Photo by

Smiles on the streets at CentreFest

Years of training, perfecting and experimenting go in to the 30 minute performances that delighted crowds and put smiles on the faces of onlookers at this year’s CentreFest.

Years of training, perfecting and experimenting go in to the 30 minute performances that delighted crowds and put smiles on the faces of onlookers at this year’s CentreFest.

Six stationary street performers and four roving street performers highlighted a fun-filled weekend in downtown Red Deer for the annual CentreFest.

CentreFest Artistic Director Bob Palmer has worked the street performer circuit for years as Flying Bob and has established many relationships in the industry, which helps attract performers to the annual Red Deer show.

“I check out other festivals, I go online and I know all these people so I have connections all over the world,” said Palmer. “I try to get together with other festivals so we can bring in the same artists to Canada and share the costs to make it a tour for the performers.”

Youtube and word of mouth are powerful tools to promote acts and determine who would be entertaining for the festival.

One of the younger faces in the performer lineup is Schuyler Snowdon, a stilt-walker who went with a butterfly catcher look.

The 26-year-old started as a juggler, but he volunteered at Palmer’s circus camps in Red Deer and started learning how to stilt-walk.

“At all these festivals there are face-painters and I noticed all these kids with butterflies on their cheeks,” said Snowdon. “I was walking around thinking it would be a lot of fun if I had a net and went catching kids with butterflies on their faces. That’s how I developed the character.”

The butterfly catcher look is just one of several Snowdon uses, as he was also seen using a bank robber on stilts character Saturday.

On top of being a roving performer he helped out at the circus workshop tent, a place where people can learn some of the skills such as juggling or stilt-walking that circus acts use.

“I rove, I do street performing and I do stage and I like all of it for very different reasons,” said Snowdon. “Street is wonderful because it is incredibly honest. Your audience can just leave at any time, so it’s very imperative you be very good. There is stuff you can get away with on stage that you can’t get away with on the street.”

Geoff Cobb, or Thom Sellectomy — his stage name — used to be a circus clown. He went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College out of high school and worked for two years on the circus. But now he has taken to swallowing swords and hammering nails up his nose.

“I was dumb enough to do it,” said Cobb. “What else am I going to do at this point. I’m 42, this is all I’ve ever done.”

It took Cobb about six months to learn how to swallow a sword.

“You kind of throw up over and over,” said Cobb. “Sword swallowing is really anatomy and the abuse thereof. Once your head is tipped back its a straight shot down your esophagus.”

For John Park, who performed his funny waiter routine at CentreFest, he started as a comedy juggler and still incorporates some of that to his routine. But he noticed that some of his audience participation bits had a food and drink theme to them, so he took on the persona of a waiter. It happened organically and now he runs with it.

“The neat thing about street performing is we show up some place and there’s nothing happening,” said Cobb. “All of a sudden you get people around you and out of nothing we’ve created a big thing.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month