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Showman can have a variety of meanings, usually by context and depending on the country.
Travelling showmen are people who run amusement and side show equipment at regional shows, state capital shows, events and festivals throughout Australia. In the past, it has also been used for the people who organized freak shows, sideshows, circuses, travelling theatre troupes and boxing tents.
In Australia, there are around 500 travelling show families, Australian travelling show families in the Eastern states have a travelling School that has approximately 90 children.
Family names associated with funfairs in Ireland include Cassells, Cullen, McFadden, Bird, Perks and Bell. Turbetts, Hudsons, McCormacks, McGurk, Wilmots and Grahams are associated with coastal amusements, particularly in the west of the country.
In the United Kingdom, Show Travellers are families involved with funfairs and circuses. The Showmen's Guild of Great Britain is the most dominant trade association, with a membership of around 4,700. For example, the Guild co-organizes St Giles' Fair in Oxford with Oxford City Council each September. The Association of Independent Showmen and Society of Independent Roundabout Proprietors are just two more trade associations.
Due to travelling, the majority of British Showmen have English, Scottish, Welsh and/or Irish heritage.
Many also have Romani heritage and/or Irish Traveller heritage, but despite this Showmen developed as group separately to both Romanichal Travellers and Irish Travellers.
Due to Showmen being an insular group, most marriages happening within the community, having their own language (Paylaree), having their own traditions and most having lineage of generations as Showmen, Showmen are viewed as and self identify as a cultural group. They are not recognised as an ethnic group though due to Showmen being more of an occupation than an ethnicity, also as the group has drawn upon many other ethnicities and since many families have and are joining and leaving the group, it cannot be considered an ethnicity.
The term showman or show people, can also be meant as a superlative or complimentary term, sometimes as an accolade or quasi-title, such as in the documentary name Harry Saltzman: Showman.
- "Irish Arks and Waltzers Part 1 - 1990 to Present Day". The University of Sheffield – National Fairground Archive. Archived from the original on 2011-12-22. Retrieved 01-06-2012. Check date values in:
- Showmen's Guild of Great Britain Central Office.
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