Festival Report by Charles Shapiro
About 168 jugglers registered for the 33rd annual Groundhog Day Jugglers
Festival February 4,5,and 6 2011. Friday started out a little light,
probably because of the heavy rain and some sleet North of Atlanta which
slowed many travelers. Highlights on the floor included a 5-foot walking
globe and a short informal club-stealing workshop led by Florida's Amazing
Kenny. Some high-school kids wandered through and got juggling lessons as
well. By late Friday evening the floor was filling in with lots of people
tossing, spinning, twirling, and riding.
Saturday morning started fast as folks poured in to the space. Several
yo-yo ists traded tricks in the warm weather outside the gym, and inside
large groups passed clubs. Feasts have replaced the old-style rotating
feed as the default pattern for really large groups of passers.
Highlights of the day included unicycle jousting and unicycle tag, some
advanced club passing by various in-town and out-of-town jugglers, and a
three-man feed with torches late in the evening. Greg Cohen arrived to
sell props; he'd been seriously delayed by the weather Friday night.
Nine intrepid jugglers competed for the coveted Phil award. The
competition was overseen by our own Rodger French, a founder of the
Atlanta Jugglers Association who has missed only a few of the 33 annual
festivals. It started with the inimitable
and Feed Marching Abominable Band, led by long-time Atlanta juggler
Winners were the team of Neil Jordaan and Heather Marriott
(Most Terrific) with a clean act consisting
of lifts and artistic club juggling, David Ferman
(Most Awesome) with a solid technical act which included a set of
5-club tricks, tricks with 7 balls, and a 7-club flash and Austin Bruckner
(Most Superb) did some nice 5-ball work and a
run of 7 balls, and finished with a 6-ring pull-down while standing on a
3-foot walking globe.
Other highlights included a fine dance-oriented routing by past winner
Ashley Ellis, and Atlanta's own Keith McNeil doing some fine work with
assorted props, including juggling 2 rings, 2 balls, and one club. The
youngest competitor was Ian Willoughby, who turned in a fine basic
performance in miniature.
The Midnight Cabaret took place in the gym this year. Steve Langley, the
M.C. for the show, is soon to go to Italy to set the world record for most
simultaneous paddleballs. That evening he showed his multitasking skills
by keeping the show moving briskly.
Rodger French and the Deluxe Vaudeville Orchestra started the show off,
with Janet Metzger singing some of the old classics, including "Brazil"
and "Tico Tico". Other performers included John Nations, Kenny "The
Amazing" Toombs, and "Playing by Air" -- the duo of Ted Joblin and Jacob
Weiss. The most astounding technical juggling was a "dance-off" between
David Ferman and Dan Brown, featuring tricks with up to 7 clubs and some
serious break-dancing. Judy Thompson won the Mouse award for her sterling
service at the registration table.
Sunday featured more amazing passing patterns, as well as a variety of
informal workshops. Some of the topics included poi swinging, stilt
walking, ball bouncing, and hoops/hula hoops. As people started to make
their trips home, a game of club combat morphed into juggling field ball
After a full day many of us retired to Panahar Restaurant on Buford
Highway, where we ate scrumptious north Indian food, told lots of lies,
and drank much beer.