Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 4, 2013

Peru wants circus festival safeguards

Two file tort claims last year after sustaining injuries.

By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer

Peru — City officials say they don’t want to be held responsible for accidents occurring during the annual Circus City Festival in downtown Peru after two people filed tort claims against the city last year for injuries they sustained during the festival.

City Attorney Bill Berkshire said Monday the city is requesting the festival put a clause in its insurance to waive the city from liability in case of an accident.

One person tripped over a water line on the sidewalk that was installed for a festival vendor, and another person tripped while stepping off a sidewalk, said Peru Clerk-Treasurer Jackie Gray.

No lawsuits have been brought against the city, Berkshire said, but the individuals have two years to do so after filing the claims.

Mark Allen, an agent with Webster Insurance Agency, which facilitates insurance policies for both the city and the festival, said Monday the festival plans to add a clause to its insurance that would hold the festival or its vendors responsible for accidents.

“Just because the festival is held in Peru doesn’t mean the city did anything wrong,” he said. “This would be a good safeguard for the city.”

Peru Mayor Jim Walker said the city allows the festival to use its infrastructure, like water and electricity, at no cost. He said around 10,000 people attend the event, which is scheduled this year for the week of July 13.

“This policy wouldn’t apply to just the circus, but to anybody who wanted to come into town and set up a festival,” he said. “It would be stated they would have to sign something that would hold us harmless.”

Allen said he believes last year was the first time individuals filed tort claims against the city because of incidents occurring at the festival.

Circus City Festival Inc. was formed in 1960 to celebrate Miami County’s circus heritage, according to the festival’s website. The organization also runs the annual Peru Amateur Circus, where area youth put on high-wire acts like the flying trapeze.

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.