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Circus History


The HANNEFORD FAMILY CIRCUS is a one hour show (approx.) that features elephants, a tiger, a dog (or three on occasion), sometimes horses, and, usually, people performers doing all kinds of acrobatic, aerial, comedy, and other circus type acts. The show is permanently based at the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, Florida, U.S.A., and performs inside the main building most days of the week - year round (times, and the number of shows per day, vary according to the season).
     As strange as it may seem, especially in this age of mass communication, television, videos, movies, and the like, we still get people who are not sure what a circus is; amazing considering that this form of mass entertainment has been with us since the 18th century. Anyhow, for those who have never seen a circus, it is a variety show, usually performed in a central "ring" (up to five with Carson & Barnes Circus) instead of a stage, but instead of singers, comedians, bands, and the like, it features jugglers, trapeze, and other aerial artists, clowns, acrobats, etc., and, in the more traditional shows, trained animals - the favorite being elephants.
     Circus performers are noted not only for their derring do but also for their colorful and sparkling costumes. The circus is not noted for its orderliness - more a case of organized chaos with the large shows - but this is part of the fun. The traditional circus was always performed under canvas which added to the overall "circus" atmosphere for the audience but was hell on the performers, especially on really wet days - hence the name, "mud shows" within the community. The tents were a necessary part of the show's portability, solving a problem of finding suitable auditoriums in small towns, but they created a huge logistical nightmare of setting up and tearing down (small shows require everyone to "pitch" in regardless of their individual "star" status within the show).
     Today most circuses work inside buildings, even traveling shows, as most towns have some kind of arena sized auditorium. The Hanneford Family Circus was originally a tent show but now has the luxury of working in an air conditioned building with no need to break down and pack up every couple of days. It allows our performers to concentrate on their act and give you, the audience, a better performance. It also allows us to use more effective sound and lighting equipment to make your circus experience far more in keeping with today's technology.
     However, we still try to present a show that is traditional in its overall feel - we only use one ring, for instance, in keeping with the original English origins. We have cotton candy and popcorn "butchers" selling in the seating areas (along with souvenirs), and the music we use is a blend of old and new - featuring the most famous piece of music ever played in a circus, "The Entry Of The Gladiators", during our Junior Circus Parade; YOUR kids dressing up and participating in a recreation of the old fashioned parade.
     Our show is not large, it's not as extravagant as many, but it's a fun way to spend an hour with, or even without, your children, and, best of all, it's basically free. You only pay if you want to get a good seat (even then it's extremely cheap by today's standards). Our acts change now and then so you can return time and time again.
     We are very proud of our show and what we have contributed to our community over the last ten years (soon to be eleven). It is the one form of entertainment where you can bring the entire family and not have to worry about undue sex and violence yet be thoroughly entertained. We hope you come to visit us one day but if you can't get here you can always watch it live on the internet (almost like T.V. if you have DSL) - yet another first for the Hanneford Family.