Circus history coming to town for Heritage Days in Plover
Engford family will describe amazing life as performers
This cannon, mounted on a 1929 Ford Pinto replica, was part of a performance by Frank Clark, left, and Ruth Engford Clark, right. This act took the bronze medal for comedy at the International Circus Competition in Sarasota, Florida in 1991. / Contributed photo
Written by Andy Davis
From: Stevens Point Journal Media
Jun. 11, 2014
PLOVER,WI — The Portage County Historical Society will welcome the Engford family circus performers again this year for Heritage Days at Heritage Park in Plover.
Ruth Engford Clark, her husband, Frank Clark, and their relatives will talk about their experiences as a circus family at the event on June 21 and 22. Frank and Ruth Clark will recount their days as “Francarro & Estreleta, America’s Premier Aerialists,” and organizers will show videos of Engford family circus acts, during the presentation at the Church Museum in Heritage Park.
Heritage Days also will include information and displays from other circus families, including the Franzen Brothers and the Barnsdales.
Frank Clark and Ruth Engford, aerialists, were married while dangling under this helicopter, piloted by the wedding's best man, accompanied by the maid of honor and minister. / Photo by Buster Bailey
Visitors will be able to tour the circus caravan and the Engford Circus house, and see displays of a walk-through big-top marquee, costumes Ruth made by hand and some of Frank’s foot juggling equipment.
“This means very much to me personally because it’s the family home, and to have it preserved at Heritage Park means very much to me and my family,” Ruth said. “It’s also very important to share what my family has used in performances.”
Turnout for the event is expected to be around 600 to 700 people, close to what it was last year, said historical society events planner Julie Richards.
“It’s a pretty massive undertaking setting up the exhibits and displays, but who doesn’t love a circus?” Richards said.
Anton Anday, a member of the historical society who is helping prepare for Heritage Days, said the organization is always looking for volunteers.
Several members of the Engford family will attend the event, he said.
“It’s an Engford family reunion of sorts,” Anday said.
Attendance is free, and Richards said Heritage Days is a great way for Portage County residents to learn something about the place where they live.
“Sometimes people are just blown away by little pieces of local history,” she said. “I don’t think you can put a price tag on your community’s history, and that’s what Heritage Park means to the community.”