On Saturday, August 18, celebrate Mazomanie's railroad heritage at the sixth annual "Gandy Dancer Festival." There will be traditional music by five bands, as well as food and family entertainment. Admission is free!
Don't miss this day of fantastic fun for all ages.
On Sunday, August 19, come back to Mazomanie and "Celebrate the Circus." See an authentic circus parade, complete with horse-drawn wagons from Circus World Museum of Baraboo. Then, watch a real circus show under the big top recreating the first-ever public performance by the Ringling Brothers. Admission to the big-top show is only $10 for adults and $5 for children. It's the entertainment bargain of the summer!
It all takes place at the Promenade on Broadhead Street in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, just 30 minutes from Madison, Wisconsin, off Hwy 14.
"Gandy Dancer Festival" Schedule
Saturday, August 18, 2012, 11 am - 8 pm
Free admission all day!
Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society presents the sixth annual "Gandy Dancer Festival," a celebration of the railroad heritage of Mazomanie.
Emcee Bill C. Malone
11:00 am Art Stevenson & High Water (Bluegrass Gospel)
12:30 pm Avenue Sizzlers (Dixieland)
2:00 pm Art Stevenson & High Water (Traditional Bluegrass)
3:30 pm Harmonious Wail (Gypsy Swing & Jazz)
5:00 pm Special Guest Bill Staines (Country/Folk)
6:30 pm Claire Lynch Band (Bluegrass, Americana)
Emcee Christopher Powers
12:00 pm Christopher Powers (Music for Kids)
12:45 pm Open Sing-Along (Hosted by Wild Hog in the Woods Coffeehouse)
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Face Painting (by the Jolly Giants)
2:00 pm Christopher Powers (Music for Kids)
3:00 pm Meet the Headliner: Claire Lynch Band
3:45 pm Open Bluegrass Jam (Led by Art Stevenson & High Water)
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm Haywagon rides by Cornerstone Carriages
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm Mini-train rides by Cross Plains Lions Club
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm Junior History Detectives (ages 6 - 12) Register at Mazo Free Library
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Art Yard
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Juggling by Jacob Mills
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Stiltwalkers from Mazo Circus Camp
Gandy Dancer Demonstration by Dave Lee.
Hula Hoops outside Main Stage Tent.
Food and Beverage service by local organizations and businesses.
Farmers Market & Craft Vendors located along the commercial section of the village.
"Celebrate the Circus!" Schedule
Sunday, August 19, 2012, 11 am - 4:30 pm
Mazomanie Regional Heritage Foundation and Ringling Brothers' Classic & Comic Concert Company presents "Celebrate the Circus!" Relive the thrills and excitement of the early days of the circus with this 130th anniversary re-enactment of the Ringling Brothers' first show in Mazomanie.
11:00 am Old Time Horse Drawn Circus Parade
11:30 am Old Time Circus Side Show Performance
11:30 am Calliope Concert & Clown Performance (outdoor circus ring)
12:15 pm Circus Band Concert & Clown Performance (outdoor circus ring)
1:00 pm Under the Big Top
2:00 pm Old Time Circus Side Show Performance
2:00 pm Calliope Concert & Clown Performance (outdoor circus ring)
2:30 pm Circus Band Concert & Clown Performance (outdoor circus ring)
3:00 pm Under the Big Top
Enjoy the Old Time Horse Drawn Circus Parade featuring clowns, live music, stiltwalkers, jugglers, and horse drawn circus wagons. Two Performances under the Big Top tell the story of the young Ringling Brothers putting together their first professional show. The performance will feature appearances by their parents and associates, an actual re-enactment of part of their first show and will conclude with a surprise spectacular finale!
The Old Time Circus Side Show features Jim Maginnis as the side show barker, vintage circus displays, a fire eater, magician, comedy jugglers, Jargo the almost human giraffe and the world famous life-sized Amahl Puppets from Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, England
Celebrated Mazomanie Circus Concert Band will be giving open air concerts featuring vintage circus music from the library of the Circus World Museum. Enjoy old time Circus Calliope concerts featuring turn of the century tunes and clown performances in the outdoor circus ring. Circus concessions will be available throughout the day including sno-cones, cotton candy, popcorn, cold drinks and circus souvenirs for children of all ages!
Circus Ringmaster Jacob Mills will be your host for the celebration. Don't miss this exciting and affordable show. It's the family entertainment bargain of the summer!
$7 in advance
$10 at the door (adults/16 years and older)
$5 anytime for children (7-15) and seniors (60 and older)
Children 6 and under free
$25 family pass (up to 5 people), $3 per additional family member
Buy advance tickets now! Complete and submit the Paypal form and print a copy of your receipt to use when picking up tickets at will call. Get tickets now!To the Top
Thank You, Sponsors!
Thank you to the people, organizations and businesses that have helped to make the "Amazing Mazomanie" weekend possible. The "Gandy Dancer Festival" and "Celebrate the Circus!" are made possible through their generous support.
Gandy Dancer Festival Sponsors
Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society
Village of Mazomanie
Mazomanie Regional Heritage Foundation
Peoples Community Bank
Southern Wisconsin Bluegrass Music Association
Simply Folk on Wisconsin Public Radio
Madison Children's Museum
Wisconsin Heights Optimist Club
Sixth Annual Gandy Dancer Festival
Mazomanie's "Gandy Dancer Festival" has become a summer tradition celebrating the work and culture surrounding the great railways of America. The Mid-Continent Railway Museum hosts the annual gathering to bring recognition to the importance of the railway in the heritage of the area and to celebrate the original music created by the workers who labored to build those railways.
Celebrate the Circus!
New this year, "Celebrate the Circus!" brings the circus of yesteryear back to life. To celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Ringling Brothers' first performance in Mazomanie, the community will host a reenactment of that historic circus performance. Spectators will enjoy a real circus parade followed by two shows and other fun activities for the whole family.
What is a Gandy Dancer?
Before machines were used to lay the great railways of the United States, early railroad workers laid and maintained the tracks by hand through hard physical labor. These workers were referred to as "Gandy Dancers." Often recent immigrants or ethnic minorities, the community surrounding these workers evolved into a culture of songs and traditions that are celebrated and continued even today.
The term "Gandy Dancer" may have evolved from the 'dancing' movements of the workers as they moved down the rails laying the tracks. Often the lyrics of their songs and chants coincided with their movements as they swung tools and moved equipment. The rhythm that connected their movements and the songs was necessary to synchronize labor and to help boost morale. Using song to coordinate work led to many task-related work chants becoming synonymous with the gandy dancers.
Where the term "gandy" originated is an object of debate. Some historians believe that the hand crews used railroad tools manufactured by the Chicago-based Gandy Tool Company, but no official records of the company exist from the time. Another theory is that "gandy" evolved from the word 'gander' in reference to the bobbing heads of the workers as they labored.To the Top
Located just 20 minutes from Mazomanie, the charming community of Middleton offers a number of comfortable lodging options. Middleton's lodging properties are among the best in the region. Choose from seven hotels, each offering clean, well-appointed rooms and an excellent array of amenities. Find a list of Amazing Mazomanie lodging options.To the Top