The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 29, 2013

Heritage Center exhibit profiles ‘Circus Big Top, 1890-1965’

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center’s current temporary exhibit, “Step Right Up! Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top, 1890-1965,” takes viewers behind the scenes of the circus, exploring the pageantry, colorful past, and presence of one of America’s oldest theatrical traditions.

The circus provided a source of entertainment and amazement that thrilled audiences from shore to shore.  

Another type of circus — Wild West shows — also were popular in the early 20th century. The Wild West shows brought the thrill and adventure of the West to Eastern audiences fascinated with the Western frontier.

At noon  July 10, Erin Brown, curator of the Pawnee Bill Ranch, and Anne Davis, education director, will provide a Brown Bag Lunch & Learn presentation on Pawnee Bill Ranch in Pawnee and Pawnee Bill Wild West Show. The presentation will be held in the Humphrey Heritage Village Church and is free to the public.

Pawnee Bill Ranch once was the showplace of the world renowned Wild West Show entertainer Gordon W. “Pawnee Bill” Lillie. The ranch now is the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is open to the public. Lillie’s 1910 fully furnished mansion is filled with family memorabilia, photographs and original artwork. The property also houses a museum with exhibits related to Pawnee Bill, the Wild West shows and the Pawnees. The 500 acre grounds include the original blacksmith shop, a 1903 log cabin, a large barn built in 1926 and an Indian Flower Shrine, all open to tour.

Pawnee Bill Ranch also is home to a herd of bison, longhorn cattle and several draft horses. A drive-through pasture makes viewing these grazing herds accessible to visitors. Each year, the Pawnee Bill Ranch also recreates Pawnee Bill’s Original Wild West Show the last three Saturdays in June.

“Step Right Up! Behind the Scenes of the Circus Big Top, 1890-1965” will be on display at Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center through Aug. 11. Visitors to the Heritage Center will receive a $1 discount off admission by showing their ticket stubs to Cirque Musica, which was held June 27 at Enid Events Center.

The Heritage Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. For information on the Brown Bag Lunch & Learns or other CSRHC programs, contact the Heritage Center at 237-1907 or online at

Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center is located at 507 S. 4th.