Garland Entry, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1930


This photograph shows horses and riders of the "Fete of Garlands" or "Garland Entry" assembling in the back yard of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus before going into the big top tent. Various tents and baggage wagons can be seen in the background. The image is a good example of the size and complexity of a “spec” performance in a large American circus. The spectacle, or “spec,” developed as a procession that took place around the hippodrome track inside the big top, or circus tent, featuring as many of the performers and animals as the circus director was able to costume. The costumes created for specs were often exotic, representing cultures from all parts of the globe. The photograph is by Harry A. Atwell (1879–1957), an official photographer of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Last updated: March 21, 2014