Along the Baraboo River the Ringling Brothers of circus fame organized their Greatest Show on Earth in the late 19th Century. Winters found the Ringlings organizing, scheduling their performances and rail transportation, hiring the best new circus talent, repairing circus tents and costumes, housing and feeding great circus animals, and creating new displays and acts to amaze the public on their upcoming tours. At Circus World in Baraboo more than 10 original buildings that housed the Ringling Bros. Circus are listed on the Register of National Historic Landmarks. Circus World Museum was started 60 years ago to preserve and present the history of the Ringling Brothers and circuses everywhere.
“Ladies and Gentleman, Children of All Ages” will be thrilled to tour and experience the history of entertainment prior to video games and smart phone apps. The Steam Calliope calls out to all come to Circus World and enjoy the excitement and thrills. In the summer, circus acts, animal acts, and magicians perform under the Big Top. Music and activities for children are also scheduled daily. A great collection of Circus Wagons, most of them already lovingly restored, are available to be viewed as well as an educational tour daily of these colorful wheeled works of art that have come from all corners or the world. Historic and interactive circus exhibits are found in the visitor center and several buildings.
Many special events are scheduled for weekends in the summer. My favorite is equine weekend where horses load and unload wagons on railroad flatcars, pull wagons, and go on a mini-parade. A Salute to Veterans is held on or about Flag day in mid-June. Veterans and their families are honored with free admission and special events. Other special events include Circus of Chefs – a culinary celebration, and Circus model builders displays of their coveted miniature and to-scale circuses.
The Wisconsin Historical Society owns Circus World and its collections, which are independently managed by the not-for-profit Circus World Museum Foundation. On the grounds of Circus WorldMuseum is a library and research center which documents and preserves the American circus throughout the history of the USA through today. Those interested in research related to Circuses, Wild West Shows and Carnivals can also access an online library catalog.
Circus World is located at 550 Water St., Baraboo, WI 53913 The Circus World website can be accessed for more information. When visiting Circus World Museum and the Baraboo area, you can also explore many attractions like the Al Ringling Theater, the Wisconsin Dells, and Devils Lake State Park.