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Sunday, January 6, 2013


When Circuses Came
to Honeoye Falls

by Paul S. Worboys
Reprinted from The Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel of
August 22, 1991.
PART II
Mammoth Menagerie!
Gigantic Circus!
It Is Coming!
Five Times Greater Than Ever!
Wait For It!
Boasting a magnificent (their words) morning pageant, followed by afternoon and evening performances, there was a Great Golden Menagerie, Museum, Aquarium, Aviary, Caravan and Circus." Equestrians, tumblers, gymnasts and acrobats supplemented "Madame Maynard: the Woman of the Iron Jaw" and the "Goddess of Liberty."
Fearing inclement weather, the populace awoke to a cloudless autumn sky, gathered in a variety of conveyances around the Four Corners and watched Amburgh's arrival. The Times critiqued the show in reserved terms, saying it was "…of about the same calibre witnessed many times before." Its one distinction was for its departure in those rough-and-ready days of a century ago:
The circus left as it came, peaceably, and of the brawls which usually occur on such occasions, we are happy to state we have none to report.
A decade passed before Honeoye Falls received another traveling show. On May 17, 1893, despite rain and mud, "CHARLES LEE'S GREAT LONDON CIRCUS" gave two performances before overflow audiences. There was the standard buildup of newspaper ads with embellished promises ("We Never Indulge in Bombastic Challenges"), and a letter to the editor (unsigned) entitled "Hurrah for the Circus."
It was "…the largest 25 cent show in existence," highlighted by the "Dazzling Egyption Mennon Throne of Music," "Professor Wack's London Military Band" and the "Masques of the Komical Ku Klux." And, according to the aforementioned letter:
…Mr. Lee has a knack to suiting the public taste better than the overgrown monopolies of the Barnum and Forepaugh stripe. He always has something new and fresh.
Touche Barnum & Bailey, even then "The Greatest Show on Earth." One only wished such claims were true. For openers, the Times quiped: "The grand and gorgeous street parade was almost a yard long and a small boy pronounced it a fizzle."
Lee's show had few redeeming qualities and several poor ones. The managers were gentlemanly, but the crew was a tough lot of foragers, and the ring performances were mediocre. Barnum had nothing to fear and, preached the local Times, "…the people would lose nothing if ten years elapse before another such a rank show comes this way." Fortunately, the very next year Honeoye Falls and environs had its faith restored in the traveling circus—and how!
The Crooked Lake Review Blog is a local history blog for the Genesee, Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario regions of New York State.
read more at:
http://www.crookedlakereview.com/articles/67_100/76july1994/76worboys.html
 

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