Sarasota: The Sunny Town That No Longer Has a Circus

CircaWanderlust, Circa Wanderlust, Circus Museum, The Ringling, John Ringling, Ringling Estate, Sarasota, Ringling Circus, Circus Mural

Ask any Sarasotan about Siesta Key and they will quickly tell you two things: how far away you currently are from there and that it is the #1 beach in the country. I’ve been living in Sarasota for over 16 years now. In those 16 years, the Key has been a constant for entertainment, beach going, and drinks with friends.Sarasota has been a go to destination for Northern visitors since its founding. With John Ringling at the forefront of the City’s establishment it is bittersweet to hear that the circus is calling it quits after over a 100 years.

Sarasota will always be home to the Circus

No matter where you stand on the animal welfare issues or feel that the circus hasn’t been able to keep up with technology and the times, one thing is true of every Sarasota resident: We will always be home to the circus! Sarasota is already home to the Circus Museum at The Ringling  and the organization in charge of the estate has already vowed to work with Feld Entertainment to preserve as much of the history as they can.

I have never been to the circus, though I’ve been to The Ringling numerous times and been to the Circus Museum. But I never went to the circus, even as a child. I can see how declining attendance over the years has impacted Sarasota’s iconic legacy. It seems everyday I met someone who has ties to Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey! Even on the day of the announcement, I learned that a college friend’s parents were circus folk.

Many say the animal welfare groups are to blame for the circus’ decline, since after they retired their fleet of elephants Feld says they didn’t anticipate such rapid decline in attendance. But if Cirque du Soleil teaches us anything it is that animals are not needed to have a successful show. Perhaps the touring costs are more likely the culprit or a production that didn’t seem to advance into the 21st century. Either way, the circus’ legacy and home will be preserved in Sarasota through the countless stories of individuals who lived the circus life and the marks it left on our community.

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