This one was a hangout for some of the men in a local volunteer fire brigade: The Hook & Ladder Firefighting Company. [...]
No one seems to agree on exactly how the fight at the brothel got started. Some blame a particularly loudmouthed clown. Some say the clowns cut in line -- or knocked the hat off a fireman's head. But this much is clear: that night, the clowns kicked some firefighting ass. At least two of the firemen were seriously injury, dragged out of the brothel to safety as the Hook & Ladder crew retreated. For the rest of the night, the clowns could drink and screw in peace. [...]
By the time they got there, it had started. People were throwing stones. And while the circus performers and the carnies were apparently able to hold the mob off for a while, it couldn't last. Eventually, the crowd overwhelmed them. And when the Hook & Ladders arrived, all hell broke loose. They stormed the circus with pikes and axes, overturned wagons, pulled down the tents and the Big Top and set them on fire. They beat clowns to a pulp. Circus folk ran for their lives. Some dove into the lake for safety. It was mayhem.
It took the mayor to settle things down. He came to the Fair Green in person, kept a fireman from killing a clown with an axe by grabbing it out of his hands, and called in the militia to take control of the situation. Once things had calmed down, the circus performers came back for their belongings and then ran like hell.
The police had done pretty much nothing. They just watched. Even Chief Sherwood himself had eventually shown up, but could only claim to have stopped the rioters from setting fire to the cages of the animals. Of the 17 people who were charged in the riot, only one was ever convicted. All of the police who were at the scene claimed they couldn't remember any of the Orangemen who had been there. Just like they had a few weeks earlier, after the Fireman's Riot on Church.
It seems the clowns picked the wrong brothel.