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Circus Hall of Fame facts for kids

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Wallace Circus Winter Headquarters
Wallace Circus Winter Headquarters.jpg
Buildings and a circus wagon at the Hall of Fame
Circus Hall of Fame is located in Indiana
Circus Hall of Fame
Location in Indiana
Circus Hall of Fame is located in the United States
Circus Hall of Fame
Location in the United States
Nearest city Peru, Indiana
Built 1892
NRHP reference No. 87000837
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 27, 1987
Designated NHL February 27, 1987

Wallace Circus and American Circus Corporation Winter Quarters, also known as Peru Circus Farm or Valley Farms, is located in Peru, Indiana. It was associated with the Wallace Circus. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

The site is now the home of the International Circus Hall of Fame, which honors important figures in circus history. The museum exhibits posters, wagons and models, including a miniature replica of the 1934 Hagenbeck Wallace Circus. The museum is open from May through October. The International Circus Hall of Fame also hosts the seasonal Big Top Circus, a professional circus with performers from around the world.


The home of the Circus Hall of Fame had previously been in Florida. The Ringling Brothers Circus had established their winter quarters in Sarasota, Florida in 1927, with a large amount of help by Victor Sabattini (1916–2010), an insurance executive, who later became the president and chairman of the board. In the mid-1950s the idea to create a hall of fame to honor outstanding circus artists was conceived of by circus fans in the Sarasota community and in 1956 the Circus Hall of Fame opened. Located near the Sarasota airport, the Hall of Fame included exhibition space in several buildings filled with circus memorabilia, including personal effects from famous circus artists and impresarios – costumes, props, posters and circus wagons. In addition to the exhibits, the Circus Hall of Fame presented circus acts several times a day, during several months each year.

In addition to visits by Florida tourists, the Circus Hall of Fame received national exposure. NBC-TV broadcast "The Circus Hall of Fame All Star Circus" on Sept. 12, 1970. The host, Ed McMahon, conveyed congratulations to the four newly named inductees to the Circus Hall of Fame for 1970 including famous circus performers, The Rieffenach Sisters (bareback riders), aerialists Mayme Ward and Ira Millette, and circus impresario Billy Smart Sr.

Although up to 80,000 tourists visited the Circus Hall of Fame each year, by the late 1970s it was unprofitable and the owners prepared to close the museum. In 1980 the lease on the property expired and on May 27, 1980, the Sarasota Circus Hall of Fame had its last performance.

In 1981 a group of citizens from Peru, Indiana, learned that the effects of the Circus Hall of Fame were for sale. Interested in preserving the circus artifacts and concerned that they might be auctioned off separately, Indiana residents, businesses and the state government contributed to the purchase of the entire collection to bring it to Peru, Indiana. Many other items have since been added to the original Sarasota collection, including 16 historical wagons reconstructed in the Hall of Fame wagon shop and the Peru Wagon Works Shop.

Prominent inductees

  • 1958 Lillian Leitzel
  • 1960 William C. Coup
  • 1960 James Anthony Bailey
  • 1960 P. T. Barnum
  • 1961 Bird Millman
  • 1961 The Ringling Brothers
  • 1962 Dan Rice
  • 1963 Adam Forepaugh
  • 1963 May Wirth
  • 1963 Victor Pépin
  • 1964 Isaac Van Amburgh
  • 1964 Philip Astley
  • 1965 Clyde Beatty
  • 1966 Con Colleano
  • 1969 Mabel Stark
  • 1970 Billy Smart Sr.
  • 1971 Karl King
  • 1972 Felix Adler
  • 1972 George A. Hamid Sr.
  • 1973 Otto Griebling
  • 1974 Buffalo Bill Cody
  • 1974 Tom Mix
  • 1975 Merle Evans
  • 1975 The Zacchini Brothers
  • 1977 William Preston Hall
  • 1979 The Wallenda Troupe
  • 1980 Mollie Bailey
  • 1981 The Albert Hodgini Troupe
  • 1986 John Ringling North
  • 1987 Irvin Feld
  • 1987 Bertram Mills
  • 1989 Lou Jacobs
  • 1994 Emmett Kelly
  • 1996 Knie family
  • 1997 Annie Oakley
  • 1997 Thomas Taplin Cooke
  • 1999 Gunther Gebel-Williams
  • 2001 Elvin Bale
  • 2003 Hugo Zacchini
  • 2005 Miles White
  • 2006 Kenneth Feld
  • 2006 Francis Brunn
  • 2009 Cecil B. DeMille
  • 2009 Paul Binder
  • 2010 Henry Ringling North
  • 2011 Norman Barrett
  • 2012 Freddie Freeman
  • 2014 Terry Cavaretta
  • 2016 Barry Lubin
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