PERU, Ind. (WLFI) - The circus has been a part of Peru's history for more than 100 years. In fact, back in the 1920s and '30s, major circus companies would spend their winter break here.
"A lot of those people, even after the circuses moved on and Ringling Bros. bought them out, their families stayed here," explained Sandy Ploss.
Ploss is not only the executive secretary for the circus, she's a former board member, circus performer and the great-granddaughter of a world famous animal trainer. Her story is one of many. Daughters, sons, grandchildren even great-grandchildren of famous performers call Miami County home to this very day. The flying trapeze, the tight rope, the clowns and even the unicycle: it's in their blood.
With that history of talent, the Peru Amateur Circus was born.
"[The] Peru Circus has been here for 54 years. It is an amateur circus of Miami County kids. You have to live and go to school in Miami County," said Circus Producer Mark Hall.
It may be called an "amateur circus" but there's nothing amateur about the tricks these kids are trained to do. They try out in March and from then on, it's practice, practice, practice. They rehearse every week until circus time.
Hall said often you'll see the performers eating dinner on the bleachers and doing homework on their breaks from rehearsing their acts.
Eric Craft is one of the flying trapeze trainers. Once a circus kid himself, he went on to perform the flying trapeze professionally. Now, he's back to where he began and training current young performers.
He said audiences will be impressed come show time with what they see here.
"Somebody that's never seen just some random kid flying 22 some feet up in the air. It's indescribable," Craft said.
The Peru Amateur Circus is all-volunteer. The blood, the sweat, even a few injuries - it's all for the love of performing. There's no salary, no payment, other than the roar of the crowd.
"We have an executive secretary that is paid, everyone else is volunteer. We pretty much take the town over for 10 days in July and the community's great. Without them, we couldn't do it. Everybody pitches in. You count all the volunteers, it's well in the thousands, said Hall.
From a winter home for traveling circuses to the current home of young performers aspiring to reach new heights, the "big top" is old lumber yard, now the circus' permanent home. Also there, you'll find a museum taking you through the history of the circus.
If you and your family are interested in seeing the show, the 2013 Peru Amateur Circus runs July 13-20. As they say: "Come to the circus and may all your days be circus days!"
Tickets are on sale and can be purchased through the Circus City Festival, Inc., website.
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