The Beacon Herald expounded about country residents setting aside plows to go to town, "drawn irresistibly by the aggregated wonders which the greatest showman of the time presents under canvas." All roads were reportedly filled with conveyances headed for Stratford. The weather was fine and excitement was high. On Sunday, crowds hung around watching the tents being pitched, alongside preparation of meals for the army of employees.
Dense crowds lined sidewalks along the procession route. At 10 0'clock the "Free Street Parade" appeared from Queen's Park, moved along the main streets and returned to the starting point. Included were a bandwagon drawn by eight horses, three open cages of big cats along with trainers, a procession of elephants, camels, small ponies and a steam organ. A new feature, a bell-ringing instrument manipulated from a keyboard was "unless our ears are mistaken, yet capable of much improvement."
The parade was advertised to start at 8 a.m. Having arrived in town at 4 a.m., perhaps everyone needed a short respite before the spectacle commenced. five performances were scheduled with reserved seats available at the Beacon office for an unspecified fee. Not every newspaper gave rousing accounts of the performances. The Listowel Standard of Sept. 16, 1887 commented "we think on this occasion a great many expected to see a great deal more than they did, and were consequently disappointed." Attendance was estimated by the Standard to have been upwards of 20,000 people. Perhaps the Stratford papers got it right after all.
Circuses were the rock concerts of the 1800s. These spectacles continued to fascinate all ages well into the 20th century until the allure of strange and outlandish attractions faded.