Top 5 Circus Attractions in Sarasota, Florida

Posted on Jun 4, 2012 in Places | 1 comment

Ever dreamed you could live in a city where you can drive down a street called Ringling Boulevard? Or see a highwire in someone’s backyard, a globe of death in their neighbor’s and down the next street a flying trapeze? Welcome to Sarasota, Florida. – the Circus Capital of the World! It’s no coincidence Sarasota has that nickname as it’s home to many circus performers from around the world including some of the more famous names in circus like Wallenda, Nock, and Zoppe (to name a few). This city doesn’t just have a rich circus heritage, it continues to grow and has many other attractions to offer.  Here are just a few of the attractions you simply must see if you ever find yourself in the Circus Capital of the World.

The Showfolks Club of Sarasota

Showfolk Club of Sarasota

A clown, a ringmaster, and a trapeze artist walk into a bar…

The bartender says, “Welcome to Showfolks“! Conceived in 1964, Showfolks is an exclusive club for circus people by circus people. Anyone from top circus producers to circus enthusiasts are welcome to enjoy it’s comfortable yet fun atmosphere. Adorned with beautifully painted circus murals and photographs of circus performers from all over the world, Showfolks is fully equipped with a bar, lounge area, dance floor, pool tables, and more! It’s quaint setting will make you feel right at home allowing you to enjoy the company of your fellow circus friends. Don’t pass up the opportunity to hang out at a Circus club with real circus stars! The Showfolks Club of Sarasota has become one of the most iconic attractions in the world of circus. For more information, you can visit The Showfolks Club website.

Bob’s Train

Bob's Train is open 11:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Monday - Friday

Bob’s Train is the only circus train in the world owned by an individual and it also happens to be a restaurant! Bob Horne purchased the old train cars that were once owned by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and has renovated them to create a fully functioning restaurant while keeping it’s historical integrity. Bob Horne is well known throughout Sarasota and the circus community for being very knowledgeable, friendly and always willing to share his wealth of circus knowledge to anyone who asks.  He is also currently restoring John & Mable Ringling’s personal train car; a piece of circus history that would otherwise be lost had it not been for his persistence and interest in circus trains. Not only is Bob the owner, he’s also the chef! His food is delicious and his ingenuity in renovating the train cars will cast a spell of unique nostalgic wonder as it takes you to a place in time only found in your dreams or in the movies. For more information check out Bob’s Train blog.

St. Armands Circle

The “Circus Ring of Fame” at St. Armands Circle

You’ve heard of the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, CA.? Well, circus folk have one of their own! It’s called the Circus Ring of Fame and it’s nestled between the boutique stores and restaurants on the beautiful St. Armands Key. The roundabout within St. Armands is where you can find plaques of all of the famous circus stars that have been inducted into the prestigious and historical Circus Ring of Fame. All around the Ring of Fame is an array of unique apparrel stores, fine dining,  art galleries, ice cream shops and nightclubs. All of this is within a short walk from nearby Lido beach. Steeped in circus history, this is one attraction in Sarasota you don’t want to miss! Click Here to learn more about St. Armands’ rich circus history.

Ringling Museum of Art

Circus wagon found on display within the Ringling Circus Museum

This museum not only holds some the world’s most awe-inspiring works of art, it is also home to the first ever circus museum in the United States of America. Established in 1948, the circus museum holds many historical circus artifacts and memorabilia including costumes, wagons, posters, a train car, even a full-size flying trapeze! Plus, you’ll find the world’s largest miniature circus called The Howard Bros. Circus Model that is a ¾-inch-to-the-foot scale replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (c. 1919-1938). If that doesn’t enchant you, take a walk through luscious gardens on the estate grounds and see the beautiful Cà d’Zan that was once the home of John & Mable Ringling. The gift shop alone is worth seeing, filled with unique circus gifts that any circus goer would love! For more information you can visit The Ringling Museum’s Website.

Sailor Circus

Sailor Circus in 2007

Situated by Sarasota High School, Sailor Circus is America’s oldest youth circus known as the Greatest “Little” Show on Earth! Once a high school gymnastics class in 1949, Sailor Circus has grown to a 4 ring youth circus production now ranging from grades 4 – 12. Students practice 20 – 30 hours a week and are trained by volunteer coaches many of whom are retired circus performers. Sailor Circus is a non-profit organization helping youth develop self-discipline and gain confidence while learning through the circus arts. The building’s unique design gives it a circus tent look which adds to it’s charm. Recently renovated, the new building is sure to attract even more attention, making it another one of the most iconic attractions in the world of circus. Catch one of their many performances throughout the year if you can! It’s sure to please any circus enthusiast! For more information, check out Sailor Circus’ website. ■