PERU — The Circus City Festival has a little more bounce in its floppy shoes this year as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

For the 10 a.m. Saturday circus parade through Peru, Grissom Air Reserve Base is sending more entries and elephants will close the parade.

The whole parade will follow a history theme but still contain favorites like the Gordon Pipers from Indianapolis.

“Whenever we have a milestone, we go above and beyond that year,” said Mark Hall, president of the Circus City Festival Inc. board of directors.

The show is also beefed up a bit this year for the anniversary and will highlight the history of the show.

During the nightly shows, which run through two performances on Saturday, the festival will ask alumni in the audience stand for recognition, then bring them down after the show for a group photo, he said.

There’s also another milestone.

This year is the first time the circus has had a female flying trapeze catcher.

It’s not the first time a young woman has participated in the trapeze act, but she’s the first to catch the mid-air acrobats in its 60 years, Hall said.

Peru began the eight-day festival with the idea of “reawakening the area’s rich circus heritage,” according to the event’s website at

In the late 1800s, many of the bigger circuses wintered southeast of Peru, where the International Circus Hall of Fame is now.

About 200 kids from 7 to 21 perform in 10 daily performances during the mid-July festival with the remaining weekday ones at 7 p.m. and the Saturday performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., following the 10 a.m. circus parade.

The festival also offers games, rides, food, vendors and more, with the circus originally happening under a tent before moving into the permanent three-ring building near the town’s center.

Justin Yoo, also known as Capt. Catch 'Em, started performing in the circus at 7 years old. He is now 19 and an unofficial juggling instructor.

"You can't like juggling," he said. "You have to love it. It becomes a habit and then an addiction. I'll juggle anything, regardless of what shape or how fragile it is."

He juggles instinctively, from the glasses in his kitchen to the produce in the grocery store.

But the weirdest thing he's ever juggled was unbelievable.

"Boxes covered in butter," he said. "I was bragging to my friend that I could juggle anything. So he went to the trouble of melting butter all over these boxes and I tried it. That's the only thing I couldn't juggle."

The performer insisted that juggling isn't about talent.

It comes down to dedication -- and much more practice.

He and his brothers practice two hours daily than the other acts, and they have to stay focused, thus the name Juggling before Girls.

How did the name come about? It's Hot Shot's fault, Justin Yoo said.

Kyler Hanson, also known as Hot Shot, pointed the finger back at Justin Yoo.

"We're always juggling," Hanson said. "We've become like a family and hang out outside of here. We're always competing, too, and it was a big thing about who would be the first to juggle five at once."

Diana Yoo, Justin's mother and co-producer of the circus, said Juggling before Girls exhibits her favorite part of the circus perfectly.

"I've watched them gain confidence and do things they swore they couldn't do," she said. "It's an amazing experience."

CNHI News Indiana reporter Laura Arwood contributed to this article.

Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at or 574-732-5117

If you go

Circus parade: Saturday, 10 a.m.

Circus show times: Tonight, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets: or 765-472-3918

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