Friday, September 19, 2008

Circus Wagons in Lake Geneva

I mentioned earlier in the week that part of Wrigley Drive in Lake Geneva was being closed off this week, and a selection of antique circus wagons from Baraboo's Circus World Museum was being set up for viewing this weekend.  Our local newspaper published an article by Kayla Bunge, and that's were I got the information about these particular wagons.  Because there hasn't been a circus parade in five years, the only way people can see these wagons is to travel to Baraboo.  However Lake Geneva philanthropist Richard Dreihaus arranged for this rare showing for the people of Lake Geneva.  There are about twenty wagons in Lake Geneva through this weekend, and a much larger collection in Baraboo.

This "America" wagon is actually a steam calliope, originally built in 1903 as a telescoping tableau.  It has beautifully cared and painted portraits of people from North and South America.  I liked the contrasting portraits of the man from the East with a bowler hat, and the Indian with the war bonnet on opposite sides of the wagon.  The wagon was reconfigured in 1917 as a bandwagon and to haul luggage.  In 1940 the wagon was reworked once more and refitted as a calliope.

I'm not sure about what this "Asia" tableau from 1917-18 was designed to do, perhaps haul luggage, but it makes a good companion piece to the America wagon with 16 busts featuring people of various Asian countries.  I believe originally there was also an Africa and Europe tableau wagon.

This Gaviolo organ bandwagon was playing when I took this photo. It was built in the early 1900s and is described as replicating the sound of an 80-piece band, and animated figures play instruments and dance while it plays.

I love this colorful charging tiger  ticket wagon from the Arthur Brothers circus. I didn't take notes on what year it was built.

The United States Tableau wagon was built in Ohio in 1903.  It is intended to show The United States rise as a world power.  Notice the Goddess of Liberty in the center, flanked by carvings of Native Americans.  It is all hand carved and beautifully restored.  Originally costumed riders traveled on top for parades for both Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circuses. 

In the past few years I've read a few books with circus themes, so I went to my Shelfari page and looked them up.  If you are not a person who is horrified by clowns, you might be interested in checking out one of these titles.

Like Water for Elephants, by Sarah Gruen
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn
Circus Fire, by Stewart O'Nan (the only nonfiction book on the list)
The Circus in Winter, by Cathy Day
The Master Butcher's Singing Club, by Louise Erdrich

1 comment:

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