Festival Report by Charles Shapiro
182 registered jugglers attended the 36th annual Groundhog Day Jugglers
Festival held January 30 - February 2, 2014. The crowd included travelers
from Canada, Missouri, Utah, and Colorado as well as the usual assortment
of Floridians, Carolinians, and other Southeastern folks. Attendance was
down a little from previous years, possibly a result of the news coverage
of the big snowstorm traffic jam in Atlanta the previous week. We saw
mostly clear skies and temperatures in the 50s from Thursday through
Friday night featured open juggling, a little less crowded than other
years. The Yerba Maté-fueled juggling, unicycling, hooping, and general
mayhem started at 5 pm and went on until the tick of 10 pm. Area bars and
restaurants caught the overflow afterward. Only a few of the groups
passing were working with both hands, although several were involved in
some interesting movement patterns.
Spencer Schwab ably directed the juggling games on Saturday morning.
Kellin Quinn and Dan Brown won the “Huggling” contest, and Dan Brown also took
home a trophy for the 5-ball endurance, enlivened at the end with a 5-up
pirouette. Matt Feldman won the Blind Juggling contest. In a dramatic
upset, Kerry Silson took the Club Balance trophy from perennial favorite
Jimmy Robertson. Anthony Attinello took home a trophy full of cash in the
quarter juggling contest. The random 7-club juggling trophy went to Alan
Thompson and Matt ? . Kellin Quinn took the juggling Simon Says trophy.
Jimmy Robertson's only trophy was a special “I am Jimmy Robertson” model.
Kerry Silson had a great time hamming it up with his club balance trophy
at the later events in the festival.
Workshops included basic juggling, contact staff, and basic club tricks.
Other learning opportunities abounded, including unicycling at all levels
in the courtyard and gym, a low-altitude tight rope, and various other
interesting conveyances including a trikke, an electric skateboard, a
racing tricycle, power stilts and drywall stilts.
The Seed and Feed Marching Abominable Band, celebrating their 40th
anniversary this year, opened the public show with a rousing set of
The Juggling Competition had 10 acts, herded along by our own President
Andy Ford. IJA Juniors champion Delaney Bayles (Salt Lake City, Utah) was
the "Most Outstanding" act, with a routine which included some 5-ball
tricks, four-ring pancakes, 5-ring pull-offs and pull-ons, and ended with
a 5-club 3-up pirouette. Brandon Zaballero took the "Most Terrific"
trophy, with an act which also included several 5-ball tricks, some
interesting 3-ring body-roll tricks, and a short run of 7 rings. St.
Petersburg's Dan Brown took home the "Most Stupendous" prize; his act
included 5 ball back-crosses, a solid run of 7 balls, 5-club back-crosses,
and a brief juggle of 6 clubs.
Other highlights of the competition included Atlanta's Keith
McNeil running several multi-object juggling tricks, Isabella Majzun with
an original act incorporating some amazing contortions, and Roger Smith
(Jacksonville, Florida) with some remarkable club juggling on unicycle. A
7-ball endurance contest during the judges' deliberations was handily won
by Delaney Bayles; the 5-club endurance contest was taken by ?. Neil,
Heather and a young volunteer also entertained the audience with their
comedy club passing act until the judges returned.
The 10 pm Cabaret was ably MC ed by North Carolinian Joseph “Just Joey”
Rudzinski and included 12 acts. Highlights included Randy Cabral's
impressive hat tricks, our own Jimmy Robertson doing some fairly
impossible unicycle mounts and idles, new Groundhog winner Kellin Quinn
with a stylish club routine, and Ted Joblin's always impressive diabolo
act. Other acts included Bella Becker's LED fan dance, Dan Brown with some
nice lighted ball work, and Uri Gottschalk's modernist yo-yoing. Keith
Watson received the Mouse award this year in memory of Mickey Motti.
Sunday was quiet, with the usual hugging and crying as people started off
on their travels homeward. Fifteen of us went to the traditional Panahar
feast, where we toasted a Groundhog Festival old enough to be president
and plotted new excitements for next year.