The coming of the circus was a great event in the life of a town. Excitement would start building when the publicity man came to advertise the circus. Others came with posters to keep the anticipation high. When the train bearing carloads of animals, equipment, and performers, finally came, people, especially the younger citizens, clamored to be at the depot to see the arrival of the circus.
As the circus unloaded, a parade would form and people could watch the performers and animals walk to the circus grounds to begin the process of setting up the big event.
In 1915 the Ringling Bros. parade in Red Wing consisted of:
This parade included 279 horses, thirty ponies, twenty-nine units, and six mounted parade marshals. It must have been quite a sight! In order to provide the grandest spectacle possible, strict parade rules had to be followed.
There often were two performances each day at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Each show lasted about two hours. While the circus was being set up, the people who had followed the parade were entertained by the side show.
Concession stands sold all sorts of wonderful things, including cotton candy and pink lemonade. When the circus left, things returned to normal, but some people dreamed of the next time that the circus would come to town.