The mini-circus has come to town

By Lori O' Brien


SPRINGFIELD Miniature circuses past and present will be the center of attention when the Circus Model Builders Inc. bring their unique show to the Eastfield Mall this week.

The Circus Model Builders is an international organization that brings together people who build or own miniature models of circuses, circus equipment, circus trains, acts or other circus components, according to Don Kowell, a spokesperson for the group who spoke to Reminder Publications.

"Showing our models before the public is entertaining and educational for everyone," he said.

More than 100 displays of handmade models in various scales will highlight the fascinating and colorful world of the circus and carnival. The models depict the historical heyday of the circus as well as the modern circus of today, added Kowell.

The exhibition will be on view Sept. 13-16 during regular mall hours, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and also includes exhibits by the Carnival Historical and Model Builders Society.

"Circus model builders are men, women, boys and girls of all ages who share in the common hobby by networking with other modelers on ideas, plans, techniques, parts and supplies, research and all aspects of circus modeling," said Kowell.

Kowell added that the organization has regional clubs called "rings" that host regular meetings, model shows and gatherings.

"There you can show off your latest handiwork or be inspired by the craftsmanship of other modelers," he said.

Circus models are authentic replicas of circus wagons, trucks, trains, acts, circus equipment, and even entire circuses individually created by the model builder. Modelers build in scales as small as 1/8" per foot to almost full size.

"Often circus builders create their models based on personal experiences or favorite memories in visiting a circus," said Kowell, adding that others are just fascinated with the history of the circus itself and create models from that research.

Models are scratch built, kit built, modified components or other creations made from wood, plastic, metal, cardboard or anything one's imagination can adapt.

"Circus modeling is a unique and challenging hobby that involves research, imagination, creativity and patience," said Kowell. "It is a hobby that never becomes boring because there is always one more detail to add or one more interesting model to build."

Kowell added that often the hobby is combined as an attraction to one's model railroad since circuses used to travel by train years ago.

The public is welcome to study the models and ask questions about modeling techniques and the hobby in general.

"Most exhibitors love to show off their handiwork and provide a lesson in modeling as well as circus or carnival history," said Kowell.

While this is an exhibition for persons of all ages, Kowell stressed it is a serious hobby.

"The displays are not toys or antiques so please don't touch or play with the models," he said, adding that some exhibits represent a lifetime of research, dedication and many hours of creating each model piece.

The show will also feature a host of vendors allowing area residents the ability to purchase parts and supplies for this unique hobby.

For more information on the Circus Model Builders, visit

"Anyone can join the CMB as it is commonly known," said Kowell. "All you need is an interest in owning, collecting or building miniature models of the circus."

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Circus Model Builders will also be conducting a convention that will culminate in a visit to the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield.

"Springfield was chosen for this gathering for its central location in New England, as well as its great attractions in the area and the Big E," said Kowell.