Open main menu

Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/160

This page has been validated.
130
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

THE FLUCTUATING LEVELS OF CIRCUS VALUES

In the eye of the law a circus must have feats of horsemanship in its program, and such shows have to pay a "circus" license, which in some States and cities is very high. If, however, the shows do not give any riding, their performance simply consisting of leaping, tumbling, and athletic feats, then a license may be taken out at a greatly reduced price; and this accounts for the almost numberless small shows which annually tour the country. Of the circus and menagerie show proper I do not think there are more than twenty in America; but of tented exhibitions, billed as "railroad shows," there are several hundred. The tented exhibitions employ from fifty to six hundred men each, and the capital invested in them runs from $5,000 to $250,000.

Many of the smaller shows are fitted out economically by purchasing from the larger ones paraphernalia that has been used a season or two. For example: the canvases used an entire season by a large show may be purchased cheaply, because it is essential to the attractiveness of a really great amusement institution to have each season a new, white "spread." The old canvas, if not sold to the smaller showmen,