The final curtain

It’s been a good, long 146-year run for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus but all good things must come to an end. The circus announced that this season would be its  last. Big Apple Circus is also packing up the tents.

It seems like Ringling Bros. has been a big part of our lives. The weekend we got engaged we were visiting Heath’s family in Wild Rose, Wisc., and drove up to Baraboo to Circus World Museum and we’ve been there a few times since. Katy’s first trip was at about seven or eight months and she had her first cotton candy.

Program from our first trip
Katy with a clown couple at Circus World.

A few month after getting married we went to the circus here in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. I believe that was the last year of the three-ring format. So it turned into one-third the circus for the same price. Then a few months later they had a new show called Kaleidoscape. This was a small circus in a tent (put up by elephants!) with an audience of only 350. They only did it that one year because it turned out to be too expensive to put on. But I’m glad we had that one chance to go. It was really fun with a lot of audience interaction and a chance to meet all the performers after the show. One of the performer’s we had seen at Circus World and Heath recognized her. He said “We saw you at Circus World” and she said “oh, Baraboo”. Didn’t sound like she was thrilled about being there.

We’ve been a few more times since Katy was born. One year we had tickets but ended up spending the day over at Children’s Healthcare urgent care clinic as Katy was sick. She didn’t know we had circus tickets so we didn’t have to listen to her whine about that. They added shows over at Gwinnet Arena, which was much easier to get to, so we went out there for a couple of shows. Then we kind of slacked off of going for a few years. Katy got a little older and a little busier and we kind of felt like we’d been there, done that.

Our collection of programs

But when we found out this was the last year, we knew we had to go one last time. We weren’t the only ones, either. They ended up adding extra shows and tonight’s seemed to be a sell-out. It was certainly more crowded than it has been in the past.

It was a great show. A few years back they started the all-access pre-show and for an hour before the show starts you can go down on the floor and get photos and autographs, try on costumes and see some performers up close.

The first few years not many people knew about it so it wasn’t too crowded. After word got around, it got packed and this year they decided to take up a bunch of floor space with a bouncy castle. We got an autograph and photo and decided that was enough.

Some of the all-access crowd
A clown, a carrot and Katy in 2007
And 10 years later.

The big news this year is the circus has its first (and only as it turns out) female ringmaster. I’d read an interview with her in the AJC. They had an open casting call (that really surprised me) and she decided to go for it. Her name is Kristen Michelle Wilson. I never really could get a good photo when she was facing us. Heath thought her little platform looked like a Dalek from Dr. Who. It kind of did.


A new addition in recent years are the camels. They were pretty cool.

The tiger tamer was really good. His daughter was helping outside the cage and he pointed  her out saying “if any of you young men want to meet her, see me. We’ll talk in the tiger cage”.

That’s his daughter in the corner, there.

He introduced this tiger and I’ve forgotten the name but he said he and the tiger have been working together for 12 years.


I was also surprised to see that the “human cannon ball” was a woman. Nitro Nicole. The whole time all I could think of was “Hugo the Human Cannon Ball”. You can look that up on YouTube.

A parkour team was a new addition this year. They were very good.


The dog act was all poodles this year. They were cute.



The aerial act was mermaids. I thought they were pretty.

And there were the trapeze artists and BMX bikes and clowns and, well, this guy.

Chick-fil-A was a sponsor so we had to get the obligatory cow picture.

And there was souvenir shopping. I wanted something that had the number of the season so you would know it was from the last season but they didn’t have anything like that. So I got a camel.

Katy was impressed with the pegacorn in a purse but decided on a woolly mammoth. I  have no idea why. Since it’s the last season they cleaned out the attic and Heath got a Kalaidoscape mug.


There’s nothing like knowing the circus is over and it’s time to get back to the real world but it’s really different when you realize it’s the last circus ever.

The end.


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