Markers: Sarasota History
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 it's "Big Top", menageries, practice rings, workshops and railroad yards. The show was a spectacle of lights, sawdust rings and 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 6, 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.
Dedicated in 1982 by the Sarasota County Historical Commission