Brayden Williams high-fives one of the Carisa Hendrix Stilt Walkers during the 2015 CentreFest Street Performer Festival downtown this past weekend. Stilt walkers

Send in the clowns: Street performers pack downtown

In an effort to get some fun in before the rain came down, people packed into downtown Red Deer to take in the wonder of the 13th annual CentreFest.

In an effort to get some fun in before the rain came down, people packed into downtown Red Deer to take in the wonder of the 13th annual CentreFest.

Queen Schaerer, a Red Deer resident, came with a big group to the weekend festival, something she said she does every year.

“It’s awesome and they’re entertaining,” said Schaerer. “They each have their own personalities and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Jennifer Mukunja and her son Ryan sat with Shaerer for the Jonathan Burns show, a contortionist. Ryan volunteered for part of the act, which involved him lying down on a blanket, having an apple in his mouth and waiting for Burns to drop a fork from above into the apple.

“I didn’t know he was going to put an apple in my mouth,” Ryan said, nodding that he was scared when he saw just how big the fork falling towards his face was.

Burns covered Ryan’s eyes with a black sheet just before he dropped the fork. Only to slowly bend down and spear the apple with the barbecue-sized fork for comedic effect.

Scharer’s daughter Stephanie echoed her mother’s sentiments about the festival, saying how she enjoyed the afternoon in downtown Red Deer.

The storm Saturday afternoon put an abrupt end to the day’s performances, but it resumed Sunday with an abundance of performances.

CentreFest is still looking for a title sponsor, which the board believes would help with the annual event.

This year, Jan Penney, CentreFest board chair, said they haven’t had to aggressively fundraise in the past and the board suggested a little crowdfunding campaign to supplement their efforts.

“The City of Red Deer wouldn’t let this not happen,” said Penney. “They support us so well.

“When they heard we were struggling a little bit, they had a meeting with us to say ‘what can we do?’”

Early into the Saturday performances, the streets were packed with people who wanted to see a little bit of the action.

Penney said some of the circle performers said the crowds are as deep this year while they are setting up as they have been during performances in other years.

“Because the crowds are a little bit bigger earlier, it makes it exciting, it moves people around faster,” said Penney. “They’re going from circle to circle quick. Usually when there is a circle show going on the centre (music stage and food vendors) seems empty, but this year the circles are full and there is still all these people.”

About 30 dedicated volunteers spent the weekend pitching in to help the show run smoothly.

Work on CentreFest 14 starts Monday with festival director Janice Shimek talking to vendors and artistic director Robert Palmer talking to performers and doing a post-mortem on how the event went from their perspectives.

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