Our Circus Legacy


In years past, the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus used the land where Glen Oaks is located today for their Winter Quarters. The historical marker shown below is installed on the Beneva Road entrance island to Glen Oaks Estates.  "Just east of this marker was the Winter Quarters of the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus, a favorite winter attraction for tourists. Occupying what was previously the County Fair Grounds, the show spread over many acres with its "Big Top" menageries, practice rings, workshops & railroad yards. The show was a spectacle of lights, sawdust rings, and a music all its own. Here clowns, acrobats, and animal acts trained for the long summer months on the "road." Performers from all over the world entertained children of all ages. "The Ringling Winter Quarters moved from Bridgeport, Conn. in 1927. The circus helped to bring prosperity to a city then experiencing economic hard times. The circus trains leaving each year was an event looked forward to by all. The tragic fire at Hartford, Conn. on July 6th 1944 brought the circus home early that year. Here the big blue tent known as the "Big Top" unfurled its flags in 1951 when Cecil B. DeMille produced his epic movie "The Greatest Show on Earth." Today, Sarasota is still the home of countless circus performers. The Winter Quarters moved from here to Venice, Florida in 1960.

"Sarasota County Historical Commission 1982" 


The old black and white photo shown is a photograph of a photograph, of unknown origin; believed to be circa 1950's. It shows the circus grounds when Beneva Road was a path.