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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 HUMAN FREAKS.

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 etc.

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 had was.


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 will prosper.


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 ADVERTISE.".

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

 


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