A guest post from Sarasota’s beloved artist and historian, now relocated but still in our hearts, Deborah Dart:
It is still difficult for me to grasp the ending of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I lived most of my life in the city that was distinctly shaped by and benefited tremendously from their presence since 1927.
The Greatest Show on Earth ended Sunday May 21, 2017.
John Ringling knew what he was doing when the Florida building bust devastated the city in the 1920’s. Moving his circus winter headquarters to Sarasota brought visitors and business to the city while much of the state continued to struggle through heavily depressed times. With the winter quarters established in Sarasota it wasn’t long before every travel guide linked the city to the circus.
In the 1950’s entertainment attractions began popping up throughout Florida drawing visitors away from Sarasota and Ringling’s winter quarters circus performances. A grand metal entrance sign was erected to provide more visibility for attracting tourists to the quarters on what is today’s Beneva Road just north of Fruitville Road.
The circus became a favorite subject for me to paint and has given me some outstanding commissions from Feld Entertainment and The World Circus Federation. There are dozens of other circuses performing world wide but none will ever seem quite as great to me as the Greatest Show on Earth.
You can visit my website to view more of my circus pieces and landscapes of Sarasota – www.dagdart.com
Stay safe and well!