A TRIBUTE TO PEGGY FORD ... Clowns, acrobats, actors and other artists are planning a March 13 benefit in tribute to Peggy Ford, a Palo Alto native and popular circus performer who died in January after a long illness. Ford, a graduate of Gunn High School, went on to be one of the first female clowns to graduate from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, in 1974, local publicist Carla Befera said. After touring with Ringling Bros., Ford helped found and run the Clown Conservatory in San Francisco. The March 13 event, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Z Space at 450 Florida St. in San Francisco, will both help with the medical expenses from Ford's illness and start the Peggy Ford Award to assist young women who aspire to become professional clowns. Scheduled performers include Jeff Raz of Cirque du Soleil and the Pickle Family Circus, juggler Sara Felder, the acrobatic East West Duo, and a gathering of young women clowns. Tickets are $20-$100. Go to http://zspace.org or call 415-626-0453.