Showman’s Rest: The circus cemetery

A tribute to all showmen under God's big top.

Hugo, Oklahoma is a city just over 10 miles north of the Red River that separates Texas and Oklahoma. And though the city’s population sits just above 5,000, there’s one landmark that brings thousands of tourists into the city each year: Showman’s Rest. Why? Because it’s a circus cemetery.

Showman's Rest

 

Showman's Rest Hugo was nicknamed ‘Circus City, USA’ in the 1940’s after the Kelly-Miller Brothers Circus decided to spend their winter months off in the town. Throughout the years, other circuses followed, at one point there were 9 circus crews spending their winter in Hugo at once.

The circus crews knew that whey their time came, they wanted a special place to rest. So that’s where the idea of Showman’s Rest started.

Mount Olivet Cemetery has always been a well-maintained, and pride point for the community, so it was a natural fit for Showman’s Rest.

Today, Showman’s Rest is a small section of the cemetery, marked by granite posts topped with elephant statues. Inside the area lie people from all aspects of the circus, from performers to book keepers to truck drivers and everything in between.

Showman's Rest

Showman's Rest

 

Almost every headstone is adorned with a special phrase, or engraved with pictures relating to the person’s relationship with the circus.

This circus cemetery is also the final resting place of Lane Frost, a famous American bull rider, Freckles Brown, a world champion bull rider, William Edmond “Buster Brown” Ansley, the small man who played the part of Buster Brown for 28 years, and Max Bryan ‘Turk’ Robinson, the original Marlboro Man.

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