Thursday, September 13, 2012

Circus Capital of the World

Have you ever been to the circus?  Well, you've never been to a circus quite like this. 

This is Peru, Indiana about 100 years ago.  The town became known as the Circus Capital of the World, because all of the traveling circuses that were so popular at the time around the country used to stay in the area during the off season.  Every show including the greatest show on Earth spent some time in this little burg that to this day only has about 11,000 people in it.  
Since the heyday of the circuses, lots of things have changed, but Peru still holds on to its Circus heritage.


                  This is one of the exhibits at the Circus City Museum.  This place has exhibits going back to the heyday of the circus and celebrates everything circus.  There's stuff in there about Emmett Kelley and Ringling Brothers.  It's quite a treat.
This is a calliope from Dave Morecraft's Manufacturing and Restoration.  That's right, if you need a calliope for your circus or other attraction, they're probably the place to look.  It goes right along with the circus theme that exists in Peru.

But that's not all.  For two weeks in later July every year, you can go to the permanent circus building in Peru and see a show like no other.  The circus is in town, and like nowhere else on Earth, the performers are volunteers between the ages of 7 and 21.  The kids train all summer in camp with the help of highly trained coaches to put on this circus during the Circus Festival in July.  They do it all from clowning around to being the MC to flying on the trapeze.  You'll be amazed at what you see.
I certainly know I always was.  And it doesn't necessarily stop there.  Some of the kids go on a road show and some kids actually end up joining a real circus.  It's amazing what can come of it all.  Not to mention for the rest of us, they are always looking for volunteers to make costumes and many other things that are needed by the circus.  If you like and have the time, you can help out with the show.
Peru is a small town in the center of the state North of Indianapolis by about an hour.  The circus and the wonderful festival that goes along with it are a great side trip when in the area during July, and if you like to be scared you can come back in October for the Ringmaster's Revenge, the haunted house that the Circus Hall of Fame puts on for Halloween.
So, step outside that normal view of the circus, and come to Peru Indiana and see what the kids can do.
And by the way, if you're in the area, the old Grissom Air Force Base has been turned into an air museum, and is also a really cool thing to visit.  Another great area to go to is Mississinewa Dam and Reservoir, where the lake is large, the camping is great and the boating is positively to die for.


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