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In Pictures: Insights into ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ in Sarasota
By Tom Adkinson
May 5, 2023

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SARASOTA, Fla. – Jodie Urias didn’t hesitate for a second when she saw the sign on the wall of the Circus Museum at The Ringling, a multi-faceted collection of attractions in Sarasota. “What pose could you hold on a galloping horse?” the sign asked. Urias and her niece, Starla Schuh, immediately took off their shoes, climbed atop a fiberglass horse and struck a pose. It turned out, Urias is an actual circus performer and has been for decades, so she was totally comfortable “riding” on the horse before heading off into the museum’s eye-popping collection of performers’ wardrobes, props, parade wagons, and all of the paraphernalia that went into production of massive traveling circuses.

It’s just balance, confidence and showmanship

ringling circus museum
Jodie Urias and Starla Schuh comfortably strike a pose on a Circus Museum prop. Urias’s actual circus job is many times bolder. Her family’s act is the Urias Globe of Death, which involves three motorcycles swirling around inside a steel sphere. Image by Tom Adkinson

Get on the bandwagon

historic circus bandwagon
This historic circus bandwagon is one of several massive vehicles at the Circus Museum that show the pageantry of traveling circuses. Image by Tom Adkinson

Even in miniature, the circus is big

ringling circus model recreation
A 44,000-piece model recreation of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus covers 3,800 square feet and is a major component of the Circus Museum. Howard Tibbals built the model and set it in Knoxville, Tenn. It is difficult to imagine, but the real circus as depicted played 150 towns each season, but fewer than 20 stops on the itinerary were for more than one performance. Image by Tom Adkinson

Bruno Zacchini’s Super Repeating Cannon

ringling circus repeating cannnon
It took performers of a certain caliber to be shot from Bruno Zacchini’s Super Repeating Cannon. Image by Tom Adkinson

Setting the tone

ringling circus clown aerialist
A clown aerialist is one of the first displays you see inside the Circus Museum. His message is one of fun: “May all your days be circus days.” Image by Tom Adkinson

Traveling in style

winconsin private pullman railroad car
“The Winconsin, ” a private Pullman railroad car, was home away from home for John and Mable Ringling. Sometimes it was part of the circus train itself. More often, it was attached to regular passenger trains so the Ringlings could conduct business across the U.S. Image by Tom Adkinson

Trip-planning resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on

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