The Second Greatest Show on Earth

Big top brothers bring their circus to town. No, not the Ringlings.

The Ontario-based Garden Bros. Circus has a lot in common with that other three-ring sibling troupe. It’s been around forever (well, since 1938), it boasts a few world records (for one thing, it’s the largest outdoor circus in North America), and it prefers to keep things in the family. “Dad got a cold one day, and he grabbed my arm and said, ‘Just go out there and repeat everything I say,’” recalls ringmaster Ian Garden Jr., who stepped into his father’s shoes 22 years ago. “I was born into this business.”

Ian and his brother Robert are part of a 70-year-old legacy that started with their grandfather and great-uncle. Things have changed much since then, says Ian. In fact, they’ve changed since the last time the circus came to town. “My priority is to keep [mixing up] the show,” he says. That means while traditional animal and high-wire acts are still part of the production, look out for extreme motorcyclists and a state-of-the-art laser-light show. “I want to see the children smile,” says Garden. “My job is easy. I just sell fun and laughter.”
Sat., April 7, 12 & 4 p.m.