Each yea approximately 200 young people ages 7 to 21, supported by a tremendous number of adult volunteers present 10 performances during and eight day period in mid July. Also participating are Kiddie, Junior, and Adult Clowns, and a 50-piece Circus Band playing traditional and modern selections.Beautifully costumed performers are so skilled that circus fans find it difficult to believe that they are amateurs. In fact, several performers after completing their education, have gone on to perform with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Shrine Circuses and other professional shows. In addition, our performers have competed in the Permiere Rampe, an international circus competition held annually each January in Monte Carlo. Each year they have received prestigious performance awards, proudly on display in the Circus Building.
CCFI was formed in 1960 with the objective of reawakening our rich Circus Heritage. Dating back to the late 1800s, many of the country’s most famous circuses winter-quartered only a few miles southeast of Peru. That area is now home to the famous International Circus Hall of Fame.
CCFI’s shows were in a tent until 1968 when they moved inside our permanent three-ring building near the center of town. The popular Circus Museum, Ticket and General Offices, and Souvenir Shop are also in the Circus Building. In 1973, the Festival’s 18 member Board of Directors established a Scholarship Fund to assist performers with their college careers. Since the inception of the scholarship program, the circus has awarded 898 scholarships equalling $440,000 up through 2011. Proceeds from shows on the first Saturday of the Festival go into the Scholarship Fund.