Tuesday, May 31, 2011

L.E. Barnes #1 (From Jim Cole)

LEB%20Route%20Card%20, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

10 Years ago... Wild animal trainer Dave Hoover, after 20 years on Clyde Beatty – Cole Bros. Circus with his lion & tiger act (1966 – 1985) , then several more in management, had always dreamed of taking out his own circus. In 2001, Dave formed a partnership with entrepreneur Eugene Calabrese and began putting together what is quite possibly the last of the traditional American big top circuses, the L. E. Barnes Circus. Dave used his wife’s maiden name, Lois Evans Barnes, to formulate the title. The show was framed at a location near Eustis, FL, and was kept so secret that the winter quarters got the nickname of “Area 51”.

The circus was about as traditional as you could get, three rings, a brass band, opened with a cage act, lots of animals, and closed with Brian Miser’s cannon.

The show opened on March 10, 2001 in Eustis, FL, and made it’s way up the east coast, following closely the familiar Beatty –Cole pattern. The first few weeks were quite challenging, but then things began to go smoothly, and by summer, the show was in the familiar New England States. However the tragic events of 9-11 had a severe effect on the show, business was off, and dates were cancelled. The show closed about a week later.


Harry Kingston said...

Mr. Cole,
Thank you for another great set of photos.
I was lucky to tag along with Bill Biggerstaff and to see this new circus for a few days. All new everything and paintd like the old day.
The perfomers were a great group of folks.
Many show folks came to visit.
Ralph Gifford put up postes all over the towns.
Rudy and Sue Lentz came to visit in I think Lake Wales and see the show. They had trouble getting the tent up and blew the first day there.
The Lentz's had there trunk full of grapefruit for the elephants.
So alot of visiting went on there.
A good circus band and John Moss was the ringmaster.
Dave Hoover back in the cage again
and it was geat to see him again.
It is a shame this show did not make it but 911 made it hard on all of us.
Harry in Texas

Jon Pult said...

Since you've been celebrating, that abbreviated route card puts me in the mind of the opening scenes of "The Greatest Show on Earth":

"We'll have a short season, no red ink and no trouble!"

Too bad for that Barnes show....turns out the world got turned upside down again.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, how is it more "the last of the traditional American big top circuses" then for example Kelly Miller, Cole, C & B, and the others that are still left, barely? Or is this one of those "first time in America" deals that were mentioned with distaste in regards to Ringling the other day?

Anonymous said...

nice looking equipment. Was it begged, barrowered, rented or bought and what happened to it? Dale Hoover was a very nice person on the CBCB lot. His act was styled after Clyde Beatty. (very old school)

Jimmy Cole said...

By today's standards, Cole Bros., Kelly - Miller and Carson Barnes are most certainly "traditional American big top circuses".

But 10 years ago, L.E. Barnes came out with pure circus ingredients that may never again be seen.

Jimmy Cole

Harry Kingston said...

Jimmy Cole,
Right on.
And the one that called Clyde Beatty's act very old school you get in a cage with 40 lions and tigers and come out alive which i doubt very much.
His act was a thrill of a life time for me.
And at least we sign our names right or wrong with our comments.
Harry in Texas

Lori said...


My 12yo daughter is working on a 4-H history project on the circus. She is interested in learning more about your mother, Sarah Babe Orton Woodcock. Are there any specific resource materials you could recommend for her research?

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration of our request.

Carl Bly said...

Saw Dave's show in Front Royal, Va after they were out for a month or so. On the good side he was old school and let me film the performance. Good show and people. On the bad side like with lots of shows the advance people let him down alot. After they were out for a couple of weeks he found only half the dates were actually booked! Thus Dave got out his Fairground Book and started filling in the blank days as cold dates! The posters for the show were great and should you be fortunate to have some, and are not aware, the actual art work is Dave's! Also unfortunately his listened to an unmentioned partner who purchased several things for him that were either used and not in the best condition although painted well, and the tent was not of the highest quality material and quickly developed holes. Great guy, missed, and unfortunately it did not make it.

Circus Photos said...

Harry, I have a great photo of you hanging arrows for dad.

Carl, I was the PR agent for Front Royal, Va. I just want to let you know that date was done the best I could do. My biggest problem was that my hand were tied by my boss. I had great ideas for the date I work. But my boss wouldn't do them.

24*hour*man said...

Does Harry rember putting up the first route arrow?

24*hour*man said...

The tent was brand new but it was not made very well. The tent now belongs to Serge Coronna along with some of the equipment.

Sue Lenz said...

Harry is correct, Rudi & I drove over to see the show in Lake Wales, sorry to say the tent was not up due to the steak driver being broken!

About a week later we drove to Immokalee to see the show and had taken Gunther Gebel with us.

Lovely tent and transport and an enjoyable show, this might possibly be the last Circus Gunther went to see before his passing.

24*hour*man said...

When I talked to Gunther after the show he was very impressed with it and enjoyed it very much.