YOUR BIG TOP TOUR HOSTS
TOBY CIRCUS BALLANTINE
The host and raconteur on your Sarasota Big Top Tour is none other than Toby Circus Ballantine, a life-long member of the international circus community. Toby is eager to point out that his middle name is, indeed, "Circus," literally and figuratively! His mother was a circus star, and his father was a clown with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. As a matter of fact, his father, Bill Ballantine, was Dean of Clown College, established in 1970, at the historic circus winter quarters in Venice, Florida. The elder Ballantine's professional credentials include critically-acclaimed author and artist.
So, as they say on the circus lot, Toby had "sawdust in his shoes" from the start, and it was no surprise that he chose to become a clown; his character is that of a brash, self-aggrandizing bumbler. Early in his career he was a featured stilt walker, juggler and gag clown with the The Greatest Show on Earth®. What he didn't learn from his father, he mastered in years of touring with a variety of circuses: small "mud" shows, high grass and fairground shows, one ring European-style circuses, and three ring extravaganzas. What's more, he is a master clown in his own right and has been a "Clown to Celebrities" by performing at birthday parties for such stars as Eddie Murphy, Bob Hope and Paul Newman. In recent years, Toby's face has become a familiar presence at public events and private functions here in southwest Florida where he is a popular entertainer, clown and magician.
Toby, however, is more than a showman: he is a knowledgeable speaker on circus history and culture. When not performing or conducting a Big Top Tour, you might find him "out of character" working in the history archives of The Ringing Museum or speaking to a local group about circus history in Sarasota.
It is his very colorful life and career that enlightens and enlivens your experience when you take a Big Top Tour. You'll see Sarasota from a completely new perspective: through the eyes of Toby Circus Ballantine.
For additional information on Toby Circus Ballantine, be sure to visit his website: www.tobycircus.com.
His lifelong love affair with Sarasota (and the circus!) began in 1950 when Bob Collins' parents first visited the area on vacation. At the time the Collins family, from Shaker Heights, Ohio, stayed for two months in a motel owned by circus stars. They made the trip to Sarasota annually for the next decade, and along the way they met many other performers at restaurants, in stores, and at the legendary winter quarters of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Years later, after earning two college degrees in communications from Northwestern University and American University, Collins embarked on a unique show business career inspired by his childhood memories of Sarasota and the circus. For more than 35 years he traveled throughout North America as a marketing executive with such shows as Ice Capades, Cole Brothers Circus, World Wrestling Entertainment, and, of course, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Following his 2008 retirement, Collins moved "home" to Sarasota, and enjoyed five years as a board member of Circus Sarasota, where he served two years as chairman. He is currently active on the board and the planning committee for the Event and Arena Marketing Conference. Meanwhile, combining his love of travel, his knowledge of the circus and his familiarity with Sarasota, Bob Collins launched Big Top Tours in 2010, to share his connection with the circus, and give visitors and residents, alike, the opportunity to enjoy the sites (and sights) that have made Sarasota "America's Circus City."
FOR GROUP TOUR AND LECTURE INFORMATION,
CALL BOB COLLINS @ 941.966.1226 OR SEND AN E-MAIL INQUIRY TO BOBCOLLINS@OUTLOOK.COM