Red Deer’s downtown was bursting with activity this past weekend during the annual CentreFest street festival.
Marking its eighth year, the festival featured an array of stellar street performers from around the world from dancers and magicians to comics and contortionists.
Everything went off without a hitch, said Randy Butler, festival director, adding there was plenty of positive feedback. Some even noted that they preferred the event to the Edmonton Street Performers Festival.
“We made an effort to go around and talk to people and they said there having a great time,” he said. “We also estimate there were about 25,000 people onsite during the weekend, so we were very busy,” he said, adding that the weather cooperated wonderfully as well.
“It wasn’t too hot and there wasn’t a drop of rain.”
Butler said there were also enough volunteers on hand to make sure things ran smoothly.
Highlights this year included Red Deer native Spandy Andy (also known as Andy Rimer) who wowed the crowds with his zany antics in comedy and dance. Now based in Vancouver, the talented performer is a fixture plying his trade in Vancouver’s downtown and the nearby English Bay area.
Against the Wall Theatre also kept folks entertained with impromptu games and improve on the CentreFest site, and Prime Stock Theatre’s The Bard on Bower brought their own renditions of Shakespeare to downtown Red Deer as well. Another local entertainer was Little Smarty, the clown from the Giggle Gang in Didsbury.
Buskers and musicians were also onhand to entertain, and there were vendors selling crafts, food and refreshments.
Some of the international artists onhand this year included New Zealand’s ‘Basketball Jones’ (Sean Dwen) who can juggle five regulation basketballs and skillfully ride a unicycle. Starting from the streets of London, Herbie Treehead is internationally recognized with his interactive clowning act.
The Street Circus Show, a duo from Winnipeg, has also melded all the best aspects of a circus into one daredevil stunt show complete with acrobatics and comedy.
As to the festival’s continued ability to attract a growing and loyal audience, Butler points to the nature of the event. For one thing, there is no entrance fee and folks are asked to pay performers after they take in various shows throughout the day. That’s a plus when things are economically tight for some families, he said.
“I think the biggest thing is that it’s such a unique festival to our area,” he said.
Butler also said there were no problems during the weekend as to managing the crowds or anything of that nature either.
Meanwhile, RCMP across Alberta cracked down on unsafe drivers over the long weekend.
In Red Deer, there were eight charges of impaired driving, said Red Deer city RCMP Cpl. Kathe DeHeer, adding that the long weekend didn’t present officers with too much that was out of the ordinary. Numbers of collisions in the City were also comparatively low, she said. She said there were some complaints of disturbing of the peace, but they’ve been more numerous overall with summer season.
Between July 30 and Aug. 2, officers handed out more than 4,054 charges across Alberta including 235 for impaired driving, 48 24-hour suspensions, 98 seatbelt and child restraint infractions, 22 intersection infractions and 3,275 speeding violations.
Alberta Transportation statistics show that from 2004-08 as many as 10 people are killed in traffic collisions every August long weekend.
Police say that throughout August, they will be focusing on impaired drivers as statistics show August has a consistently high number of alcohol-related traffic deaths.