The Showfolks of Sarasota was conceived in 1964 as "An International Alliance of Circus Artists and Executives". Since that time, Showfolks membership has grown to encompass individuals from all aspects of show business and the entertainment world, to include "friends of the circus" who are members of supportive organizations such as Circus Fans of America, Circus Historical Society, Circus Model Builders, and Windjammers Unlimited (musicians).
Showfolks of Sarasota's first slate of officers were elected August 12, 1964 in the back room of Charlie Borza's Main Bar (which continues to operate today in the heart of Sarasota's downtown district). Showfolks' founders were: Don Edwards, President; Ludwig Maschino, First Vice-President; Tex Copeland, Second Vice-President; Earl Shipley, Secretary; Dolly Copeland, Treasurer; and Leonard Aylsworth, Chairman of the Board. Board of Directors members were Theal Marlowe, Mel Miller, Chuck Williams, Elly Ardelty, Hattie Shipley, Charlie Borza, Cora Davis, Ken Mayo, Giavanna Cannestrelli, and May Mitchell. The result of these individuals, who at the time had nothing more or less than a dream, is Showfolks of Sarasota's historic clubhouse which stands proudly on property acquired in 1967 at 5204 North Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota Florida, the Circus Capital of the World.
Prior to the ground breaking for Showfolks historic clubhouse which took place on September 10, 1967, it was not unusual to find Showfolks members meeting, and lounging about enjoying social moments on Ludwig Maschino's lanai at his home. Social events have been held at Showfolks Clubhouse on Saturday evenings since the club's inception with members from all over the world coming together. Members and guests enjoy International dinners prepared by members whose roots stray worldwide. Walls within Showfolks Karl Wallenda and Ludwig Maschino rooms are adorned with photos of stars from the past, the present, into the future. The Father Sullivan room, and Banquet hall, are surrounded by beautiful hand painted circus murals by renowned artist Bill Holm.
Since inception, simply out of the love for circus and show business, Showfolks' membership has ensured from year to year that the dreams of the few original founders grew from year to year. During the year 2005, Showfolks' celebrates its 41st Anniversary!
From performing artists, to office staff, from concessionaires and riggers, to promoters, from circus fans, to local friends, Showfolks members can honestly be proud when they exclaim "This Is What We Accomplished Together".
The Circus is the living proof that people of different races, religions, nationalities, and views can cooperate and give for others nothing more or less than pleasure