This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
MARCH 2012 


As Custer pointed out, after 75 years of graceful intermingling, today the circus is so well assimilated into the community that it is hardly noticed. Some might say even taken for granted.


“We forget how special we are,” Custer admitted.


Nearly everyone in Hugo knows someone with ties to the circus. Barbara Miller Byrd and Geary Byrd, owners of the Carson and Barnes Circus, attend Custer’s church. An employee of Choctaw Electric is a descendant of the early circus families. Same goes for scores of other Hugo residents. “They work at the hospital, the flower shop, UPS,” Custer said. “They are woven into the community so completely that oftentimes we don’t even see it.”


Through education programs and other activities, the museum board aims to heighten local awareness and appreciation of the town’s unique past. An example is an after-school program for elementary


students. Taught by circus performers, the program offers hands-on training in hula hooping, juggling and other circus skills. “The kids have a great time, but at the same time they’re learning about our history,” Custer said.


The museum also hosts two annual events that serve the dual purpose of raising money for the museum and celebrating Hugo’s circus background.


Taking place the first Saturday in November, the Circus Festival features exhibits, performances and other activities. All the fun takes place on the future site of the new museum at 702 E. Jackson in Hugo.


On the last Saturday in January, Kiamichi Vocational Center hosts the Red Nose Cafe, where circus folks cook up and serve their favorite circus food to the hungry public.


These events cast the spotlight on Hugo’s circus life, but as Custer emphasized, they don’t come close to capturing it completely. “We have an unreal amount of information to share,” Custer said. “And the stories that come


PAGE 15 out of it all are simply amazing.”


For instance, most people don’t’ realize there is an order of Catholic nuns, known as the Little Sisters of Jesus, whose sole mission is to travel with circus families and offer their support. Two nuns have traveled with each of the three Hugo circuses. According to Custer, they love their work and love the circus life. They also love Hugo and have even considered retiring in the community.


As dynamic as the people and animals that are the circus, Custer said the museum will be designed as a “living” museum. The term refers to museums where visitors experience history through interactive exhibits that engage all the senses. “It won’t be one of those places where you just go in and look,” she said.


As efforts to erect the museum proceed, Custard encourages everyone to attend a fund raiser, buy a cookbook, or simply experience a traveling circus performance firsthand. The circus is a part of Hugo Oklahoma, and it’s a history worth honoring.


Cookbook features circus fare Favorite recipes from beneath the Big Top


A


perfect gift for the cook who has everything, The Flag is Up features recipes from circus cooks from


around country. From roasted Kalamata olives and monster cookies to heartier dishes such as meatloaf, these foods are crowd pleasing circus favorites.


Included in the 180 pages are highlights of Hugo’s circus history, as well as photographs and histories of featured circus cooks. Even the book’s title reflects circus history. “The flag is up” is a saying that arose from the circus cook’s tendency to signal a meal’s readiness by raising a flag.


The Flag is Up costs $15, plus $3 for shipping and handling. Proceeds from cookbook sales go toward the construction of Hugo’s Circus City Museum and Park.


To order The Flag is Up, please contact Marilyn Custer, president of the Circus City Museum board of directors, at 580-326-3547, or email your request to custerwm@yahoo.com. To order via mail, please send your check ($15 plus $3 shipping and handling) made payable to Circus City Museum and Park Inc. to:


Circus City Museum and Park, Inc./Attn: Marilyn Custer Po Box 1019, Hugo, OK 74743


 By: Judith Cavallini


1 head cauliflower 4 bone-in chicken breasts 1/2 c. olive oil 1/2 onion, diced 1 tomato, diced 5 garlic cloves, diced 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tbsp. coarse-ground black pepper 3 tbsp. soy sauce 1 15-oz. can chicken broth Water


Clean and cut up the cauliflower; break into small pieces. Remove skin from chicken and cut each into two pieces. In pot, heat oil and brown the chicken. Add garlic, tomato, onion, salt and pepper; cook until chicken is almost done. Add cauliflower and chicken broth, and enough water so liquid is at same depth as cauliflower. Add soy sauce and cook until cauliflower is tender.


—Reprinted from The Flag is Up. Thank you for your support!


CEC


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