• Graveyard Shift

There's An International Clown Hall Of Fame In Wisconsin To Trigger Your Coulrophobia

If you ever find yourself in Baraboo, WI, you may want to steer clear of the attractions if you have coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. The International Clown Hall of Fame in Baraboo, WI, exists to honor those clowns who "left indelible marks on the hearts, funny bones," and fragile psyches of the people of the world.

The history of Baraboo, WI includes all sorts of famous clowns and circus figures, making it an ideal home for clowning history and your deep-seated fears. Baraboo's circus history proudly shows through its many attractions, including Circus World, the Big Top Parade, and Al Ringling's Mansion, and they rank among the best sites to see in the state.

But if you also like creepy Wisconsin content, Baraboo's clown attractions and circus-themed events might just fall under your own big top of interests, though Baraboo would never say that. In the town's defense, Baraboo's International Clown Hall of Fame just wants to celebrate clown culture that doesn't circle around juggalos or Stephen King novels. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the roads of Baraboo is lined with creepy clowns and the occasional elephant. Maybe stick to cheese when you're in Wisconsin.

  • Circus World Exists Nearby

    Photo: Jason Mrachina / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    If the Clown Hall of Fame sounds like too much Baraboo, Circus World offers a bit of relief, though not much (they don't serve food during the spring/fall months). Some call the 64-acre Circus World a "Wisconsin National Treasure," a claim that tells you a lot about the state's treasures. To give you an idea of said treasure's aesthetic, Circus World's main big top, the Hippodrome, recalls Circus Gothica from Danny Phantom and looks ready to engulf an audience into a game of Saw.

  • The Hall Of Fame Houses The Largest Collection Of Clown Artifacts

    Video: YouTube

    The Clown Hall of Fame boasts the largest number of clown artifacts in the world, likely because no one else wants all that clown memorabilia in any home that isn't used for haunting. Some of the artifacts viewable at the hall of fame include Chester "Bobo" Barnett's clown car and costumes from Edwin "Poodles" Hanneford. To be fair, old props won't hurt you, but it does unsettle the mind to know these belonged to what is now a dead clown.

  • The Ringling Brothers Brought Clowning To Baraboo

    Photo: Madam Ada Castello and Jupiter/Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    So how does the premier clown museum end up in the state of Wisconsin? It all started with a group of siblings named Alf, Al, Charles, Otto, and John - more famously known as the Ringling brothers. In 1882, the brothers began performing vaudeville shows that featured only a hyena and a modest crowd of 400 attendees. Their start in Wisconsin led the area to become associated with clowning and the circus alike, and the Ringling Bros. always returned to Baraboo in the off-season.

  • The Circus Parade Brings Your Nightmares To Life

    Photo: Dave / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Cities hold festivals for all sorts of events, holidays, and even foods, but celebrating clowns sounds like a hard sell. Nonetheless, Baraboo holds an annual Big Top Circus Parade with a lineup of 80+ performers, floats, and organizations, 10 of which include clowns. Instead of filling your dreams, your nightmares are embraced by the streets in the name of "celebration." Now you know how your dog feels in July.