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The Hanneford Circus

Celebrating 50 Years of Concerts at the WVU Coliseum
April 12, 1979

The Hanneford Circus

The Hanneford Circus superimposed over various shots of circus attractions including acrobats and elephants
print ad used to advertise the 1979 Hanneford Circus

SHOW DATE: Thursday, April 12, 1979 • 4:30pm & 8:30pm
The famed Hanneford Circus was born in 1690 with Irish-born Michael Hanneford who toured the dusty roads of rural England with Wombwell’s Menagerie, the first show of its kind in the British Isles. Each day the athletic Michael put on a display of horsemanship that included dancing and leaping upon the bare back of a galloping horse. Word spread about the multi-talented performer so that he was invited to attend a contest before King George III to determine who was the greatest juggler in England. He not only juggled off with the Grand Prize, but made his mark in circus lore by having presented the first of the Hanneford Royal Command Performances, a tradition of honor that has been repeated by each succeeding generation since then.

It may seem a bit difficult to imagine a circus inside the WVU Coliseum, but the Hanneford Circus performed exclusively in indoor arenas so when they rolled into town for two shows under the big top in 1979, those "big tops" were placed inside under the Coliseum dome. The basketball floor was covered with a protective layer of wood as well as a canvas mat, and the horses wore special rubber shoes to keep them from slipping and to protect the arena floors and walkways. Indoor/outdoor carpeting was also placed around the periphery of the performance rings.

The two performances were well-received by both young and old.
a pink circus ticket issued for the 1979 8:30pm performance of the Hanneford Circus