"Ain’t you going to help me find that quarter so I can go to the show tonight."

Newmann's Road Show
Creative Commons AttributionNewmann's Road Show - Credit: Library of Congress
The arrival of travelling shows was a hotly anticipated event in the South. Rolling into town in brightly-painted wagons amidst a parade of jugglers and acrobats, their appearance heralded a time of license during which the restrictions of daily life were loosened and, perhaps, temporarily forgotten. Tent shows were particularly popular in the rural South. Less flashy than their northern counterparts, they served to showcase a variety of popular singers, blues musicians, novelty acts and theatrical performers. They were at the height of their popularity during the 1920s and would attract around 75 million people across the US annually. Only thirty years later, the combined effects of the Great Depression and the advent of television and radio had all but wiped them out.