Delavan, with a population of over 11,000 serves as the focal point for thousands of visitors to the area. It is a clean, friendly place, located in a region of sparkling lakes and rolling Wisconsin farmland. Rustic roads wind through the countryside past ducks and Canadian geese, delicate wildflowers, stately trees and quiet pastures. Delavan is surprisingly different, with a unique circus history, outstanding recreational and educational facilities, prosperous agricultural, commercial and industrial firms. Delavan exhibits a cosmopolitan and metropolitan flavor seldom found in smaller cities.
On January 2, 1838, the town of Delavan was formed. This region steadily grew around the settlements that are now the towns of Darien, Sharon, Walworth and the present town of Delavan.
Brothers and explorers, Henry Phoenix and Col. Samuel F. Phoenix found the lush green hillsides, ample water supply from Delavan Lake, and the rich surrounding soil were perfect for their needs.
Delavan has a storied history steeped in circus myths and legends. By the middle of the 19th century, the nation was continuing its west-ward expansion, bringing circuses from the east to the young territories in the upper Mississippi Valley.
In 1847, Edmund and Jeremiah Mabie, proprietors of the U.S. Olympic Circus, then the largest traveling show in America, chose Delavan for their winter quarters, a year before Wisconsin attained statehood and 24 years before the Ringling Brothers raised their first tents in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
The Delavan circus era ended in 1894 when the E.G. Holland Railroad Circus folded its tents. Today, more that 250 member of the old circus colony are buried in Spring Grove and St. Andrew's cemeteries.
Downtown streets are made of brick and continued restoration ensure that Delavan will retain much of its 19th century look and charm.
Visitor Information Center
2375 E. Geneva Street
Delavan, WI 53115
Mon: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Tue: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Wed: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Thu: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Fri: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Sat: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Sun: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Read the official "Lake Geneva Area & Beyond" blog!
Receive our monthly Newsletter featuring Walworth County's events, attractions and news.