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With Travel Down, Circus Business is Up: Feld CEO

The greatest show on earth begins its 24-show run at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment and producer of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, shares how the circus has fared in this economy with CNBC.

"Our business has been up," Feld said. "A lot of it has to do with people not traveling the way they were. We bring the entertainment to everyone's backyard in America."

With three touring companies putting on 1,300 performances a year, the 140 year-old show has managed to keep things up and running with concession and merchandise revenues. This allows the business to keep ticket prices affordable.

According to Feld, however, a big difference has been in the ticket buying pattern.

"People are buying lighter," Feld said. "Advance sales is never what they were, but the walk-up is unbelievable." These days, each show sells two to four thousand tickets in last minute purchases.

Despite high overheads—a mile-long train, over 100 pounds of hay each day for elephants—the legacy behind Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey has arenas around the nation built ready to host this traveling group of entertainers.