After leaving the fairground of Swanzey, NH, we ventured to our first stop in Massachusetts: Great Barrington. Setting up our circus lot is always a puzzle involving fitting trucks, trailers, and tents into a complex arrangement, and here the puzzle was further complicated by the trees and old buildings surrounding the Great Barrington Fairgrounds. With careful planning and nimble coordination though, we began our load-in. Soon, the blue and white tents became visible from the road overlooking the fairgrounds, offering a splash of color in the sea of green.
In the center of the grounds, there’s an old race track, complete with stables and tall towers covered in winding vines that I assume were used to commentate races. The wooden buildings covering the fairgrounds provide a charm and old-timey mystique to the lot.
Though the fairgrounds have sat empty for years, there is a new life in their future! In 2012, Janet and Bart Elsbach purchased the property and formed the nonprofit, Great Barrington Fair Grounds (GBFG) to head renovations. In talking about the future of the fairgrounds to The Berkshire Edge, Janet Elsbach explained a goal of “cultivating a town commons where we gather, play and learn, as both stewards and beneficiaries of the land’s environmental, agricultural, historical and recreational gifts.” Hundreds of volunteers have devoted time to help reach this goal!
We are delighted to be here as a part of the revitalization, teaming up with GBFG and their ticketing partner, The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. In our travels all over New England, Smirkus will often partner with non-profit organizations to help them fundraise. Though we travel to fifteen locations this summer, each location offers a unique story with its own special history. It’s always a pleasure to learn and share with the local community!