Tuesday, June 02, 2009

State Fair of Texas Circus

Bandwagon, Vol. 6, No. 5 (Sep-Oct), 1962, p. 19.
For the third straight year, the Gil Gray International three-ring circus will be an important feature of the 77-year-old State Fair of Texas, the nation's largest annual exposition in terms of attendance. The 1962 schedule will run October 6 through 21.

This year, the Gil Gray Circus will be in the spotlight in two free shows - on Wednesday, October 10 and Thursday, October 11. The performances, open to the public without charge, will be held in the Cotton Bowl (75,504 capacity).

Three rings, two stages and a wild animal arena will be set up in the Cotton Bowl. Gil Gray's staff for the event includes Max Craig, general superintendent; Cleo Plunkett, ringmaster and announcer; and Raymondo Aguilar, band director.

After the opening parade, the lineup of performers will be: Hoover's lions and tigers; the Montons, aerial; Golden Kids, monocycle; Dwight Moore's dogs; Flying Johnsons, flying act; Carlyles, teeterboard; Wongs, aero contortion; elephants; Allen's bears; Peterson's leopards; ponies, llamas, zebus; aerial spec; Joanides, slack and juggling; Kinko, midget car and clowns; three rings of rolling globes and juggling; and in clown alley, Randow and Simmons, Billy Burke, Larry Cross and the Wilson troupe.

Participation of the Gil Gray Circus at the State Fair of Texas began in 1960. That year, the Fair observed its Diamond Jubilee anniversary and inaugurated a nightly parade around the fairgrounds.

The event, held at twilight each evening, was called the Torchlight Parade and the Gil Gray Circus - which winters in Dallas - contributed a calliope and live animals to the parade lineup.

In 1961, the popular nightly parade was continued. The State Fair's theme that year - Exposition of Music - dictated the title of the illuminated spectacle: the Torchlight Parade of Music. Gray's participation in this parade mushroomed to eight units: floats, animals and again the calliope.

Also in 1961, for the first time, the State Fair produced a Circus Night in the Cotton Bowl, which drew some 15,000 spectators.

In 1962, the circus plays its most important part yet in the Fair. In addition to the Cotton Bowl performances, Gray will contribute at least 12 units to the annual opening day parade downtown, including floats, clowns, carrying pieces and animals.

The same units will appear nightly in the dazzling Torchlight Parade of Nations, around the fairgrounds.

Of special interest to parade spec - A miniature replica of Ringling Bros, tators will be Gil Gray's bell wagon, famous wheeled carillon, the wagon was built at considerable expense and includes a restored Uniphone to provide bell-like music.

Also, throughout the Fair, Gray's floats and menagerie will be on display daily at "Circusland," a new State Fair feature for 1962. The free exhibit will probably be the largest collection of circusana ever assembled in the Southwest. It will include displays from the Hertzberg Collection in San Antonio, Tex., and the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis., plus paintings, miniature replicas and historic relics of bygone circus days.