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The 'Greatest Show on Earth' with roots in Bridgeport is back

The Barnum Museum, BRC Imagination Arts

A famous three-ring circus with roots in Bridgeport is back after a five-year hiatus.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus packed up in 2017 after 146 years of producing the “Greatest Show on Earth.” The circus was also criticized for the treatment of its show animals.

Beginning in fall 2023, the circus will go on a national tour — with live animal shows — to more than 50 cities, and supervised by a former Cirque du Soleil choreographer.

The traveling circus show was founded in 1871 by P.T. Barnum, a former mayor of Bridgeport.

“We are looking forward to Bridgeport becoming the entertainment destination for Connecticut,” Mayor Joe Ganim said in a statement.

“It's wonderful to see Barnum's legacy resurrected in the form of live events,” he added. “We can only hope that the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus will make Bridgeport one of their first stops on their tour at one of our prime locations.”

The city plans to bring back its Barnum Festival events this summer after cancellations during the pandemic.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.