Friday, January 25, 2008

Life is a circus for the Bauers

This week, I met with Joseph Bauer Jr., the new ringmaster of Circus Sarasota, over lunch. He brought along his circus wife, Caroline, and his two-month-old son.

Like many circus performers, the elder Bauer was born into the big top life, receiving the privilege of traveling all over the world.

With such a dashing life, I was amazed to hear Bauer was born and raised in Sarasota. His wife also trains the horses for her act in the area. The couple have a house here. To them, this is home.

But I guess that shouldn't be surprising since Sarasota is considered a circus town. Bauer said the circus world has shaped Sarasota into what it is today. That got me thinking about how life would be different here if John Ringling had never stationed his famous circus in the city during the 1920s.

Circus Sarasota's Web site,, said before the arrival of Ringling Bros. and Barum & Bailey Circus, the area was nothing more than a "quiet farming and fishing village" with a population of more than 800.

Thanks to the Ringling powerhouse, other circuses were drawn to the area. Their arrival beefed up economic activity for Sarasota and the surrounding areas while raising the quality of life.

Today, Circus Sarasota continues to contribute to the community by using its talented artists to educate others in circus arts and providing "therapeutic medicine" by visiting nursing homes and children.

Whether we realize it or not, the circus as a whole has touched us all. —January Holmes

To read about Circus Sarasota's new season, check out next Thursday's Weekend.

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