Music. Magic. Mirth.
That was the hallmark of Professor Farquar’s Great American Medicine Show, which made a stop on Sunday at the Powers Museum to wrap up the Maple Leaf festivities.
“Step right up folks, the greatest one-man show west of the Mississippi is about to begin. It’s a bona fide jim-dandy; and absolutely, positively guaranteed to purge melancholy!” these were the words of Sanford Lee, of Concordia Mo., who has recreated a nineteenth century medicine show as Professor Farquar, and his assistant, Polecat Annie.
The pair host a scripted, hour long show that includes magic tricks, the selling of old time elixirs, and American folk music. He can perform over one hundred songs and has released two albums. He credits his success and characterization to a “…love for American history.”
Lee and his medicine show have been on the road together for twenty-six years, and currently perform in numerous mid-western states, and have performed at the Missouri State Fair for the past several years.
Malachi Housh, of Carthage, was picked by Farquar to participate in a disappearing silk cloth magic trick, “I thought he had magically put the cloth in my arm when I wasn’t looking, I still don’t know how he did it.” The oohs and ahs didn’t stop there for Housh, the highlight of the show was when Farquar magically “cut” himself with a butcher knife, “It was so cool, I hope he didn’t get hurt!” said Housh.
History of Medicine Shows
In rural America, one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the 19th Century was the medicine show, it was a unique combination of magic, music and demagoguery. Although it is often thought of as American folklore, its roots can be traced back to the "mountebank and zany shows" that flourished throughout medieval Europe.
Carthage has a rich history with famous medicine shows, Thomas Sayman or “Doc” came to Carthage as a medicine man who used music, magic tricks, money, and jokes to sell soaps, elixirs, and flavorings to the people. Sayman left Carthage in 1894 to move to St. Louis and later bought and donated the Roaring River State Park to the state of Missouri in 1928. “(Sayman) was a real character,” said Michele Hansford, director of the Powers Museum.
For more information about the history or to contact Sanford Lee and his Great American Medicine Show visit his website at www.sanfordlee.com.