Red Deer’s downtown business association hopes putting a knife-throwing comedian, a Mountie riding a five-metre-tall tyrannosaurus rex, a catapulted cabbage catch, the Grey Cup and scores of people in the same four-block area will make for a weekend-long party.
This year’s Centrefest, the 11th incarnation of the downtown Red Deer street performer festival, has all these sights and more.
Set for Saturday and Sunday, Ross Street from 48th to Gaetz Avenue and 69th Avenue from 49th to 51st Street will be blocked off for the afternoon festivities.
Heidi Hastings, Centrefest festival director, is excited that the event was so close, even though the week leading up to it has kept her busy.
“It’s out of the box, lots of fun, people smiling the whole time,” said Hastings.
“It is one of those festivals where everything is truly interactive.”
The knife-throwing comedian, Jack Dagger, has appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, done commercials for Samsung phones and has been on a History Television show called Most Extreme Marksmen demonstrating his skills.
He is slated for six performances throughout the weekend, four on Saturday and two on Sunday.
“A lot of these performers have a background in stand-up comedy,” said Hastings.
“So psychologically they know how to draw in a crowd and work with them. It is quite interesting looking at them from that perspective and how these performers come in and really, truly, work a crowd.
“They are showmen.”
The English-born, Canadian-bred Mike Wood is a stand-up comedian, master of ceremonies and actor — when he’s not catching a flying cabbage with a spiked helmet attached to his head.
A mainstay of his comedic performance, he has an audience member launch the cabbage from his specially-designed catapult.
Meanwhile, he is standing in the landing zone wearing a spiked helmet, awaiting the arrival of the cabbage.
As the flying cabbage gets close to his head, he adjusts his positioning to spear the green vegetable with one of the spikes protruding from his helmet.
“It’s definitely different,” said Hastings.
Other acts include acrobats, contortionists, jugglers and Doris the Tyrannosaurus.
“It’s a guy on stilts and he dresses up, and at the top of the T-Rex there is this guy poking out … and he’s dressed as a Mountie,” said Hastings. “It looks like there is this mini-Mountie on top of the 17-foot tall T-Rex.”
Another group, the Kamikaze Fireflies, perform a vaudeville style contortionist, juggling and acrobatic-based routine. They have a guarantee that if you don’t like their show you can punch them, with the caveat that some restrictions do apply to said guarantee.
Hastings said she is looking forward to seeing Byron Bertram, known for his appearance in a Vick’s Nyquill commercial where, with a severe case of man-flu, begs his wife to call his mom.
“I’ve heard he is hilarious, so I’m really excited to see him,” she said.
In addition to the acrobatics, stunts, flying cabbages and knives, there will be roving performers. That latter group includes the Etch-a-Sketch guy, who can draw portraits on the toy, and the human fountain, a living, breathing water show.
Musical acts, who will perform on their own stage, include Brad Abel, Dean Ray, Capitole D, Oldbury, Undersie Pattern, Waskasoo and Rebecca Raabis, among others.
Performances run from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Red Deerians can also get a sneak peak of the events at City Hall Park with the kickoff barbecue. The noon-hour event features just a small sample of the weekend performances.