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A Circus Story

What’s in a theme? We didn’t just pick the circus out of the air, it’s part of our DNA. We’re proud of our history, and we can’t wait to share more stories of our past as part of our beer journey.  

Some excerpts below from “An Abbreviated History of The Circus in America”, by Rodney A. Huey, Ph.D.

1920s America

The Roaring 20s. A time in our country when business was booming, and more Americans were developing a taste for pop culture as a result of access to new technology: film, radio, and records. It may have been Prohibition and Al Capone, but it was also Jazz, Speakeasies, and the Flapper lifestyle. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at bat. F. Scott Fitzgerald writing “The Great Gatsby”. Albert Einstein winning the Nobel Prize. “The greatest thing since sliced bread”? Yes, that was invented in 1928.

The Circus as an Event

It was also the Golden Age of the traveling circus. The day the circus rolled into town became a day of ritualistic activity surrounding the unloading of the train, the circus parade down Main Street, and the setting up of the Big Top tent on an empty lot located on the outskirts of town reserved as circus grounds. Railroad circuses usually played “one-day stands” in up to six towns each week. The day the circus came to town was a holiday, disrupting daily lives, often to the point where stores closed, factories shut down, and school classes were dismissed. Going to the circus in your hometown during its Golden Age would be comparable today to attending the Super Bowl.

A Family Connection

Our family was a part of this Golden Age with the Ringling Brothers. Starting with Great Grandmother Freida, known as Mademoiselle Chloe, as an elephant rider and snake charmer. Great Grandfather Richard Sr. was an advanced ticket seller, keeping one town ahead and promoting the show. Their commitment lasted over twenty years of touring and involved two generations of family.  

They performed with artists that left a legacy on the circus, sharing the same space as Clarence Chesterfield Howerton (“Major Mite”), the smallest man in the world, Felix B. Adler, the King of Clowns, Miss Londy, the Tallest Lady in the World, Miss Mabel Stark and Her Tigers, and Ken Maynard, who after a stint with Ringling Brothers went on to star in movies as the first singing cowboy. It was a job, but it was also a lifestyle. Many of these performers enjoyed a level of celebrity due to the popularity of the circus, at times even visiting the White House. 

Exploring the Past

When we were building the concept of our brewery, we kept returning to our central themes of family and shared experiences. We realized our family’s past was the path to the future, as the Roaring 20’s era of the circus perfectly captured these themes. We wanted to create a comfortable space that evokes awe and amazement with a beer menu built by the community. No scary clowns, no overly bright colors and lights, but a contemporary take on a classic time in America. A century of time may separate the family, but the foundation hasn’t changed. Create entertainment. Wonder. Community.