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News Story
Updated: 01/03/2018 01:48:07PM

Venice, Englewood represented in Circus Ring of Fame

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PHOTO PROVIDED
Known as the "Queen of the Air," former Ringling Circus star Dolly Jacobs is a featured performer with Circus Sarasota, which she co-founded with her husband Pedro Reis. She was inducted in the St. Armand's Circus Ring of Fame in 1998, 10 years after her father, famous clown Lou Jacobs.

Gunther Gebel-Williams, considered the greatest animal trainer of all time, lived in Venice until his death in 2001. The former star of the old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was memorialized in bronze for a larger-than-life statue at the historic Venice Train Depot where the circus returned each fall after its cross country tour of the United States and Canada. The show wintered in Venice from 1960 to 1992. Gebel-Williams was honored by the Ring of Fame at St. Armand’s Circle in 1991.

Tina Gebel Delmoral, left, Gunther Gebel-Williams, Mark Gebel, family friend Barbara Mandrell and Sigrid Gebel. Tina and Mark are the children of Gunther and Sigrid and also had their own animal acts with The Greatest Show on Earth as did Sigrid.

SUN PHOTO BY KIM COOL
Kenneth Feld, seen here at a rehearsal of The Greatest Show on Earth at the Tampa Fairgrounds in a recent season, grew up in Venice as the son of circus owner Irvin Feld. Father and son were inducted into the St. Armand's Ring of Fame in 1999. In January of this year, Kenneth Feld announced the clsoing of The Greatest Show on Earth, which occurred May 21 at the Nassau Colisseum in New York.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART
John Ringling is pictured with a German Shepherd, one of the many pets he and his wife Mable enjoyed when they lived at Ca d'Zan, the Ringling mansion in Sarasota that dates to 1927. A bust of Ringling is prominently dspalyed at St. Armands Circle where he was one of the first honorees for the Ring of Fame in 1987.

PHOTO PROVIDED
Chuck Sidlow, the youngest Boss Cloen in the history of the old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, was a circus star during the years the show wintered in Venice. He is one of the 2018 honorees to be inducted into the St. Armand's Circus Ring of Fame on Jan, 13, 2018.

By KIM COOL

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One of the most coveted honors in this area’s circus world is inclusion in the St. Armands Ring of Fame in Sarasota.

This year, several inductees have connections to the era of 1960 to 1992 when The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus wintered in Venice at the arena The Greatest Show on Earth built near the Circus Bridge. (The arena was razed in 2015 after grassroots attempts to save it proved fruitless.)

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