In the 1950s the largest sideshow in
terms of physical equipment was Bill
Chalkis, out of Tarpon Springs, FL.
Bill had a 200 foot bannerline with
beautiful banners by Sigler. I
DECIDED TO MATCH THAT SO IN 1959 AND
1960 I ALSO HAD A 200 FOOT FRONT.
Bill was not about to be topped, in
1960 he had a 220 foot bannerline.
Neither of these shows were anywhere
near the best.
The best shows were those of DICK
BEST; SLIM KELLY AND WHITEY SUTTON;
PETE KORTES, AND GLEN PORTER, ALL OF
WHOM HAD ALL LIVE SHOWS WITH REAL
I WILL NOT COMPARE THE SIDESHOWS
WITH Museums, Freak Animal Shows,
Motordromes or Illusion Shows or the
many other type shows that existed
in those days which numbered over a
thousand, even those times of
declining midway shows.
Chris and I ended up purchasing the
equipment of Dick Best and of Bill
Chalkis in 1968, Pete Kortes in
1973, Kelly and Sutton in 1975. I
1976 we operated 4 sideshows, all
live acts ten in ones, a ten in one
illusion show, nine Single O grind
shows, and big tent theatre revues
in Canada and Mexico. And I think
the best sideshow that year was the
big show of Sam Alexander.
There are none today that could
compare with those times, just as
they would pale compared to The
Ringling Sideshows, Sam Gumpertz
Dreamland Sideshow, Coney Island
I believe that in todays show world
there cannot be anything like those.
Venus pace is no longer available in
locations where attendance like they
The attractions also are not
available, check out the group
photos of the Coney Island sideshow
and the Ringling Circus Shows of the
early 1930s. There are a lot of good
showmen today, that had they been
around in those days would have been
the great showmen of their days, and
we will see new ambitious young
showmen in the future. May God Bless
them all. In our nation we are in
for some tough economic times, but
the guys and ladies in our industry
At the worst of the depression of
the thirties, there were showmen
buying Cadillacs at the time the
national unemployment was over 25%.
My best wishes are with all of you.
Don't worry about bigger and best.
Give the people some value for their
buck, Remember the words of Ted
Turner," Early to Bed, Early to
rise, work like hell and
I wish everyone a Happy Christmas
and a PROSPEROUS 2010. (forgive MY
SPELLING, I WAS TOO BUSY TRYING TO
SUCCEED IN SHOW BZ, and didn't get
much time to go to school) OH well,
Bill Gates was a school dropout too.
Cordially, Ward Hall