Our correspondent Madeline Hoak went to the annual Circus Fans of America convention this year and reported back on the warm welcome she received from so many fans and circus folk happy to share their knowledge and expertise. She wrote an article about it here. Meanwhile, we asked Madeline to share some of her insights about her experience there.
What was something you learned about circus at CFA?
During my time at CFA, I came to appreciate the detailed process of preserving memorabilia and the people who are doing it. There are only so many museums, libraries or institutions that are able to take the phenomenal collections that circus enthusiasts have kept safe for so many years. These artifacts are important as research on traditional American circus continues, and the individuals that are caring for the posters, photographs, show programs and objects from this slice of American performing arts history are instrumental to the future. It truly is a labor of love.
For you personally, what was the most exciting aspect of the event?
Being a practitioner and a scholar, it was thrilling to meet both legendary performers and historians in a casual setting. Being with the same folks for a multi-day event gave us the opportunity to have meaningful conversations and learn from each other. There was plenty of time to chat with people at meals and between panel sessions. You’d catch someone in conversation while perusing the wares for sale from vendors selling recent publications or unique momentos. The scheduled presentations gave some common ground from which to start a conversation, but inevitably just being a circus fan is enough to find camaraderie. Unlike other events where there is a constant air of networking, the CFA convention was more like a family reunion. And indeed, many members consider each other as close as kin.
Any advice for new attendees?
If you have ever considered attending a Circus Fans of America convention, I say, go! It’s a fabulous way to meet people from all over the country that have a deep love for traditional circus. Be prepared to wear your love for circus on your sleeve and to share your own experiences and stories!