Times Past: When the circus came to town

  • Charlie Bell, a clown with The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, holds his dog at a circus in Sarasota, Fla. in around 1950. Courtesy photo/Creative Commons


Published: 2/8/2019 3:58:16 PM

As a young child and later a teenager, I eagerly watched the paper and looked for posters all over Franklin County for the news that a circus was coming to town.

I can remember one circus that came to town by train (not tractor trailer), staging a parade that went along Mill Street and up Wisdom Way to the fairgrounds where most all of them were held. Elephants and other animals, a band and clowns all took part.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus never came to Greenfield to my memory, I suspect because of its size, but it did come close by in Springfield.

Most circuses were considered three-ring circuses with an act taking place inside each one. To get a better view, it was best to find a bleacher seat near the middle of the tent, or what we call the 50 yard line in football. Additionally, people couldn’t wait to get inside the side show tents to see whatever unusual offering was hiding inside.

The circus was wholesome family entertainment that is so missed in Greenfield today. The days of traveling circuses are just about over.

In their time, many a person, especially children, enjoyed the time spent at a circus. I, for one, enjoyed every one of them that took place at the fairgrounds in Greenfield. Many of you, as I do, miss them all.

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