The International Circus Hall of Fame located just outside Peru, Indiana in the former American Circus Corporation winter quarters is slowly bringing their 2008 season to a close. The International Circus Hall of Fame which is located beside the Wabash River was the home of Ben Wallace the originator of the Great Wallace Circus and eventually the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. "This was their 16th year in Peru and it was the best we ever had" stated Executive Director, Tom Dunwoody.
The Hall of Fame is involved in many different events throughout the year and the 5th annual Gala and Art Auction at the Eagles Club in downtown Peru, was once again a real winner. All the art work is created by local area artists and then donated with the proceeds going to help the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame once again sponsored a work week that allows any and all who want to come help, the opportunity to clean up the grounds, repaint wagons, restore, and visit with a huge group of Circus Fans, Model Builders, and Historians all enjoying the opportunity to participate on a volunteer basis. The old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey cage # 74 is next on the list of wagons to be restored to its former glory.
West Baden, Indiana was the home of Ed Ballard, one of the owners that bought the greatly enlarged Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus from Ben Wallace in 1913. His original home and the two show owned hotels downtown still survive even though the entire winter quarters no longer exists. With Bill Cook buying the two hotels and restoring them at the tune of $450 Million dollars, the West Baden area is re-developing their circus heritage. The International Hall of Fame was able to present a huge show there doing 15 performances in one week. The show included Brian Franzen with his tigers and elephants, his wife Irene Franzen and her Lady in the moon aerial act, the Alvarez family with their teeterboard act, single Trapeze act, and a hula hoop routine, Pat Kelly was the resident clown again this year and they added David Zoppe's dogs and Monkeys, The Juggling Kim Bros. and the Zachinni family's aerial acts.
Their summer peformance season gave three fun filled weeks of live performances featuring the Franzens, the Alvarez family and Pat Kelly. The Circus City Festival also occurs during the July activities and the Hall of Fame provided many of their wagons and performers in the grand parade on Saturday Morning where they had 40 units in the parade. The Hall of Fame was also honored to return to the Indiana State fair again this year for the 5th time giving 30 minute "Free Attraction" shows through out the duration of the Fair.
This years inductees to the International Circus Fall of Fame were Circus performer and show owner, Tommy Hanneford and the legendary one finger stand artist "Unus". Next year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Circus City festival. The Circus Model Builders will be having their National Convention in Peru next year along with the many other fine events going on. You can visit the International Circus Hall of Fame at http://www.circushof.com/ or call them at 1-800-771-0241.