Slap on some sunscreen and a floppy hat and head out to Centrefest this weekend.
Twenty-four of the hottest street performers from Alberta and around the world will turn four blocks of Red Deer’s downtown into an outdoor stage for their singing, dancing and acrobatic acts on Saturday and Sunday.
Australia’s Andrew Elliot will appear as Magician Fakir the Sword Swallower, while American Rob Torres performs as The International Man of Mirth. As well, watch for Ontario’s Silver Elvis and The Checkerboard Guy, New Zealand’s juggler Kim Potter, U.S. clown Pete Sweet, and Swank, a group of street theatre actors from the U.K.
From closer to home will come Edmonton’s hiphop dancers Freshly Squeezed, Lacombe’s facepainter Rosie Posie and balloon artist Mr. McTwist, and Red Deer’s Circus Camp Kids and Flying Bob, and other performers.
Festival director Esterina Manyluk wants everyone to get set for a really fun time.
Billed as “a show without walls,” Red Deer’s Centrefest, which partners with the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, attracted an estimated 22,000 people over two days last year.
Local organizers are expecting at least as many area residents to enjoy this year’s event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. (A few of the street artists will also give city residents a sneak preview of their acts at noon on Friday in City Hall Park.)
“I just think Centrefest gives people opportunities to laugh,” said Manyluk — which can be a real boon, especially in difficult economic times.
For the first time this year, donation boxes will be set out in more prominent locations in the hope that area residents who enjoy Centrefest will contribute a loonie towards next year’s operating costs. While many local businesses are continuing as festival sponsors, Manyluk said some have had to reduce their contributions because of the tougher economy.
“We’re being proactive . . . so if you like the festival, and want to see it continue, put in a donation.”
This year’s event is also going more green. Centrefest will be selling souvenir water bottles that can be filled and refilled from onsite water coolers. Water misters will also be set up to give festival-goers a chance to cool off, said Manyluk, and the usual recycling bins will be available.
The all-ages festival is bringing back Kids World, where children can learn to hiphop dance or pick up some pointers at a circus camp.
And Manyluk said there will be more benches this year, since past festival-goers have requested more places to sit.
She hopes Central Albertans will enjoy all the unique performers and their physically impressive stunts, which have included tight-rope walking, one-man-band playing and juggling with flaming torches.
Centrefest performers always exhibit an uncanny ability to impress and amaze, said Manyluk. “It’s a chance to escape and enjoy the purity of these art forms.”