When you mention “side shows,” people most often think of “freak shows” – the squalid (and mostly fake) attractions that were a part of the 1930′s carnival experience. Side shows, on the other hand, were exhibits full of “wonders,” “curiosities,” and “marvels” that were a part of any traveling circus—including P.T. Barnum.
The side show was located just off the midway (hence the term “side”) and was not included in the price of the average admission ticket. Side shows featured anything that was considered an anomaly, including animals, plants and natural wonders—but the biggest draw of the side show was always the humans. Side shows collected humans with deformities or oddities—who were often termed “freaks”—and for just a few cents more, any circus-goer could could have the opportunity to observe them doing activities that seemed impossible: a woman with no arms pouring tea, midgets who were happily married, the Siamese twins who could sing and dance.
Would you have stepped inside?