Hunter Barnes's best photograph: the bar for off-season sideshow performers

By Interview by Nell Frizzell

‘She's a barmaid in Gibsonton, a town built for circus folk. “Honey, I'm cooking!” she said, but let me go ahead'

I'd always wanted to do a book on small carnivals. So when a documentary maker told me about Gibsonton in Florida, I immediately bought a plane ticket. The town was built for people from the carnival industry, to give them a place to live off-season. It's divided into zones for animals and circus acts: you can have a carnival ride on your front garden and a giraffe in your back. It was close to Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus and was once a village for little people, who we used to call “dwarves”. The people considered “giants” had their own encampment.

I'd seen an interview with a guy named Ward Hall, who owns the World of Wonders, the last travelling sideshow in America. The interview was from the 1980s and he was looking old then, so I wasn't sure he'd still be alive. But I tracked him down and we talked. He invited me out to his house and took me to Showtown.

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Source: Hunter Barnes's best photograph: the bar for off-season sideshow performers