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PAGE 14 MARCH 2012


Top that.


In Hugo, a small group of interested residents aims to honor the community’s circus history by building a one-of-kind museum and park. It is an effort that begins, first and foremost, at home.


C


awker City, Kansas draws tourists with its claim to the World’s Largest Ball of String. In Algona, Iowa it’s the biggest Cheeto, and


in Vinita, Oklahoma, home of the World’s Largest Calf Fry Festival, visitors stampede by the thousands to the county fairgrounds every September to dine on a dusty ranchhand favorite: bull testicles.


Given these choices , wouldn’t you rather go to Hugo? After all it’s Circus City USA,


home to the World’s Largest Big Top Show, the Carson and Barnes Circus, as well as the Kelly-Miller Circus, and the Culpepper Merriweather Circus. A refuge and breeding station for endangered Asian elephants is located here; also the famed Showman’s Rest Cemetery where generations of circus performers lay under fanciful tombstones that reflect their given talent.


Not surprisingly, a group of Hugo citizens is so assured of their town’s unique past that they are slowly but surely making plans, building relationships, and rasing money to build a dedicated facility called the Circus City Museum and Park.


Marilyn Custer, president of the Circus City Museum board of directors, said the goal of


the proposed museum is, first and foremost, to educate visitors and locals alike about the town’s unusual circus background.


It all began in 1937 when Hugo businessman and diehard circus fan Vernon Pratt traveled to Mena, Arkansas to meet Obert Miller, owner of the A1 G. Miller Circus. Pratt invited Miller to bring his circus to Hugo. Miller accepted the invite—and he and his circus stayed.


The mild southeast Oklahoma winters and central US location made Hugo the perfect circus wintering ground. As word got around, other circuses called Hugo home. Some came and went, others were absorbed into other shows, but each one contributed to the town’s colorful fabric.


Cont’d 


Old circus flyers from the archives of the Circus Historical Society are testament that more than one circus has called Hugo “home.”


CEC


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