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The Circus in American history

Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 10:14 am

Most local residents may not know that one of the premier American Circus historians lives right here in Louisa County.  He is LaVahn  Hoh, professor of drama at the University of Virginia.  Hoh will give a free lecture at The Louisa Arts Center Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.  The program is co-sponsored by The Louisa County Historical Society.

“The American circus has a unique and often overlooked importance in American history,” Hoh said. “The first American circuses began in 1793 shortly after the country was founded.  As the country’s population grew, moved West,  and opened its gates to the world, the circus followed.”

According to Professor Hoh, the circus provided people’s first view of new inventions, exotic animals and people, and popular entertainments.  It was a primary form of entertainment and provided information for nineteenth century Americans, especially for those living in areas like Central Virginia.

The demand was such that by the beginning of the 20th Century, there were more than one hundred circuses traveling the country and routinely entertaining as many as 12,000 spectators at each show.

Presentation will be in The Louisa Arts Center, 214 Fredericksburg Ave., Louisa.  Call (540) 967-5975 for more information.