Every year in Peru, IN, approximately 200 young people, ages 7 to 21, present 10 circus performances during an eight day festival in mid-July. Kiddie, Junior, Adult Clowns, the ‘Best Circus Band in All the Land, and a huge number of volunteers, join together to support these talented performers.
Their sparkling smiles are only eclipsed by the shine of their sequin-clad costumes. The level of skill belies the fact that they are amateurs. In fact, several performers have gone on to perform with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey, Shrine Circuses and other professional venues.
In addition, performers have competed in the Premiere Rampe, an international circus competition held annually in Monte Carlo. Their prestigious performance awards are proudly on display in the circus building.
In 1960, the Circus City Festival Inc. (CCFI) was formed with the objective of reawakening the area’s rich circus heritage. Dating back to the late 1800s, many of the country’s most famous circuses over-wintered a few miles southeast of Peru. That area is now home to the famous International Circus Hall of Fame.
Performances were held in a tent until 1968 when the show moved inside the permanent three-ring building near the center of town. The popular circus museum, ticket and general offices, and souvenir shop are also located in the building.
In 1973, the CCFI’s board of directors established a scholarship fund to assist performers with their college careers. Since the inception of this program, the circus has awarded 898 scholarships totaling more than $440,000.
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