We Care About Animal Welfare

Members of the Circus Fans Association of America (CFA) come from many walks of life—we are active and retired circus performers, educators, clergy, men and women of business and industry, first responders, medical personnel, entertainers, animal caregivers, public servants, and representatives of many other areas of society. We are united in our love and advocacy for the circus in all its forms, including those companies who feature domestic and exotic animals. As we are unified in our love of the circus, we are also united in our respect and love for the animals in the circus, and those who care for them.

Based on our membership’s extensive experience with circus, the CFA recognizes that the circus industry is on the front lines of endangered species conservation. Circuses promote education about endangered species, advance knowledge and expertise of husbandry techniques, and serve as a genetic insurance policy against extinction through some of the most successful breeding programs in the world.

We therefore support the humane and responsible care and exhibition of circus animals and those showcased in other mainstream forms of entertainment; we support and seek to preserve the human-animal bond that is often expressed through respectful contact with animals and the experience of seeing them in person; and, supporting the public’s right to choose its entertainment options. We denounce those extremists who seek to impose their agenda on the public, destroy human contact with animals, and who foster misinformation about the circus and its people.

As an American tradition older that baseball, the circus is a valuable art form accessible to all walks of life. We wish for present and future generations to experience animals in person and to witness the amazing bond humans and animals share as a way of inspiring them to have a vested interest in conservation, as in its most elemental form the circus is truly a celebration of life.

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

grassroots-link2 Stay up to date on CFA Calls for Action!

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

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On the Front Lines

January 19, 2017
from Gary Payne, CFA President

The announcement of the forthcoming closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has caught the imagination of the media and produced ironically some positive results for the CFA and Circus Fans and friends everywhere.

We’re seeing quite a bounce in membership inquiries and media requests for interviews as to our reaction to the announcement—all while ticket sales for the Ringling show and others seem to be exploding.

I need all CFA members to stay on message with us, and let’s keep the momentum going!

  1. We’re sad to see the demise of The Greatest Show on Earth, a household name and valued tradition for 146 years, but….
  2. We stand with the cast and crew of the two units as they transition into other career roles, and we thank them for their devotion to the fabulous world of the circus.
  3. We support all other circuses that currently are touring or presenting performances—some two dozen traditional troupes and over 300 youth circus companies or academies around the nation.
  4. We encourage the public to support our efforts to save the circus traditions in America by joining CFA, and most importantly by attending the circus when it comes to their town or city.
  5. We love the circus in all its forms and we continue to honor our mission of advocating for all circus people, animals, and arts.

Check this website regularly for updates!

Gary Payne

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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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