The first weekend of November is a bittersweet time for people of a certain ilk. For the last few years of its existence, this was the time of the Sideshow Gathering at The Woodlands Inn & Resort in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania - an annual event that brought together sideshow performers, exhibitors, showmen, collectors, and fans of all sorts for three days of performances, presentations, and fun.
That's over now. Franco Kossa, the driving force behind the Gathering, died in 2011. One more Gathering was held the following year, but it was hampered both by his absence and by the damage and destruction from Superstorm Sandy, which scored a direct hit on Coney Island, home base of many of the performers and exhibitors. Other gatherings have been held elsewhere - most notably the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny in New Orleans, an annual event since 2015 - but the unique charm of the Sideshow Gathering is no more.
So it goes. And the show goes on, because it must.
One of the regulars and stalwarts of the Sideshow Gathering was James Taylor - not the singer/songwriter, but the sideshow exhibitor, historian, preservationist, and creator of the Shocked and Amazed! series. Each volume of this very irregularly published series is packed with interviews, articles, and photographs, both of historical subjects and current performers - at least, current at the time of writing. (It was a disorienting experience to read five- and ten-year-old interviews with people I had just been talking to a few days before, who had changed and grown tremendously in the intervening years.)