This Day in Texas History: The Circus Comes to Town
This Day in Texas History:
The Circus Comes to Town
November 8, 1852
On this day in 1852, the first recorded mention of the distinctive Mexican circus in Texas appeared in the San Antonio Ledger.
Though the performing groups may have been in Texas prior to this date, this newspaper report marked the first documentation of the circuses in the Lone Star State. The Mexican circuses evolved over the years from sixteenth-century performers called voladores (flyers) and Spanish minstrels and jugglers to include maromeros (acrobats) by the seventeenth century and dramatic performers in the eighteenth century.
By the time they got to Texas, the Mexican circuses had incorporated Italian, English, and American influences, including the English clown. Carpas (tent circuses) proved popular into the twentieth century throughout the Rio Grande Valley and South and Central Texas, and several companies made San Antonio their home base.
The carpas, often family-based, delivered commentary on Tejano social life and influenced the development of Mexican-American theater.
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