Women’s Club trip to Hugo, Oklahoma

Ann Madigan and Barbara Cummins

On Thursday, April 26, 40 Robson Ranch Women’s Club members boarded a sleek black bus and departed for a day to Hugo, Oklahoma. In years past, more than 22 circuses have wintered in this small town. Known as Circus City, USA it is currently winter headquarters for two circuses.

At the Showman’s Rest section of the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, the group viewed the headstones which were designed to show the personality and trade of each person. A speaker shared colorful stories behind the ornate headstones of circus performers, ringmasters, elephant trainer and clowns. The cemetery is also the final resting pace of Buster Brown, The Marlboro Man and other professional Rodeo cowboys.

On the way to lunch at Roma Italian Restaurant, the group made a brief visit to the Frisco Depot Museum, which houses local and country artifacts, a miniature railroad, and a five-ring circus, as well as a fully restored Harvey House Restaurant. There was even a former “Harvey Girl” on the Women’s Club trip!

Nearby is the Endangered Ark Foundation, a non-profit providing a retirement ranch for circus elephants and providing public education for the Asian elephant in North America. ARK houses the second largest herd of Asian elephants in North America and remains a winter home to circus elephants still performing. At the elephant barn, a live presentation about elephant care and circus history was given.

Group members then headed out to feed the elephants, passing the resident mammals in their pens. Marveling at elephants, posing for pictures, touching elephant trunks, group members finished a memorable day.

For grandchildren, the Circus City Diner in downtown Hugo is colorfully decorated with circus memorabilia. In addition, for adults, there is a Choctaw casino just outside the city.