Monday, November 06, 2006

Al. Ringling Theater

Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Recognize the name? If the sounds of a calliope and the roar of the lion echo in your memory, then you've got it figured out. The Ringling Brothers, of circus fame, were residents of Baraboo, and even after attaining worldwide fame, lived their lives in this small town north of Madison.

At the same time the Ringling Bros. were gaining their fame, Baraboo was fast becoming a popular resort area. With Devil's Lake two miles south, and Wisconsin Dells 11 miles north, the area was becoming very popular with vacationers from Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis seeking a break from the heat of summer. And many brought their taste for culture with them.

In his later years, Al. Ringling decided to give a memorial to his adopted home. And he did it in grand style, commissioning the theater that bears his name today. Built in seven months at a cost of $100,000, "The Al." has been open continuously since its opening in 1915, showing movies, live music, and stage shows.

Unfortunately, Al. Ringling enjoyed his gift to the city only very briefly, passing away the following year. Now run by a non-profit organization, the theater remains a jewel in a small town.

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