P.T. Barnum once said, “Nothing draws a crowd quite like a crowd.”

Sadly, the circus can no longer draw a crowd. On Saturday night, Feld Entertainment announced that the famed Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Circus would shutter forever in May. And while this is a merely drop in the bucket of things truly affecting our nation, it still broke me a little in a very unexpected way.

This company provided employment for hundreds of specialty acts, technicians, musicians, clowns,  stunt performers and designers (and more) and this was their passion. They’ve lost more than their employment, they have lost their entire way of life. Some of you will say, “well, they can just find another job,” but that’s not an easy task in show business. If you aren’t in the throws of it, there is no way for you to understand the severity of the situation. This business isn’t kind to anyone; it is a mind numbing, soul sucking adventure and nothing is ever easy.

On the other side of the ring, think of the generations who will never get a chance experience this. The circus was always important to me and I certainly feel like I’ve lost something. It is a one of a kind event and it cannot be replaced by a smart phone or iPad; it needs to be experienced live. I’m thankful my daughter was able to see the circus once before it shuttered and I’m thankful to have those “first time-with-Harper-experiencing-the-circus” memories to hold on to. There was always a magic in seeing something like this live. There was nothing like it.

This is truly the end of an era.


After thought:

As many of you find yourself celebrating this victory for the animals, please remember the circus was much than a form of, as I’ve seen in several articles, “animal torture.” I use quotes because after doing some research these animals were loved and care for immensely while on the road. That being said, I understand the concerns and certainly do not support cruelty and extreme captivity but I urge you to see that this “WIN” comes with some major losses.


Tristan Layne Tapscott has been dubbed the “Quad Cities’ P.T. Barnum” and although the person who initially said it meant it as an insult, he happily accepts the title.