ANNUAL EVENT - Pictured here is a scene from last year’s CentreFest. This year’s festival runs July 30th-31st in the downtown core.

Annual CentreFest set for later this month

When the sun’s out, the music is booming, and the crowd is cheering it can only mean one thing. CentreFest is back.

Performers are getting their outfits, juggling knives and trampolines ready to entertain the masses yet again as CentreFest returns for its 14th consecutive year to Red Deer on July 30th-31st.

Festival Director Janice Shimek has been running the festival for the past three years overseeing several responsibilities such as finding the funding, sponsorship, working with vendors, marketing and taking on various other roles.

“Each year we try to bring in people from all around the world,” she said. “So we not only have a percentage of national and provincial, but international talent as well.”

CentreFest began in 2002 and has since evolved into the largest street performer festival in Central Alberta.

Each year the festival draws in over 25,000 people from all around Alberta, organizers say.

The festival is fun for all ages with entertainment all around.

“Everybody has their own little, unique flavour to what it is that they do and it’s special,” Shimek said. “The kids enjoy it, laugh and usually join in.”

CentreFest will also be host to Circus World which will be presented by Axiom Architecture which gives kids an opportunity to be a part of the big-top and learn various circus skills.

“They can learn to juggle a bit, walk the tight rope, spinning plates,” said Shimek. “There’s a lot of things that they do and they’re led by professionals that know how to do all these things.”

Music World, hosted by 100.7 Cruz FM, will also be at the festival so patrons can listen to local talent and big hits while they enjoy other activities.

“Music World is about finding all those fantastic local musicians,” said Shimek. “We have a line-up starting Saturday morning to Sunday night.

“So we have all this great musical talent on stage and people can sit and enjoy the music with their food.”

The festival plans on hosting events all day and will be featuring several globally recognized international talents.

Bill Ferguson, the ‘Master of Crowd Control’, hails from the UK.

With a simple challenge of juggling any three things of the audience’s choice, Ferguson promises to entertain the crowd with a little surprise, should he succeed in juggling the three items. But if he fails to perform the trick, it’s pie-to-the-face-time, officials say.

Cirque No Problem joins the festival from Israel. Winners of the World Street Performer Championship 2014, the acrobatics show brings traditional 20’s travelling circus companies and modern circuses together for a show that promises a grand display of their performing prowess.

ZAP Circus comes through from down under Australia. The award winning Rusty and Tarabelle put on a ‘circus extravaganza’ for spectators with their flaming-hot juggling and hoop spinning.

Flip from Canada’s own Quebec makes their way to CentreFest as well. Kids will flip out when they see the three person acrobatic/trampoline comedy show. The show will keep audience members laughing and astounded.

The Puppet Guy comes in from Newark, New Jersey. Though the name sounds simple, his puppeteering skills are beyond compare as Lee Zimmerman, the hand behind the marionette, astounds crowds with his rock and roll puppet show. The world recognized talent that is Zimmerman’s The Puppet Guy has not only been going strong for 30 years, but has also appeared on the Drew Carey Show and worked with Quentin Tarantino.

JuggleMania joins in from Portland, Oregon.

The show stars Rhys Thomas, the man who tosses knives in the air like they’re coins and he will keep the crowds smiling with his witty banter, balance and juggling.

Thomas has had thousands of shows all across the world and has even had his act take up residence in the Smithsonian Institution.

In addition to the performances, food and activities, the festival plans on having Raffle-O-Rama.

For $10 patrons can buy a raffle ticket and winners will be drawn on Nov. 1st.

The first place prize, worth over $4,279.94, the Grande Yard Package, is a lawn care package which includes a Novamen garden shed, A Poulan snowblower, a Honda lawnmower, one Sthil chainsaw, one gas-powered weed eater, a Blue Grass Farm & Nursery gift card and a pressure washer.

The second prize of the raffle is a $500 gold bracelet from Parkland Mall.

All the raffle prizes were donated from the festival’s sponsors.

CentreFest will be held on July 30th and 31st on Ross St. between Little Gaetz Ave. and 48 St.

“I think what drives me every year is the joy of the people,” said Shimek. “You know, it’s a lot of hard work.

“I might feel really tired and have no energy by the time the festival arrives but then we start Friday with the kick-off and by Saturday morning when people start to arrive, the whole atmosphere completely changes my attitude and brings me up.

“I feel refreshed and re-energized and just happy to be a part of the experience.”

Shimek has been involved with CentreFest for a number of years but this will be the third year she’ll be the festival director.

There will be a ‘sneak peek’ event held on July 29th at noon at City Hall Park with some of the entertainers and a barbecue.

Shimek said the festival is always looking for more sponsors, partners and volunteers and all are welcome to join.

“This is such a wonderful community event,” said Shimek. “Red Deer has such few festivals that we really need to ensure that this festival continues to grow and flourish.”

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