On January 14, 2017, Feld Entertainment Inc., parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® and the world’s largest producer of live family entertainment based in Palmetto, Florida, just 45 minutes north of the hotel, announced that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® would hold its final performances later this year.
The Feld announcement was met with surprise and disappointment for circus enthusiasts as we learned that the iconic 146-year-old circus Ringling Bros.®’ two circus units will conclude their tours with their final shows in Providence, R.I., on May 7, and Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017.
However, no matter the future of this operation, the Sarasota area will celebrate the circus and our community’s circus heritage FOREVER. Whether you want to learn more about the wonder of circus’ early days, experience miraculous modern-day performances or wonder at death-defying acts on the wire, Sarasota will always be ready to share the rich legacy of the circus as well as a variety of performances with residents and visitors.
Ringling Museum – The circus’ astonishing legacy will live on through the many lives it has touched and at The Ringling Museum! This impressive multi-facueted facility invites “Ladies and Gentlemen” to step right up and discover the rich history, fun and fanfare of the American circus. Also tour John and Mable Ringling’s 56-room mansion on Sarasota Bay, the Ca d’Zan, which stands as a testament to the American dream of the Roaring Twenties. Of course, the property also includes 31 galleries filled with treasures: old masters, contemporary art and exhibitions from around the world, at the Museum of Art as well as the Historic Asolo Theater. Click here to learn more about The Ringling.
The Circus Arts Conservatory – Known as the “Circus Capital of the World,” Sarasota, Florida, claims Circus Sarasota as its own resident hometown circus. The Circus Arts Conservatory annual professional performances, showcased in a one-ring, five-star, European-style big top, have been acclaimed around the globe for world-class artistry and entertainment. Committed to raising the perception of the circus as the valuable art form it represents, The Circus Arts Conservatory is also much more than a traditional circus. Approximately 80% of ticket revenue to help support its community outreach programs that serve children, the elderly and those in care facilities. The year-round outreach programs Humor Therapy Program, Education Program and Sailor Circus Academy contribute important outcomes in our community. This program remains equally important to Circus Sarasota to preserve Sarasota’s unique circus legacy through education, human service and the performing arts. Through its many program offerings, The Circus Arts Conservatory advances the extraordinary legacy and heritage of the circus. Click here to learn more about The Circus Arts Conservatory. We hope you’ll be able to enjoy a performance during your visit at the Comfort Suites Sarasota!
Nik Wallenda – Over the past few years, a modern-day daredevil followed in his family’s multi-generational legacy on the high wire as Nik Wallenda amazed us all with his jaw-dropping walks across the wire, broadcasted across the country. Click here to learn more about Nik Wallenda and his drive to “Never Give Up.”
There are also a few lesser known local spots for “circus folks” and those who are fascinated by their trade and profession in Sarasota:
Bob’s Train – Perhaps one of Sarasota’s best-kept secrets, this restaurant located within John and Mable Ringling’s private railroad car is hidden away, just outside of the downtown Sarasota area. Click here for details about Bob’s Train.
The Showfolks Of Sarasota – This unique clubhouse and its grounds were built in the early 1960s, when Sarasota’s Desoto Acres was home to many of the greatest circus performers of our time. In fact, we understand the neighborhood was zoned “Circus” and allowed residents to keep elephants, horses and other exotic livestock on their properties! Residents have included many famous families including the Wallendas, Fornasaris, Concellos, Dubskys and Bertinis among others. Today, while there are far fewer circus performers living in this area, you may still find the occasional flying trapeze rigging on property. Click here for more details about “Show Folks.”
In Sarasota, we’ll always remember the circus as “The Greatest Show On Earth,” and we can’t wait to host visitors interested in learning more about its amazing history. In Sarasota, the show will indeed go on!