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The P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus


An Employee of the Circus talks about Circus Life

Circus.  It has been almost six years since I joined up with the Red Unit of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.  I play trombone in the band and I am the assistant conductor whenever need be. I used to play as a local musician in the circus band whever Ringling would come to Oklahoma City.  The conductor asked me if I would be interested in traveling with them full time, should such a position become available.
A musician is always looking for a steady "gig", so I told him of course. He called me on November 1 1993, and I played my first show with the Red Unit as a regular on December 27th of that same year. I was more than a little surprised when I saw my living quarters: a 6 X 6 state room on the circus train.  But in that small space, I had enough room for everything I really needed, so I adjusted.  In the usual year, we play about 475 - 500 shows a year.  We are the most attended live entertainment event by far in the country every year, and it actually takes us two years to play all the cities that we play, so there are actually two units of The Greatest Show on Earth. In the last six years or so, I have met and married my beautiful wife, Theresa, and we just had our first child, our son Barrett Wayne Barlow.  We plan on staying here on the show as long as we can, because this is a great opportunity, both for us and for our child (and his brothers and/or sisters, should we have any others).  We have great jobs that allow us to do what we love, (Theresa is a dancer and Elephant rider) and we get to travel the whole country, and even into Canada and Mexico.  We have seen the whole country, we have very little in the way of expenses, and we are together all the time. I wish everyone could be as lucky as we are.  The only downside is that we don't get to see our families as much as we would like.  BUT, we get to see nearly all of our friends and aunts and uncles, etc. every two years at the most.  This is a great thing, and I am able to keep in touch with my folks and brother and sister in law using my laptop in nearly every city.  It is the life of a professional gypsy or tourist, but I am hooked.  I love it, and I hope to do this forever

Thanks, and I hope this answers all your questions, but email me if you have more,

Brett Barlow


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