The Drake Day Circus will be at Drake Well on Saturday.
By Mary Hill
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Titusville,PA---The circus is coming to Drake Well Museum on Saturday in celebration of Drake Day.
Drake Well Museum and Friends of Drake Well Inc. will host the Drake Day Circus, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Drake Day commemorates Col. Edwin L. Drake's drilling of the first commercial oil well, in Titusville, on Aug. 27, 1859.
According to Museum Site Administrator Melissa Mann, the Drake Day Circus is modeled on circuses that traveled to Titusville, Pithole and other locations throughout Pennsylvania's Oil Region during the 1860s.
"We tried to tailor [the circus] to what a 19th century circus would be like," Mann said. "The idea for this year's annual Drake Day celebration came straight out of historic sources housed in our archive.
"We have newspaper clippings and advertisements of circuses from the oil boom days," she said. "We plan to replicate the excitement of an oil boom era circus by filling the museum's grounds with circus entertainers, animals and other acts sure to delight and fascinate."
Mann said some of those newspaper clippings were from The Herald.
A June 2, 1866, edition of the Titusville Morning Herald had an advertisement informing readers that the Thayer Noyes and Co.'s Grand Combination Circus would be arriving in Titusville on Tuesday, June 12, 1866. The ad called the circus "The Grand Alliance of Talent," and said it would be bringing in foreign and native artists and a troupe of performing monkeys, dogs and ponies.
And, in the July 4, 1866, edition of the Morning Herald, an advertisement for Dan Rice's Mammoth Circus appeared.
Dan Rice, who had his winter quarters for his circus in Girard, was an entertainer of many talents, most famously as a clown.
The ad reported that Rice's circus was the "largest exhibition on Earth," with instructive and refined amusement. Rice's circus event was held in Titusville on Tuesday, July 17, 1866. The circus also made stops in Petroleum Center, on July 14, and Pithole City, on July 16.
Mann said the museum's staff was "throwing around" the idea to hold a circus, "and last year, we had the grand opening [of the renovated museum building] and we had a lot of people on the grounds and it was a festival atmosphere."
A professional circus troupe from Bacchanal Promotions, of Detroit, will headline the museum's Drake Day event, performing acts of juggling, fire eating, acrobatics, magic and more.
Mann said signature circus performances will take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., with various strolling performances occurring throughout the day.