Saturday, July 19, 2008

....Saturday's Featured Circus....Circus Sarasota....

SARASOTA "Circus Capital of the World"
John Ringling first visited Sarasota in 1909, when this quiet farming and fishing village had a population of just over 800. Realizing the real estate potential of the area, he bought numerous large parcels of land, including St. Armands, Bird Key, the south end of Longboat Key and 66,000 acres along the Myakka River.

In the late 1920's, John was offered 156 acres of land if he would move his circus winter quarters to Sarasota. He recognized the many advantages of relocating, so in November, 1927, the circus train rolled into town as it would do for the next 33 years. Many other circuses followed the Ringlings, and Circus became an integral part of the social and economic life of Sarasota, giving our area its unique identity.

In 1950, Cecil B. DeMille directed The Greatest Show on Earth, a motion picture starring Charlton Heston, James Stewart and Betty Hutton. Much of the film was shot in Sarasota. Many local residents were used as extras, and circus artists advised and helped the stars with their stunts and appeared in the film. Its world premier was at what is now the Sarasota Opera House.

Today, the grand Ringling Winter Quarters is gone. While the area remains home base for many circuses and home to thousands of active and retired circus families, few Circus attractions are open to the public.

After an absence of many years, Sarasota once again has its own resident circus. Founded in 1997, Circus Sarasota is committed to continuing the legacy and broadening the artistic contribution of circus. Circus Sarasota presents exciting professional family entertainment in winter performances under the big-top and special events and classes throughout the year.

Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs have combined their expertise and passion for the circus by creating Circus Sarasota. Their mission is to provide a circus that represents the circus arts at the highest level and that is linked to the community through performance, education and integrated arts programming. They have helped bring the magic of circus to more than 200,000 people.
Their goals include creating a permanent, professional circus school where students will be encouraged to achieve professionalism and excellence in the circus arts while embracing all performing arts.