Dan Rice Tent is the Erie chapter of…….

The Circus Saints and Sinner Club of America

The Circus Saints & Sinners Club of America is a charitable organization that got its’ start back in the late 1920’s. A writer for the New York World (later to become the New York Times), who covered circuses at Madison Square Garden, came upon an overworked 78-year-old wagon driver sprawled out on a bed of hay. He was too tired and weak to move. The writer, F. Darius (Freddy) Benham, asked him “Why don’t you quit?” There is no place for old circus folk to go was the sad reply. This was the inspiration for the start of Circus Fans Association which later became the CS&SCA. Freddie Benham became the national president. This group provided financial assistance to old and down trodden circus performers. With the lack of circus performers in need in recent decades, the club evolved into a modern non-profit philanthropic organization benefiting a wide variety of charities over the years.

Dan Rice Tent got its’ start in Erie Pennsylvania in 1988 when under the sponsorship of Bob Prince Tent the organization was incorporated. Dan Rice was an American entertainer of many talents, most famously as a clown, who was pre-eminent before the American Civil War. Rice changed the circus into what it is today by mixing animals, acrobats and clowns. Dan Rice’s Circus Wintered over in Girard Pennsylvania from 1852 to 1875, which was only about 25 miles west of Erie.

One other interesting fact about our name sake, he was also one of the main models for “Uncle Sam”. If you’re looking for some good reading, you might like to pick up a copy of David Carlyon’s (2001). Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of.

 Our noble purpose as stated in our by-laws are the same as was setup by Freddy Benham,

  • To provide voluntary aid and assistance to the members of circus profession who need assistance, in case of age, infirmity, misfortune or distress.
  • To contribute to any lawful charitable organization and for any lawful charitable purpose.
  • To hold meetings and other gatherings for the better realization of the above purposes.

Like the early days of CS&SA we try to accomplish our mission effectively but quietly. No fanfare needs to accompany  these kind of deeds.