The mystery and wonder of the circus has captivated American audiences for over 200 years. During its heyday, Wisconsin was a mecca for traveling circuses and menageries. It was the birthplace and winter home to over 100 traveling circuses.
The state’s history with the circus started in 1847 when brothers Edmund and Jeremiah Mabie, owners of the U.S. Olympic Circus – then the nation’s largest traveling show – acquired land in Delavan, Wisconsin. The land, which is now Lake Lawn Resort, became the Mabie’s headquarters. It provided everything they required – abundant pastureland and fresh water for the horses and other circus animals, plus an ideal central staging spot for the winter season.
\The Mabie Brothers Circus started 24 years before P.T. Barnum’s circus organized in the town of Delavan, but ended when founder Jeremiah Mabie passed away in 1867. His widow went on to open a modest guesthouse on the north shore of Delavan Lake, marking the humble beginning of Lake Lawn Resort.
To celebrate the circus the Delavan Historical Society is bringing the circus to Lake Lawn Resort this summer. ”The historical significance of Mabie’s Circus and Menagerie is something we want to celebrate with our guests and the Delavan community”, said Lake Lawn Resort General Manager Dave Sekeres. ”We hope that bringing the circus back will be a magnet for area guests.”