come the Feld production offices, along with hundreds of employees.

... Three more circus wagons, from somewhere, to Baraboo, and I am too indifferent to dig deeper, other than to note how obsessed the CWM crowd continues to carry on, placing anything that may pass for an old circus wagon over the great, very real and authentic Thimble Theatre fun house, a genuine rarity, that I imagine is rotting away apace and in disgrace in an open shed off limits to patrons. Yes, it belongs to CWM, but it's not a circus wagon, and shame on the poor little carny orphan! ... "We just knew we needed to have these [circus] wagons," said Exec Director Steve Freese, who has, I take it, been properly equipped to channel the spirit of Chappie Fox. Regarding Circus World's insatiable appetite for more wagons, one insider called them "the largest full scale model circus wagon collection in the world," meaning that in some cases, precious few pieces of original wood remain, one of many reasons why Ringlingville got kicked out of the American Association of Museums. OK, out of here, somebody please kick me! ... (Doc Bob Dewel, I expect to hear from you shortly)

At least, over on the fearless Kelly Miller Circus lot, the canvas and the mud are real articles, not synthetic re-constructions, and I had promised to let up on the mudville angle until general manger Jim Royal, these days hiding out in Hugo around desk and PC, noted how mud-free were a few early days in the beginning. Gosh, what troupers they are! [take a look at Steve's blog for a counter to this misreported scenario] And now, weeks later, Sir Royal could not help from sharing (would that be to provoke me, Jim?) the following letter received from a peanut-smitten fan, to wit, in part "I would like to get a bag from your peterson peanuts for the memory book I am doing for my daughter." Oh, what can I guy say to that? ... Maybe some season yet, under ominous skies, I will take up John Ringling North II on his wry invitation for us to crack peanuts together.

Circus Report, I await your next visit! ... My first issue came. I like the way publisher and editor Bill Biggerstaff honors the legacy of CR founder Don Marcks, by using Don's old masthead and sharing name space with Don. I LOVE the routes, Don would be amply impressed, he struggled relentlessly to include as many routes as possible, and I like the quality of the writing. Nice to go home to an old friendship I once enjoyed with Don. And so, 55 minutes later, let's aptly wrap this one up in the pithy prose of the late great CR columnist Billy Barton, who ended his weekly three dot jackpots with ... "See you down the road, luvs...."

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