The last Big Top

It’s the end of the line for the Greatest Show on Earth:

After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.

Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Circus XTREME will conclude its tour at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on May 7, 2017, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Out Of This World will conclude its tour at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017. We hope you will come to celebrate this American icon for one last time before our tours conclude.

Our company provides quality, live family entertainment, and we invite you to bring your family to one of our other events, including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!, as well as future productions.

So says Kenneth Feld, head of Feld Entertainment, which bought the circus in 1967, continued to manage it after its acquisition by Mattel in 1971, and bought it back in 1982.



  1. McG »

    15 January 2017 · 8:27 am

    I honestly don’t know if I ever attended a Ringling-Barnum & Bailey circus, though I do remember going to one at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium. Somehow I doubt that venue would have been big enough for the Greatest.

    Years later the (IIRC) Clyde Beatty circus set up its big top in a Cal Expo parking section and I saw one of their shows, elephants and all.

    It’s been a bad decade for the circus — their clowns can’t compete with Washington, D.C.

  2. fillyjonk »

    15 January 2017 · 2:03 pm

    I went to one once or twice as a child. It was not as exciting as I had been led to believe by that Toby Tyler movie (or by Dumbo, but I kind of figured it wouldn’t be, seeing as Dumbo was a cartoon). Sitting in the nosebleed seats of the old Richfield Coliseum trying to squint at the tigers.

    Then again, I feel slightly sad, because I can no longer threaten to run away and join the circus and have it actually mean something.

  3. McG »

    16 January 2017 · 9:57 am

    As it passes into history it will sigh, “At least Congress still lives.”

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