Very interesting program on the local PBS station KERA called Nowhere but Texas. The opening segment featured a story about the Gainesville Community Circus. “Gainesville Community Circus” The television special opens with the remarkable story of the acclaimed Gainesville Community Circus, an amateur, three-ring circus ““ complete with high-wire acts, clowns and tamed animals. The circus was conceived as a means of paying off the debt of Gainesville”s community theater. Interviews are supplemented with vintage footage featuring amazing performances by some of the nearly 1,500 daring citizens who performed during the more than 25 years the circus operated, and put Gainesville in the national spotlight.
Statistics compiled for the 1953 official program showed that from 1930 to 1952 the circus troupe gave 359 performances in fifty-seven different cities and canceled only one performance, after a tornado destroyed the big top in 1939 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. In the twenty-five years of the circus at least 1,500 Gainesville citizens took part in performances before 500,000 spectators. In 1954, shortly after its twenty-fifth anniversary performance, the circus”s tent and equipment were destroyed by fire. Gainesville citizens gradually rebuilt, occasionally presenting isolated acts until the entire show made a formal comeback in Odessa in 1958. That year, however, saw the organization”s demise. According to former circus president and chief clown Frank E. Schmitz, “Television and air conditioning killed” the circus, which had “just got too big.”
(accessed December 2, 2007).