Festival Report by Charles Shapiro
Two hundred and ten jugglers and four vendors attended the thirty-fifth
annual Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival February 1-3 in Atlanta Georgia.
The Yaarab Temple space was lovely as always, and many old friends
re-united over new passing patterns on Friday night.
Among the festival innovations this year were name tags, very handy for
maneuvering people in big club-passing groups. In addition, Made Members
had printed plastic nametags, making them easy targets for
questions like "Where's a good restaurant here?" or "How do I sign up for
Saturday games were chaired by the able Spencer Schwab, now living
in Florida with his new wife Shivella Schwab (nee Rogers). Events included
5-ball endurance, club balance, the infamous Juggling
Simon Says, quarter juggling, club crown, and a novel 7-club paired
endurance competition with randomized partners.
Ten acts entered the 2 pm Groundhog Day Competition. Among the outstanding
acts was Keith McNeil and family, with a popeye-themed show which included
some subtle multi-prop manipulations, and Alan Thompson with a strong club
presentation. Chase Martin took "Most Wonderful" with astonishing four-
and five-ball bounce tricks. Chauncey Kroner of St Louis made "Most
Pleasing" with a routine which included a trick boom-box prop which opened
to reveal his juggling props and some high-level flips and rolls. Drew
Brown was "Most Fabulous" with a high-speed cane routine which he did
almost flawlessly -- no drops, and only one subtle fumble.
The Saturday Night Cabaret featured 9 acts. First up was Tim Settimi with
a slide-show and tribute to the three members of our community who died
this year. Jay Gardner and friends performed a strong tribute to the South
Korean rapper Psy's viral hit "Gangnam Style". Previous groundhog day
winner David Ferman showed his professional juggling chops well. Last
year's "Most Marvelous" Kellin Quinn also juggled for the crowd. Uri
Gottschalk and his partner Spencer demonstrated some championship Yo-Yo
moves next. Neil Jordaan helped to publicize (and raise money for) the new
AJA Floor with an exciting rope escape. Jay Jones won this year's Mouse
Award. The North Carolina juggling group "Forty Fingers and a Missing
Tooth" did a well-choreographed group club passing routine. Chase Martin
closed the show with some tricks which he felt weren't quite ready for
non-jugglers yet, hitting many of them.
Other activities at the festival included Jonathan Perry's new Apples to
Apples juggling card deck, which was great fun if you're In the Culture.
Workshops on cane juggling, poi, kendama, and other skills were
well-attended. The fun ended at Panahar Restaurant on Buford Highway,
where a small but hardy cohort toasted the last festival and started plans