Statement by Gary Payne, President, The Circus Fans Association of America (CFA)

To All CFA members and circus friends,

We who love the circus in all its many forms are deeply saddened and distressed at the news that the most famous show of all, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, will cease operation in May. Although to some of us, the closing is not totally surprising given the retirement of its elephants last year, the passing of an iconic institution and brand is cause for mourning by America.

For nearly 150 years, the show survived so much, yet always found a way to seem new and exciting each year. Our hearts go out to the dedicated professionals in the cast and crew who will need our support as they seek to move on. I urge our members to reach out in solidarity to those who ARE the circus.

I also remind Americans that the tradition of circus continues, notably by the many youth circus troupes who represent up and coming traditions of their own, as well as the remaining shows that still travel from town to town bringing family entertainment–including animals!–to children of all ages. These circuses, too, will need our special support as CFA members and friends.

Finally, I urge my fellow citizens to understand that the lies and misinformation peddled by animal extremists, often with no critical questioning by the media, represent a dangerous intervention in our society. Those who would dictate what we choose to experience in entertainment, whose twisted agendas have had disturbing influence on the whole question of real animal welfare and conservation, will remain a severe threat to our freedoms after Ringling has passed into history.

For now, let us thank The Greatest Show on Earth for an amazing run, and may we continue to hold it in our hearts long after the curtain has come down. CFA’s commitment to the wonderful world of the circus goes on. May we do what we can to ensure that the circus will always have a prominent place in our culture and our thinking.

cfa_saleOur Membership Task Force has been hard at work, addressing and taking action toward attracting new members into the CFA.  Read more …

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Click HERE for 2017 CFA Convention Meet Us in St. Louis!

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Latest CFA grassroots items are listed here.  The Circus needs your help!

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Circus Fans Association of America

Looking for the old site? Click HERE.

We who love the circus, bind ourselves together as a nonprofit organization to make an organized effort to create interest in the circus as an institution. We believe in the circus as an important part of the performing arts and having great education values. We dedicate ourselves together in the hope of forming fast friendship s and to make an organized effort to assist all circuses. We further dedicate ourselves to preserve for future generations, this beloved institution known as the CIRCUS.

gift2As a member of CFA, you will receive six issues a year of our magazine, The White Tops. In additi on to organizational information, The White Tops contains columns about current circus acts, show locations, management shifts, marketing strategies, births and deaths. 

Recent issues of The White Tops have detailed the glory days of the Ringling show when it traveled on giant trains in the late 1940s and ’50s: featured circus reviews, Tent/Top News, and convention information, profiled great animal trainers, and the varied entertainment of showmanship skills only the circus has to offer.

CFA members gather at an annual convention. This circus star-studded affair is always held in conjunction with a performing circus. Circus personnel attend our sessions, socialize and participate in seminars. We discuss circus skills, marketing. animal training and care, how to move a circus, how to feed a circus, and the art of collecting those glorious circus posters.

You can see, we are friendly folks, bound by an ever fascinating common interest – the most colorful, and exciting hobby in the world – The CIRCUS!

Welcome to CFA – A letter from our President

WELCOME to the Circus Fans Association of America (CFA) website! We’ve been around since 1926, and we’re for, as the ringmaster would say, “Children” of all ages!

What is a Circus Fan?  Well … my parents took me to my first circus when I was 6 years old. I sat on the edge of my seat. I never left that seat. I was hooked.  —-> read more.


WCS_2015logo_smWCS2015 Merchandise and Publications

If you missed the Worldwide Circus Summit, or if you did attend and would like to have a reminder, we have Souvenir Programs, Children’s Books, DVD Documentary, Pins, and Posters still available for purchase. 


What’s a circus fan?

Circus fanning has many components and fans use them in many ways. Here are some examples:

  • Meeting with other folks who enjoy circus and share a meal
  • Meeting circus folks: owners, performers, roustabouts
  • Bringing watermelons for the elephants

photo by Paul Gutheil

  • Learn the 240 years of American circus history, or at least 1 year? 
  • Helping a performer with a ride to the market
  • Finding timothy for hungry elephants from a local farmer
  • Talking with performers on the circus floor
  • Putting a trip together to see a circus 100 miles away
  • Learn to make floss (cotton candy)
  • Know where the shows are, who is coming next and where
  • Attend conventions with other fans and circus people
  • Learn about the international circus shows, how they differ
  • Attend a fan’s circus performance in his own backyard
  • See a big top go up and understand what a quarter pole is

Photo by Paul Gutheil

  • Learn the circus language, you towner, you
  • Identify the many circus acts and how they are done
  • Read the best circus magazine in the world 6 times a year
  • Find out where the circus winter quarters are and how to see them
  • Experience the many circus websites, blogs, links 
  • Meet circus stars at shows and talk about their lives and adventures like Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs (center ring clowns Steve and Ryan).
  • Help side show master Ward Hall bring in the groceries before getting a tour of his show World on Wonders, seen here at the Ohio State Fair.
  • Attend yearly conventions and bid on world class circus memorabilia, attend circus seminars, see shows and make new friends.
  • Meet John Ringling North II on the backlot at Kelly Miller. Sit with him for the show. Talk about 1956 when his family went out from under canvas.
  • Attend the Peru IN circus parade often including CFA members.
  • Help with setup as Katie Harmke raises the cannon.
  • Learn about circus groups like the circus model builders, historians and windjammers
  • Visit a circus backyard (where the performers live)
  • Join a tent (local circus group) or top (state) for even more circus
  • Learn how to help circus animals and trainers fight animal wrongists
  • Know what it means when the circus band plays “The Stars and Stripes Forever”

The purpose …

of this Association founded in 1926, and its objectives shall be:

To preserve the circus as an art form and entertainment institution by educating the general public through lectures, seminars, and circus literature and publicity that truthfully portrays the circus and its people; and to promote goodwill between the public and all worthy circuses and circus people; and to oppose vigorously any publicity that tends to distort, misrepresent or give to the general public a false impression of an honorable and colorful institution; and …

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