animal trainers and elephants
Animal trainers and elephants practicing their act in Venice circa 1919 (Photo: State Archives of Florida)

The History of the Circus in Sarasota County

Learn how the Greatest Show on Earth helped shape a sleepy fishing village into a cultural destination on Florida's Gulf Coast®

December 31, 2020
Historical marker showing where the circus used to train in venice florida

Sarasota County and the American Clown: A 100-Year Relationship

John Ringling moved the winter quarters of his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from Bridgeport, Conn. to a burgeoning Florida city called Sarasota in 1927. With Ringling’s winter quarters came the trapeze artists, the lion tamers, the tightrope walkers, and—of course—clowns. The circus launched a clown college in the Florida beach destination in 1967, and gave the world a new generation of entertainers.

The Oldest Youth Circus In America Lives In Sarasota

For 70 years, Sarasota's Sailor Circus has thrilled audiences as one of the most unique extracurricular activities for local students in the world. 

st. armands circle

Ring of Fame Honors Circus Greats and Celebrates Sarasota History

In addition to its world-renowned shopping, dining, and beaches, modern St. Armands Circle is home to the Circus Ring of Fame — an iconic park established in 1987 that celebrates circus greats and Sarasota's vibrant history. New inductees are commemorated annually with the addition of bronze circus-wagon wheels — the circus equivalent to a Hollywood Star — along with a biographical plaque to accompany each wheel.

Sarasota County Centennial

Sarasota County is 100 years in the making. Discover the historical tales and how you can celebrate in 2021!