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Finding family under the Big Top
Photographer Barb Romberg shares her Ringling Bros. years
Barb Romberg rides in 'The Old Lady In The Shoe' pony wagon at the recent Baraboo circus parade.

It was the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ and it was family – a family that crossed the divides of blood, ethnicity, nationality, and culture. And off and on for nearly 25 years, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus was Barb Romberg’s home.

Barb grew up around the circus. She was a volunteer at the circus museum in Baraboo early on in life. She also got to know many a performer through her father. A local doctor and history buff, he was also a Mason. So too were more than a few performers. That gave the family entry into the world of performance and illusions that is the trademark of the circus.

A small boned blond, it wasn’t as a performer that Barb found her way to the circus. She would laugh at the idea, describing herself as far too uncoordinated to risk life and limb in the ring. Instead, having finished her college degree, she and her first husband joined up to run one of several trade booths, selling souvenirs and concessions at the large auditoriums and arenas that hosted the traveling Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuses. It was an adventure that became a life.


For the complete article, please see the Aug. 2, 2018 issue of the Fennimore Time.