Geoffrey Cobb

CentreFest performers display talents at pared down showcase

Rain and wind forced the cancellation of the formal Friday barbecue kickoff, but 2014 Red Deer CentreFest organizers were able to salvage a pared down showcase of some of the acts to promote the weekend festival.

Rain and wind forced the cancellation of the formal Friday barbecue kick off, but 2014 Red Deer CentreFest organizers were able to salvage a pared down showcase of some of the acts to promote the weekend festival.

A few of the performers got their gear and tried as best they could to showcase some of their talents in the courtyard of the Red Deer Lodge on Friday morning, to promote the weekend festival.

The annual street performer festival showcases a wide variety of acts, this year including a sword swallower, acrobats, plate-spinner and juggler, and a Guinness World Record stunt pogo performer.

“You could call it variety entertainment,” said Bob Palmer, CentreFest artistic director.

“Some of the performers are really hard to describe, they do really weird, wacky, strange things.”

Six main acts run in a rotation today and Sunday at one of two stages downtown. Saturday, they perform from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., while on Sunday it goes from noon to 5:30 p.m.

The festival takes place in the streets downtown, on Ross Street from Gaetz to 48th Avenue and on 49th Avenue from 49th to 51st Street.

Festival director Janice Shimek said one of the acts she is excited to see is Thom Selectomy. The sword swallower has performed all over the world and tells stories from his travels in between swallowing swords.

Pogo Fred takes the classic pogo stick and pushes it to the extreme with flips, tricks and three-metre-tall pogo sticks.

Now based in Toronto, John Park’s funny waiter show incorporates plate-spinning, scarf dancing and a marshmallow routine.

The Kif-Kif Sisters from Quebec City mix theatre, puppetry, circus magic, acrobatics and their own craziness.

Rob Torres has a long history of performing in theatres, circuses, variety shows, galas, TV and film; he utilizes his formal training to create a fun and weird show.

The Red Trouser Show is a duo of acrobats who throw knife and fire juggling into their routine.

There are also four performers who will circulate throughout the grounds, doing their own brand of entertainment. This year, there is a Don Cherry impersonator, a piano-playing cyclist, a stilt-walking bug catcher and the acme circus, featuring juggling, balancing and a little bit of fire.

Though it is a free event to attend, Palmer joked it is a little more expensive to get out.

“If you’re watching a big show and you love the show, these performers make their money by passing their hat. If you like the show, throw a five or 10 in the hat. It’s the cheapest, best entertainment you can find.”

For those who want a break from the street performers, they can make their way over to the music stage where artists from all over Alberta will be playing their tunes throughout the weekend.

Palmer said he would really like to see a third day added to the festival to increase attendance.

There is also an all-star variety show featuring the best of the performers tonight at 9:30 at Fratters Speakeasy, at 5114 48th St.

“They take it a little bit further, some stuff you don’t see on the street, it’s always great fun,” said Shimek.

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