Love 'em or hate 'em, you'll not see more daring feats or awesome spectacles than at the circus. With the Shrine Circus in town at the Lancaster Event Center from March 13 to 17, we combed through the records for photos of past circuses. They range from simply spectacular to daringly death-defying.
Tamer Guy Gossing tends to his Royal Bengal Tigers in 1970.
The Circus is Coming!
The origins of the modern circus date back to England in the 1760s (though the origin of the word "circus" dates all the way back to ancient Rome, think "bread and circuses"). The circus remains a popular staple of live entertainment to this day. Though the once ubiquitous circus parade -- like this one in downtown Lincoln in 1920 -- have largely fallen out of practice.
The woman in the dazzling outfit must really trust her partner in this 1967 balancing act.
Family act The Staneks practice their acrobatic performance before the Omaha Boat, Sports and Travel Show in this undated photo.
European tightrope walker -- also called a funambulist -- The Great Veno performs above an anxiety-filled crowd at the UNL Coliseum in 1966.
Lion tamer Herbert Castle commands his ferocious beasts in the International Circus in 1967.
An unnamed performer risks life and limb in this 1967 balancing act at the James Brothers Circus.
The Rhalfys perform an aerial balancing act -- 5 stories in the air! Untethered! With no safety net!
*audience gasps* -- at the Shrine Circus in 1968.
Rings of Fire
A pair of wild felines from the furthest corners of the globe run through their fiery routine in this undated photo.
It's easy to forget that being a lion tamer is a very real profession, and it really is as awesome as it sounds. This unnamed daredevil trains his big cats with cool confidence in 1967.
The Great Huberto
Herbie Webber, better known as The Great Huberto, performs the infamous "Slide for Life," several stories in the air with nothing but a parasol to steady him, in 1969.
Send in the Clowns
No circus has ever been complete without a troupe of clowns in its employ. Doug Sigler paints himself before the Shrine Circus at the State Fairgrounds in 1985.
The Aguilars defy not only death, but seemingly the laws of physics in this 1984 balancing act.
A sideshow firebreather dazzles a modest crowd at the Big John Strong Circus in 1974.
This is how you do a Grand Finale. The Coronas close the Shrine Circus show at the UNL Coliseum in 1966 with an absolutely incredible highwire act involving fireworks, motorcycles, girls hanging by one leg several stories in the air and -- no joke -- the guy on the motorcycle is blindfolded. They just don't make 'em like they used to.
Until We Meet Again
An unnamed chimpanzee waves to a circus crowd in 1963, just as we wave goodby to you from this edition of PhotoFiles. Farewell until next time, and we'll see you at the Shrine Circus at the Lancaster Event Center, March 11-15.