Venice in Sarasota County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
The Circus in Venice
No longer needing the acreage it had in Sarasota, but still needing a rail connection, RBBB moved the winter quarters to Venice in 1960. The 30-year lease provided that the circus would occupy 15 acres of undeveloped airport property with an option to renew for an additional 20 years. The rent was set at $1000 per year, with adjustments to be based on the federal cost-of-living index. Since the circus no longer performed under the "Big Top," construction soon began on a 55,000 square-foot, 5000 seat arena. Adjacent structures housed staging, costumes and wardrobe space.
On November 29, 1960, a crowd of more than 10,000 greeted The Greatest Show on Earth when it arrived at the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Station for the first time. The Venice High School Band played and Mayor Smythe
Ownership of the RBBB circus changed in 1967 when the Ringlings sold it to Hoffeld Corp., which was owned by Roy Hofheinz and brothers Irvin and Israel Feld. The following year Irvin Feld established Clown College to pass the skills of the clown masters on to the next generations. The faculty included legendary Lou Jacobs, Frosty Little, and Bobby Kaye.
Deteriorating railroad tracks threatened the circus's stay in Venice. In 1992 the Seminole Gulf Railroad announced abandonment of the ten miles of track into Venice and the RBBB closed its winter home in Venice.
Erected by Sarasota County Historical Commission.
Location. 27° 4.835′ N, 82° 25.998′ W. Marker is in Venice, Florida, in Sarasota County. Marker is on Tamiami Trail South (Scenic U.S. 41), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Venice FL 34285, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker 337th Army Air Field Base (approx. half a mile away); Venezia Park (approx. 1.2 miles away); Fred Albee Municipal Airport (approx. 1.3 miles away); Triangle Inn (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Venice-Nokomis Bank (approx. 1.4 miles away); Eagle Point Bell (approx. 1.4 miles away); Colonel George Kumpe Bridge (approx. 1.4 miles away); Venice Railroad and Depot (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Venice.
Regarding The Circus in Venice. The trapeze and buildings are still standing.
Categories. • Entertainment • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 21, 2008, by Julie Szabo of Oldsmar, Florida. This page has been viewed 2,652 times since then and 42 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 21, 2008, by Julie Szabo of Oldsmar, Florida. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.