One of the things we love about RVing is getting to know so many wonderful new friends.  And we particularly love RV Rallies.  It’s a great way to meet new people and to stay in touch with friends we’ve made.

This year, we attended the South East Region American Coach Christmas Rally in Sarasota.  This is our second time attending this rally, and again, we had a blast.

The Rally was held at the Sun-N-Fun Resort in Sarasota.  It’s a huge resort with a ton of amenities and the weather was perfect. 

The Christmas dinner and gift exchange was absolutely hilarious as everyone stood in a large circle and passed gifts left and right as our host read “‘Twas Night Before Christmas.”

Ringling Circus Museum

While in Sarasota, we spent an afternoon touring the Ringling Circus Museum.  It was interesting, but a bit disappointing.  We thought there would be more exhibits given the tremendous history of the Ringling Brothers Circus.

Established in 1948, the Ringling Museum of the American Circus was the first to document the rich history of this phenomenally popular entertainment. And because in 1927 John Ringling had made Sarasota the Winter Quarters of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, many of the performers moved to the immediate area. As a result of their generosity, the Museum’s collection of wardrobes and circus memorabilia quickly grew.

Today, the Circus Museum is home to the newly restored Wisconsin. Worthy of the man called the “King of the Circus”, the Wisconsin is the railroad car on which John and Mable Ringling traveled across the country looking for feature acts that would keep audiences filling the seats of the big top.


Lou Jacobs’ Clown Car – In 1925, Jacobs joined the circus and soon became a circus celebrity. His “Clown Car” was a crowd favorite. The 6-foot Jacobs was a contortionist and he could fit inside this tiny car and race it around the track.

Harold Ronk was known as “The Singing Ringmaster.” He serenaded audiences and introduced acts for 30 years.

Bill Ballantine’s Clown Shoes

The circus calliope was the last wagon in a miles-long street parade. The Two Jester Calliope has one of only a dozen original steam calliope instruments in existence today.

More Images in the Gallery

One fun, interactive area of the museum lets visitors squeeze into a clown car, walk the tightrope and more.  Here’s Cathy’s attempt at the tight rope.

The museum also features the World’s Largest Miniature Circus. The life-work of Howard Tibbals, the miniature circus is an exact 3/4-inch-to-the-foot scale replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as it may have looked in the 1920s and 30s. The scale and detail are amazing. Tibbals has worked for more than 50 years to recreate the circus using old pictures, posters, and news articles as his guide. Truly a sight to behold.