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From the Vault

By Staff | Dec 18, 2015

July 30, 1980.

Most Rugby residents were fast asleep Sunday morning, July 27, when the Carson and Barnes circus arrived at the Pierce County Fairgrounds to prepare for two five-ring performances here.

Circus owner D.R. Miller was one of the first people to arrive at the fairgrounds. He directed traffic, making order of the pandemonium of the 46 trucks and trailers loaded with equipment and animals and 26 motor homes and camping trailers.

Within two or three hours, the more than 225 people associated with the circus had erected the 360 by 150 foot tent and equipment used for performances.

Outside, elephants – all 26 of them – were unloaded and tied before feeding and watering began around 9:30 a.m.

By 10 a.m. the circus, and a small midway which travels with it, appeared to be a small city. The hustling and bustling required to erect the show slowed temporarily until about an hour before the first afternoon show.

The efficiency of the set-up operation demonstrated the “business” aspect of the circus. And a big business it is.

Carson and Barnes, Ted Bowman said, was in Rugby after appearances in New Rockford Saturday and Bismarck Friday. Prior to that, the show had appeared in Wahpeton, Fargo and Jamestown on its North Dakota tour.

On Monday the show traveled to Devils Lake, Grafton and Grand Forks and on into Minnesota.

By the first week in August, the show will be in Chicago for a 10-day engagement.

The cost of moving the tons of equipment and animals needed by the circus is phenomenal.

“It costs us about $10,000 per day just to break even,” Bowman said, “How long we’ll be able to continue operating as we have is the question”.

– The circus: It’s an elephant-sized business to manage. Written by the Tribune Staff.

– Retyped by Piper Laughridge, Tribune Intern

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