Ringling Bros. pulling out the stops for final Hartford performa - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Ringling Bros. pulling out the stops for final Hartford performances

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The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is in Connecticut one last time.

After 146 years, the so-called Greatest Show On Earth is closing the curtain next month after years of change and decline.

The show kicks off Thursday night at the XL Center in Hartford and runs through the weekend. 

For performers, this final leg of their tour is bittersweet. They told Eyewitness News that they are pullout out all of the stops to make sure they impress the crowd.

"We are putting 110 percent into every single performance because we know every performance of the Greatest Show on Earth is going to be someone's last time seeing us," said Matthew Lish, a clown with Ringling Brothers.

For clown Ivan Vargas, clowning around is in his blood.

“I was actually born and raised on Ringling Brothers," Vargas said. "My parents have been working for Ringling Brothers for 27 years, so this is my home.”

For him, he said it's a case of all good things must coming to an end.

"I’m actually the 6th generation in my family to be in the circus," he said.

The last few years have brought changes to the circus.

It retired all the elephants, which were a big part of the performances, after several animal rights groups criticized and even sued the Ringling Brothers for how they treated the animals.

The company CEO said sales slowed following that.

The CEO called it a "difficult decision" to end the show, but said ticket sales just were not enough to match the high cost of running it.

This weekend though, clowns, acrobats and other exotic animals will all be there.

"We are older than baseball, we are older than Coca-Cola," Lish said. "This is not something that you think about ever going away."

The circus visits more than 100 cities each year. P.T. Barnum called Connecticut home, so there is history for the circus here.

"It's the greatest show on earth," Vargas said.

The circus is in town through April 30.

The show on Thursday begins at 7 p.m.

Show times include 7 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday's Show times are 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Ticket information can be found on the XL Center's website here.

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