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Ringmaster Named Grand Marshal Of Big Top Parade

Ringmaster named Grand Marshal of Big Top Parade

A Circus World icon will lead the Big Top Parade back onto the streets of downtown Baraboo on June 25 as Grand Marshal.

Dave Saloutos, Circus World’s longtime singing ringmaster, will headline the parade as it returns from a two-year absence.

“We are so excited to bring back the parade this summer,” said Nanci Caflisch, co-chair of the Big Top Parade and Circus Celebration’s planning committee. “Who better to choose as our Grand Marshal than someone who is synonymous with Circus World and the parade?”

Saloutos was born for the job, as he entered the world in the former Ringling home that then served as Baraboo’s hospital. He grew up staging neighborhood circus parades and performances, and by 15 was playing the Al. Ringling Theatre’s mighty Barton organ.

In 1978 he first donned the red ringmaster coat at Circus World. He returned to the state historic site in 1985, becoming its first singing ringmaster five years later. Saloutos’ polished showmanship and powerful baritone have dazzled an estimated 5 million spectators. This summer will mark his last performing under the big top, although he will retain his duties as Circus World’s Performance Director and marketing guru.

“I love a parade, always have,” Saloutos said. “I’m honored and humbled to serve as Grand Marshal.”

Dave Saloutos (center) poses with performers during the staging of the 2019 Big Top Parade.

Stepping off at 11 a.m. on June 25, the parade will anchor a weekend-long Circus Celebration featuring movies at the theatre, trolley tours of historic circus sites and live music on Baraboo’s downtown square.

Dozens of marching bands, entertainers, community organizations and local businesses already have applied to take part in this year’s parade.

“We’ve been thrilled with the response,” said George Althoff, Executive Director of the Baraboo Area Chamber of Commerce. His organization works with Circus World and a volunteer committee to present the parade. “The circus community clearly is ready for the parade’s return. We’re optimistic all the circus fans out there are ready, too!”

Saloutos knows circus parades inside and out. Directing the Great Circus Train and Parade in Milwaukee is one of many tasks Saloutos has tackled over the years, in addition to his ringmaster duties.

“Dave’s many talents are integral to everything we do at Circus World,” said Scott O’Donnell, the museum’s Executive Director. “It will be superb to see him get his due this summer.”

The parade was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Last summer, a Circus Celebration was held at locations throughout the Baraboo Area.

For updates on the Big Top Parade and Circus Celebration, visit

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