5th Annual

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mark Your Calendars!
Parade Day Countdown

American Steam Calliope Wagon

If you’re looking for a cornucopia of colossal fun, then mark your calendars now for the 5th Annual Baraboo’s Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration on Saturday, July 22, 2017 in Downtown Baraboo.

The two-day celebration will commemorate Baraboo’s stupendous circus heritage as the historic home of the world-famous Ringling Bros. Circus. The weekend will be brimming with concerts, children’s activities, a classic car show, an antique and artisan fair and more.

The “center ring of entertainment,” however, is the Big Top Parade, which will step off at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, featuring over 75 traditional circus parade units and circus-theme entries created by community groups and businesses.

In addition to the many special activities scheduled throughout the weekend around downtown Baraboo’s historic courthouse square, you’ll want to make time for the shows, tours, displays and concerts at Baraboo’s renowned circus attractions, including Circus World, the International Clown Hall of Fame & Research Center, Al. Ringling Theatre, Al. Ringling Mansion and Ringling House Bed & Breakfast.

Spend the weekend enjoying all that Baraboo has to offer in the city that Smithsonian Magazine named the 4th Best Small Town to Visit in 2013.

Keep checking back to this site for more information about the 4th Annual Baraboo’s Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration and “Follow Us” on social media!

Circus History

So what makes Baraboo’s circus heritage so special as to warrant a day-long celebration and parade? The city has the distinction of being the current-day home of Circus World, the International Clown Hall of Fame & Research Center, the Al. Ringling Theatre and the Al. Ringling Mansion. Baraboo is also the historic home to numerous circuses, including the world-renowned Ringling Bros. Circus whose owners were the celebrated kings of the circus world.

Ringling Bros. Circus

On May 19, 1884, Al., Alf T., Otto, Charles and John Ringling produced their first circus performance in Baraboo. The show’s winter quarters were located along the Baraboo River from 1884 to 1918. As the Ringlings’ fame and fortune grew, so did their stature and reputation in the show world. In 1907, the powerful Ringling Bros. World’s Greatest Shows bought its major competitor, the Barnum & Bailey Circus – The Greatest Show on Earth.

In 1919, the Ringling brothers merged the two gargantuan shows to become the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows – The Greatest Show on Earth. Living up to the posters that bore their names and mustachioed likenesses, the Ringling brothers were indeed Kings of the Circus World.

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The Kings of the Circus World

Ringling Brother Circus Elephants c1980 in Baraboo, WI

Gollmar Bros. Circus

Like their cousins the Ringlings, the Gollmar brothers operated a circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin at the turn of the last century. The Gollmar Bros. Greatest of American Shows operated out of winter quarters on Baraboo’s Second Avenue from 1891 until 1916, with brothers Walter, Fred, Charles, Ben and Jake Gollmar as proprietors. The 4th Annual Baraboo’s Big Top Parade & Circus Celebrates the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Gollmar Bros. Circus. Poster images courtesy of Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Parades are no stranger to Baraboo, Wisconsin where a century ago, the world-famous Ringling Bros. Circus and Gollmar Bros. Circus paraded their wagons throughout the downtown. This downtown Baraboo scene of a Gollmar Bros. Circus parade, circa 1907, passed the same Third Street landmarks that the Baraboo Big Top Parade will pass on July 23, 2016. The Gollmar brothers always staged a street parade in Baraboo before going on tour. They made sure that the route passed by their parents’ house on Second Avenue and Birch Street. Photo courtesy of Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Gollmar Bros. Vintage Circus Street Parade

Gollmar Bros. Circus Poster

Moeller Bros. – Henry and Corwin Moeller, first cousins to the Ringling and Gollmar brothers, played a role in the success of Baraboo’s circuses and others operated elsewhere by leading showmen. Operators of a blacksmith shop and wagon manufactory still standing on Third Avenue in Baraboo, the Moellers built many of the elaborate circus parade, cage and baggage wagons for the Ringlings’ show, including the Ringling Bros. Bell Wagon of 1892. They also fabricated and repaired wagons for several other circuses through 1928.

Other Circuses with Baraboo roots include John Robinson’s Circus (1898), Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Enormous United Shows (1910-1911), Hodgini Bros. Combined Railroad Shows (1915), Fun on the Farm Circus (1924), and Wilbur W. Deppe’s Classic Country Circus (1961-1966).

Circus World Museum

Circus World – Owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society and operated by the not-for-profit Circus World Museum Foundation, Circus World is located at 550 Water Street in Baraboo. Since its opening on July 1, 1959, Circus World has been located at the original winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. Circus (1884-1918). Circus World preserves an unparalleled collection of circus artifacts and archival items, including circus wagons and vehicles, posters, business records, manuscripts, programs, hand bills, journals, oil paintings, photographs and negatives that document circuses from Wisconsin and around the world. During its summer live performance season, Circus World presents many entertaining, family-friendly shows daily, including live Big Top Circus Performances. For more information, call toll-free 1-866-693-1500 or visit circusworldbaraboo.org.

More Baraboo Circus History Info

Share the fun!

Share your Big Top Parade & Circus Celebration photos and memories using the hashtag: #bigtopparade





Size: S-3XL

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Limited Quantities Available At:

Baraboo Area
Chamber of Commerce*

*Cash Only

Commemorative T-Shirt

Baraboo’s Big Top Parade was broadcast live locally on retro-TV Channel 43 (Baraboo area Charter cable channel 10) and WRPQ Radio 99.7FM/740AM.



Don’t miss a moment – catch the replay of the Big Top Circus Parade 2016 on YouTube. Click the image to watch.

parade live stream on youtube

DVDs of the parade telecast will be available by contacting WRPQ at (608) 356-3974 or visiting WRPQ.com

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2016 Circus Parade Sponsors
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