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Florida Matters: Saying Goodbye To 'The Greatest Show On Earth'

After 146 years as the "Greatest Show on Earth," the owners of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have decided to take the tent down.

This week on Florida Matters we’re exploring the history of the circus, its local ties and the economics of the decision to close.

Florida Matters’ Stephanie Colombini talks with performers, fans and animal rights activists who were in Tampa for Ringling’s last shows in the Sunshine State.

The circus has a colorful past full of performers who worked under the big top. Many of them call Gibsonton home in Hillsborough County. Florida Matters’ Quincy Walters visits their community along U.S. 41.

The show also features a discussion with our guests:

Credit Janelle Irwin

Janelle Irwin, Reporter with the Tampa Bay Business Journal

Credit Rodney Kite-Powell

Rodney Kite-Powell, Director of the Touchton Map Library and the Saunders Foundation Curator of History at the Tampa Bay History Center


What will you miss most about the circus? Or are you pleased to see it go? Share your thoughts and memories with us on our Facebook page.

For more on the history of the circus click here. For local circus attractions, check out the Ringling Circus Museum and Circus Arts Conservatory in Sarasota, or the International Independent Showmen's Museum in Gibsonton.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Carson Cooper has become a favorite of WUSF listeners as the host of "Morning Edition" on WUSF 89.7 since he took the job in 2000. Carson has worked in Tampa Bay radio for three decades.
Quincy J. Walters is a junior at USF, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. His interest in journalism spurred from the desire to convey compelling narratives. He has written for USF’s student paper, The Oracle and is currently the videographer for Creative Pinellas. If he’s not listening to NPR, he’s probably listening to Randy Newman.
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