To witness a performance by a travelling circus was a memorable event, and not an uncommon site. Circus' would often perform at larger towns outside Adelaide such as Gawler, but on occasion would stop at smaller townships such as Smithfield and Virginia.
In September 1865, Ashton's circus performed at Smithfield. On this occasion they were at full strength, and performed to a full house.
In February 1879, Ashton's circus stopped at Virginia, performing not to a full house this time. The township had a visit from the eminent Charles Dooner a few days previously, who showed his ‘Pantecnatheca’ (lantern show). Unlike some touring magic lantern shows, Charles Dooner stopped at many small places that, in the 1860s, could barely justify the title of township, and in most cases he set up his lanterns in the only suitable building, the local schoolroom.
On Tuesday evening in January 1862, Burton's circus enlivened the small township of Virginia, drawing up to 400 people to witness the performance.