The Big (Top) 4-0: The Royal Hanneford Circus Returns To The Westchester County Center

Just in time for Presidents’ Day, one of the best-known circuses around continues a tradition decades in the making.

Like it has for the last 39 years, the Royal Hanneford Circus will roll into the Westchester County Center for its 40th annual show on Presidents’ Day weekend. 

When Ringmaster Billy Martin first joined the Hanneford Circus 20 years ago, circus royalty Tommy and Gertrude ‘Struppi’ Hanneford graced the stage with their legendary comedic horseback and aerial acts. “The show was old-fashioned,” says Martin. “We only had about a dozen acts and the productions were much smaller than they are today.” 

This year, the show kicks off with a (literal) bang with special guest star the Human Cannon Ball. Following are productions featuring a company of 40 performers and 20 animals, making it the largest the circus has ever seen—a striking difference from the circus’ humble roots. 

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Though Martin describes this year’s show as “traditionally modern,” the entire show has been revamped for this milestone year, and will feature 18 acts that Martin says are “set to fast, live music and all-new lighting to make it even more exciting.” Other more traditional acts include high-speed motorcyclists circling inside of a globe. 

Martin says performing in Westchester is different than anywhere else. “As one of our longest-running engagements, the County Center holds a special place in all of our hearts. It is one of the most unique buildings to transform on tour because audience members are so close they can smell the elephants and see the performers sweat right from their seats. They themselves become a part of the show.” 

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