Showmen’s West is a cool spot you’re not likely to find unless you read a lot of those “Strange Illinois” books or websites. It’s a section of Woodlawn Cemetery marked off by four elephant statues commemorating a 1918 trainwreck where 50-60 employees of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus were killed. The circus was based in Hammond Indiana and the train was leaving from Detroit, but they all ended up in Forest Park because 750 plots had recently been purchased by The Showmen’s League of America (at the time run by Buffalo Bill Cody, who gets no small amount of local love for rocking the everloving shit out of the 1893 World’s Fair). Apparently, among the wreckage were a strongman act named The Great Dierckx Brothers, Jennie Ward Todd of “The Flying Wards”, and several people who were never identified.
So what better spot to hold the Illinois celebration for the annual International Clown Week than Showmens’ Rest? The event featured a number of clowns, magicians, jugglers, contortionists, children and assorted circus folk cavorting and capering and eating carnival food on the cemetery lawn. Scroll down to see the full set of pictures from the night. Right click any image to download
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