Ridgeland's Brooke Evans creates small-scale models of historical Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus menagerie.  The one he's posing newt to took him five years to build.

 

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Making Circus Models is a Cherished Art Form

 

Imagine being a child going to the circus for the first time.

 

You walk into the big white tent, which is surprisingly bigger on the inside than it appears outside.

 

You snack on popcorn and cotton candy before the lights dim low.

 

The ring master comes out with his friends a remarkable array of  clowns, contortionists, and exotic animals.  you leave with a big grin on your face and memories to last a lifetime.

 

The unique world of the circus developed into his passion, turned into  a career, and now he is a nationally recognized circus model builder.

 

"My mother and father took me to my first circus when I was 6 months old and I've been in love with it ever since." Evens said.

 

Although he now lives in Ridgeland with his wife Maggie, he grew up in Pennsylvania where his father worked as a radio announcer.  He said his father was the first man in the country to broadcast the Ringling Bro. and Barnum Bailey circus from start to finish on the radio.

 

At 15 years old, he packed his bags and went to a place he said felt like a second house.

 

"to get myself through college, I ran away I joined a carnival," Evans said, "but that's how I paid my way through college.  I ran rides, set them up, tore them down, and just worked myself to death."

 

He said while working in the Pennsylvania carnival, he got the chance to tour all over the East Coast with different circus acts.

 

"It's a real tight-knit community and they aren't gypsies that come into town and take you kids and all those old stories you've heard for years."  Evans said.  "they're hard working performers who are dedicated to everything they do."

 

The dazzle of the circus life simmered down for a while when he served on the Navy riverboats during the Vietnam War in 1967 and 1968.

 

But that couldn't keep him away from his passion.

 

Building Circus Models

 

"I come home from Vietnam and I saved every nickel I could." Evans said. "I bought a merry-go-round and eventually I owned my own 18-right carnival."

 

At the time, he was living in Florida.  While running carnival, Abroo Shows, his interested peaked in a new hobby - circus model building.

 

"I read an article about building a circus wagon in a magazine and one of my next door neighbors when I was a little kid built circus wagons and I just thought it was neat," Evans said. "So I built one, then I built another one and I built another one."

 

Evans stopped running the carnival in 2000 after being declared legally blind.

 

He said he has since built around 1,000 circus models, including a recreation of the 1946 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was authenticated and placed on display in the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield Mass.

 

"It's an exact replica.  Everything's there."  Evans said "The big top's there it's animated, I've got 10,000 hand-painted people in the tent."

 

Most recently, he created a model designed from the 1950s Ringling circus menagerie.  That project took him five years to build.

 

"All the wagons are made out of styrene plastic.  I cut everything with a single edge razor blade and use different adhesives."  Evans said. "The only thing I don't do, I don't carve the animals or the people.  Everything else I entirely built from scratch."

 

 

An inside look of the menagerie.  Evans said he designed the menagerie from the Ringling-Barnum Circus during the 1950's.

 

 

The model measures 15-feet by 15-feet and will go on tour this summer.

 

Have art, will travel

 

As the area manager for the Circus Model Builders organization. Evans will travel to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisc., for a show until the end of June.

 

He and his wife will visit fairs in New York and Massachusetts before setting up the display for a show in Savannah in October.

 

Although he creates these historically accurate masterpieces, Evans said he's never considered himself an artist until reading a quote in a newspaper article one day.

 

"It's said if you world with your hands, you're a laborer.  If you work with your hands and your mind, you're a craftsman.  If you work with your hands, your mind, and your heart, you're an artist."  Evans said. "And I think I'm an artist, now."

 

Article by Genelle B. Williams - Jasper County Sun - June 18, 2014

 


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