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MANSFIELD — An Ashland woman who is a collector of Barnum & Bailey Circus memorabilia was surprised to find her Christmas gift was an admission ticket to the circus in Mansfield — but she would need a time machine to use it. It's dated July 9, 1918.
"For Christmas this year my family had found a circus admissions ticket that had been preserved in a book for the last 103 years. It was dated July 09, 1918. It's in mint condition," she said.
She said she started doing some research on the ticket and found it was to the circus that was held in Mansfield. What she still doesn't know is how much it cost to attend the circus show in 1918. The ticket doesn't specify the ticket price but has printed on it, "Pay War Tax at Main Entrance."
Warrick, 30, who works at Campbell's, the former Archway Cookies plant in Ashland, said her fiancé Jordan Kemper and his parents Scott and Renee Kemper found a private book collector in Norwalk on Facebook who was selling the book with the ticket. The book was, "Out of the Dusk" by Karen Hesse.
Family members had their cell phones ready
Warrick said when she was opening the present, family members were using their cell phones to video the moment.
She said when she unwrapped the book, she didn't know what to think and then family members told her to leaf through the pages.
Warrick was thrilled with the ticket, which she said is slightly smaller than a postcard.
"They won't tell me how much they paid for it," she said.
The Ashland woman only started collecting Barnum & Bailey Circus memorabilia about two years ago after attending a couple of circuses in Ashland.
"I was just fascinated, and I love history," she said. "They were so excited they found it and they know I love Barnum & Bailey."
Her collection includes a Barnum & Bailey official program from 1896, and she has a promotional circus wagon she found in Dayton. It has an elephant and two bears. It weighs 16 pounds.
She said the promotional circus piece is only missing a small clown who was driving the horse that pulled the wagon.
Barnum & Bailey Circus history
Known as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the circus started in 1919 when the Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, a circus created by P. T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, was merged with the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows. The Ringling brothers had purchased Barnum & Bailey Ltd. following Bailey's death in 1906, but ran the circuses were produced separately until they merged in 1919, according to online information.
After 1957, the circus no longer exhibited under its own portable "big top" tents, instead using permanent venues such as sports stadiums and arenas. In 1967, Irvin Feld and his brother Israel, along with Houston Judge Roy Hofheinz, bought the circus from the Ringling family. In 1971, the Felds and Hofheinz sold the circus to Mattel, buying it back from the toy company in 1981. After the death of Irvin Feld in 1984, the circus became part of Feld Entertainment, an international entertainment firm headed by his son Kenneth Feld, with its headquarters in Ellenton, Florida.
With weakening attendance, many animal rights protests, and high operating costs, the circus performed its final show on May 21, 2017, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and closed after 146 years, according to historical information.
The Mansfield News reported on July 5, 1918 that the Barnum & Bailey Circus was coming to town July 9, including two performances and a street parade.
Circus parades became popular in the latter years of the last century, the late Virgil Stanfield, longtime News Journal columnist, penned July 3, 2011.
Clowns and animals paraded through downtown streets
"Circuses came to town on special trains, and it was customary to stage a parade through the downtown section of the city on the morning of big show. Traffic was halted on Main Street and around the park while the colorful wagons, clowns, bands, elephants, camels and fine horses marched through town," Stanfield wrote in this column.
"The parades drew thousands of spectators, many of whom later paid to see the afternoon or evening performances. The circus lot for a time was off Park Avenue East. Later the tents were set up at the fairgrounds.
"The circus parades continued well into the 1900s, or until motor traffic got so heavy that many towns refused to close streets on circus day," according to Stanfield.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: 1918 Mansfield circus ticket brightens Christmas for Barnum & Bailey fan