This year’s CentreFest ‘bigger and better’ than ever

  • Jul. 10, 2013 8:26 p.m.

“Bigger and better than ever,” is how Heidi Hastings, communications and event coordinator at the Downtown Business Association for Centrefest 2013, describes this year’s event.

Red Deer’s 11th annual street performers’ festival, billed as the best silly fest in the west, takes place July 26–28.

This is Hasting’s first CentreFest and she describes it as, “A lot of fun and everyday is a new adventure. Our kick-off launch is on July 26, Friday noon, our Atco BBQ.

“For a $5 donation you can have lunch and a one hour mini-performance with all our entertainers.” The street shows start on July 27 at 11:30 a.m. and goes till 8 p.m. and noon till 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Lots of new performers will be featured this year and one of the headliners will be Jack Dagger, sometimes known as the King of Fling.

While he also cracks whips and makes wisecracks, he is best known for his ability to throw knives within a hair’s breadth of his attractive assistant. His signature stunt is known as the Jack Knife – Cucumber Slice, which he’s performed for Conan O’Brien on the Tonight Show.

“He should be pretty exciting. He’s actually won competitions and is world- renowned. Most of our performers are actually stand-up comedians who do their juggling or whatever routines while they deliver their humour.”

Among the other performers are Bryon from England with “His edgy, hilarious, comedy juggling chain escape show.”

He’s performed with Zack Galifinakis and Colin Mochrie, among others.

James Jordan is a carnival magician from Calgary and Kamikaze Fireflies from California is a two-person ‘vaudeville smack down that will rip you a new laugh hole,’ with giant spinning metal cubes and contortionist backbends. Then there’s Dan Raspyni who’s been performing juggling and balancing shows for 25 years.

Hastings says, “And we have an awesome range of food vendors coming in this year. With food trucks being all the rage right now we have everything from gourmet grilled cheese and pulled pork to shaved ice, doughnuts and ice cream, even empanadas among the new ones we’ve never had before.”

The Red Deer Rebels will have a booth and there’s the popular Kinsman’s Kid’s World.

The festival’s Music World is expanding this year too, to display “Red Deer’s thriving music scene with groups like Oldbury, Ruined Escape Plan and Waskasoo — great local talent.”

Many street performers do a circuit, hitting festivals in Edmonton and Grande Prairie as well as Red Deer and helping the festivals share costs.

However, the street performers are not paid by the festivals, although they do get their transportation and accommodation costs. Busking, performing on the street, and passing the hat at the end of their show is how they earn their money. How much you drop into their hats depends on how much you liked their performance.

“These guys are working hard to get you to laugh and have fun. A toonie would be great, but hey, if you’ve got a fiver, throw that in. (Give) whatever you feel it’s worth.”

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