Windjammers Unlimited is the brain child of Charles Bennett Jr. (WJU #001) and Art Stensvad (WJU #002) both lovers of circus music. They were seeking other music soul mates, dedicated to the traditional music of the “Big Top.” The thriving organization of today, originally organized in 1971, is the result of their dream.
The first performance of Windjammers with the Sailor Circus in Sarasota coincided with the WJU annual convention in 1986 and has continued uninterrupted since that date. In 2020, WJU continued its annual tradition and presented a financial contribution to the Sailor Circus Academy at the Circus Arts Conservancy to support their educational mission. The success of these joint performances is attested to by the fact that most of the tickets for the public are gone two weeks before the performance date.
Windjammers has had its share of famous bandsmen who have all aided in making the organization what it is today. Merle Evans, director of the Ringling Bros. – Barnum & Bailey Show for over 50 years. He introduced Windjammers to his wide circle of friends, supported us in every way and established our contact with the Sailor Circus. Among the individuals who became members through Merle’s urgings were Paul Yoder, Leonard Smith, Ken Slater, John McDonald, Bob Bamhouse, Charles Payne, Earl Slocum, and many others. All of these people are musical notables within the history of circus music and have become icons of our preservation and education activities. Merle Evans gave the group the boost that it needed to become a recognized musical society.
Windjammers Unlimited has matured into The Circus Music Historical Society, supporting the three pillars of our mission: Preservation, Education and Performance. We welcome both playing musicians and non-players into our Membership ranks. Consider joining us today as an active member and contribute your skills to our mission.