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September 23, 2007

8:45 p.m.: Circus leaves impression on Chesterfield

CHESTERFIELD — The circus came to town this weekend for Chesterfield Days, and according to organizers, it’s here to stay.

The Peru Circus gave three performances to hundreds of Chesterfield Days attendees over the weekend, finishing its last performance Sunday afternoon under a big top of bright blue sky.

“I knew they’d do a top-notch show,” said Chris Parrish, town clerk-treasurer and Chesterfield Days organizer. “This wasn’t planned; it was the first time we had a circus, but it’ll be here every year from now on.”

Parrish said that he was recommended the Peru Circus, with which he was already familiar, and that the performers didn’t disappoint.

According to Director Bill Anderson, the Peru Circus is a youth program for Miami County residents ages 7 to 21. The circus has some 200 members, and has performed as far away as Monaco.

“We’re very excited to be in Chesterfield,” said Anderson, noting that the circus had a recent performance in South Bend, and one scheduled for December in Indianapolis.

The Peru Circus operates just like any other circus, with clowns, a high-wire act, trampolines and tumbling. The only difference is Peru doesn’t use animals.

The Peru Circus is in its 48th year, part of a long circus history in that town. According to Anderson, the town’s circus history began at least as far back as 1921 after a resident acquired a circus. The circus couldn’t afford to pay room and board, so it was bought. Ever since then, the circus has been a part of Peru.

The Peru Circus began in 1958 because the chamber of commerce wanted to attract tourists to the area, said Anderson. The Peru Circus has only three paid employees, operating almost completely by volunteers.

Another bonus of having the circus in town was that it helped raise money for the Riverfield baseball team. Members of the team sold tickets door-to-door before performances, and got a percentage of ticket and refreshment sales.

Parrish said that 175 people came to a Saturday afternoon show, and 225 to a Saturday night show.

“We say that it’s something for the whole family,” said Candy Bennett, president of the festival committee. Bennett also thanked everyone involved in Chesterfield Days for making it possible.

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