IMPRESSIVE FEATS - Rusty from Zap Circus had a little fun with the audience at the annual CentreFest street performer festival in Red Deer in this file photo from last year. Red Deer Express file photo

CentreFest hits the City’s downtown this weekend

Folks are invited to the kick-off barbecue in City Hall Park at lunchtime on July 28th

Red Deer’s annual downtown street festival CentreFest hits the downtown core this weekend.

The colourful, lively event features a range of street performers that are in search of the best place or ‘pitch’ to perform their art.

CentreFest runs on Ross Street and 49th Ave. July 29th from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and July 30th from noon to 6 p.m.

Folks are also invited to the kick-off barbecue in City Hall Park at lunchtime on July 28th for a ‘taste of CentreFest’.

As the CentreFest web site points out, buskers can be dancers, mimes, artists, clowns, magicians, musicians, puppeteers, snake charmers, jugglers, acrobats, sword swallowers, tumblers, living statues and comedians – their diversity really knows no limits. No two shows are ever the same, which also makes street performing a truly unique form of entertainment.

Also according to the web site, other highlights include the Axiom Architecture Inc. Circus World, Rotary Water World, 100.7 FM The Cruz Music World, Street Market and food vendors.

Portable washrooms are available on site. There is a Toonie Tent for change to ‘put in the hats’. Emergency first-aid services are available. Parking is available all around the site.

This year marks the 15th year for the event, said Festival Director Janice Shimek, who has been involved with CentreFest in various capacities over the years and is in her fourth as the festival’s director.

Looking back, CentreFest was pretty much a hit from the word go.

And today, estimates are that between 25,000 to 30,000 check out the two-day event. There are a number of things that have fueled that growing popularity over the years.

Of course, audience members are encouraged to ‘pass the hat’ and make donations to help support the artists, but as Shimek pointed out, some folks give more which means that those without the funds to do so can still take in the wonders of CentreFest.

For Shimek, her work with CentreFest pretty much runs year-long. After a festival wraps – typically in late July or early August – she takes the month of August to take a break.

Into the New Year, it’s time to seek out community sponsorship.

This past May, there was the ‘Benefit on the Bridge’ – a fundraiser held on the CPR Pedestrian Bridge which featured music, food trucks and dancing.

As to this year’s event, Shimek has noted that the focus is on Canadian artists.

These include Red Deer native Spandy Andy, The Silver Starlets, Mighty Mike, Tianna the Traveller and The Checkerboard Guy. There are also a number of artists known as rovers, who will wander about the CentreFest site entertaining folks.

For more information, or for volunteer opportunities, check out www.centrefest.ca.