Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Miniature Circus is Phenomenal

This miniature circus is housed in a building on the grounds of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus Museum in Sarasota, Florida, where my husband and I visited on Monday.

A philanthropist by the name of Howard Tibbals created this over a period of 50 years. It is a 3/4 -inch-to-the-foot scale and occupies 3,800 s.f.. There are 8 main tents, 152 wagons, 1,300 performers and workers, over 800 animals and a 59 foot train.

When you first enter the building there is a long hallway and on either side is a long train, complete with tracks, back buildings of a town, railway workers, and animals being off-loaded. Unfortunately I did not get pictures of this as I was under the impression photography was forbidden, however I do have many photos of the actual circus city set up. You can click on each one for a larger view if you want. Some of them may be a bit blurry, but I chose to share them anyway.

The above picture shows the start of a town with it's depot, cars and people all coming in for the circus.

This is a scene of the unloading and counting of all the produce used by the performers during their one day stay. Someone would go ahead of the circus train to prepare the town for their arrival and to make sure there would be enough food to feed the army of workers.

Cooks setting up tables and unloading supplies.

Workers and performers lounging the day of the circus.

A closeup of the decorated horses and the wonderful wheeled carriage they are pulling.

Visiting one another and having a bit of fun.

This scene is amazing to me. Each performer has his/her own "area" to get ready. Look at the detail in this one. I wish this weren't so blurry. I definitely need a better camera.
Another view just before the big night.

The townspeople would walk the Midway on their way to the "Big Top" and would be able to see a side show for a few cents more. These included the Bearded Lady, Tom Thumb, the World's Largest Man ,and of course, the "Fat Lady," to name a few.

This one speaks for itself.

A bit of an overview. You can see most of the tent tops in this one.

I couldn't pass up taking a photo of the cages for the various animals. They are so ornate and colorful. You can see the camels and zebras in the background.

This is a closeup of 2 reindeer that they kept for their Christmas shows to pull Santa's sleigh.

This looks just like a real live shot of a circus with all the wiring, cables and such that would be used to generate all the electricity used.

This is the center ring where the lions and tigers are performing. See the clowns in the foreground putting on a skit.

You get a shot of some of the aerialist here. They were actually moving in circles like they would do in real life. Look at all the the people in the stands along with balloons, cotton candy and drinks. Not one detail unattended.

Closeup of the tigers and lions.

Behind the scenes.

Stacks of hay for the animals along with sacks of grain.

The train depot and cars of the 1920's.

A view of the train at night. You can see the individual pillows in each pull-down bed in this photo. The lights on the entire display would go out about every 15 minutes and you could view the scene as though it were at night with the various lights in the tents and along the wagons. This was taken during that time.

One of the elephants close up. Even the texture of their skin looks real.
I have to say I have never seen anything like this before and it will be a trip I won't soon forget. If you ever find yourself in the Sarasota area, be sure to take the time to see this unbelievable miniature replica of the most famous circus of our times.
Even though I am not old enough to have ever attended an actual traveling circus such as this depicts, I love the nostalgia of the days gone by. This was truly "The Greatest Show on Earth".

My next post will have pictures of the mansion where John and Mabel lived during their stay in Sarasota. It was during the "Gilded Age" so everything was very ornate and some would say overdone. I will also show some of the gorgeous grounds surrounding this estate as it is a sight in itself.


Living said...

Such a strange scale to pick!

Anonymous said...

I am certainly enjoying my tour. Your pictures are wonderful and your comments make everthing come to life. I don't think I would have noticed half the things you have shown if I had been there myself.