When the Circus Came to Town!

I’m not sure how I missed the memo, but I’m wasting no time in sharing it with YOU. Almost exactly ten years ago, a kind conservator at the Smithsonian named Dawn Rogala put me up in her Washington apartment so that I could attend something down there (I think it may have been Slapsticon, the now defunct annual classic comedy film festival they used to have down there). While I was at her place, she showed me her tremendous, rather involved photographic project she’d undertaken while traveling with numerous American circuses over a period of years (most of the ’90s). I wrote a piece about her project and posted it right here. At the time, she was in a quandry about what to do with the material. Book? Exhibition? Donation to some archive? Well, I just learned what became of it.

I was just on the Circus Historical Society’s web site and saw that, not only was her book When the Circus Came to Town recently published, but in 2021 the CHS bestowed its coveted Stuart Thayer Prize upon it: not too shabby, since they only give one out a year, and sometimes none. (Our friend David Carlyon took home the award in 2016 for his book The Education of a Circus Clown, which we wrote about here. ) As for Dawn’s photos themselves, they were acquired by the Smithsonian in 2017, and that led to the creation of the book; learn about the collection here.

At any rate, I was tickled to learn that Dawn’s circus train had pulled into the station. I really do believe that if you stick with things over the long term, you will be rewarded. Learn more about Dawn’s book (and order one) here.

Care to support the voluminous and variegated work of Travalanche? Please do so by joining our Patreon Posse here. As little as $1 a month gets you all sorts of extra content over and above what we do here, including our Daily Digest; lots of old time movie, radio, TV and record clips; and exclusive audio and video presentations by Your Humble Servant. Hither to the 411.