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The Not So Long Trailer Goes to Florida - Part 5

The John & Mabel Ringling (of Ringling Brothers Circus fame) estate in Sarasota, FL, or as it is now known, The Ringling, has several wonderful facets to it, and we spent most of a day discovering some of what this property has to offer. For those that don’t know, I am a huge fan of the circus, especially those that once traveled with a massive “big top” tent. The passion that these performers have for their craft is immeasurably. I think that is one of the reasons I find the circus so fascinating. The life of a circus performer is gritty and tough. It is not for the faint of heart. In addition to having a unique talent, you have to truly love what you do. I love watching the old movies about circus life and will watch any and all documentaries about the circus or sideshows.

The Ringling has a five different parts to the property: The Museum of Art, the Circus Museum, the Asolo Theatre, the Bayfront Gardens and Ca’ D’zan (the Ringling’s mansion). You truly need an entire day or more to see everything, especially if you are seeing a performance at the Asolo, like we did. (This summer, The Ringling’s Summer Circus Spectacular 2023, featuring circus performers from around the world, runs thru August 12.)

The Circus Museum was the main focus for our visit, so we spent a good portion of our time there. One massive display that is within the Circus Museum is Howard Tibbal’s “World’s Largest Miniature Circus”. This 3,800 sq ft display is a lifelong work of it’s creator, who spent 50 years painstakingly creating and detailing every aspect of the touring Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus from the 1920s and 1930s. The display is enormous! Mr Tibbals handcrafted nearly 1 million pieces to make up his miniature circus, including 1500 performers, 152 wagons, 7000 folding chairs for spectators, and dishes and tableware to serve 900 people. It truly was his life’s work. (He passed away last March at 85.)

Next up for us on this Florida excursion? We do a little Disney antique shopping and the spend some time at Florida’s Sunken Gardens!

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