Winners of the coveted PHIL award this year were:
"Most Sensational" - Atticus Abraham from Crossville TN
"Most Groovy" - Harry Charles & Harrison Kendree from Rock Hill SC
"Most Dazzling" - Ben and Shelby Lipman from Sterling NJ.
Festival Report by Charles Shapiro
Two hundred and forty-three registered jugglers attended the 45th annual Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival on February 3,4, and 5 at the Yaarab Shrine Center, a mere 7 tenths of a mile from Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta. The fun started early on Friday when the gym opened at 4 pm. By dinner time (delicious chicken and rice by Warung Restaurant, which closed its store just to help us for the weekend) it was filled with jugglers practicing, passing clubs, and greeting old friends. The gym stayed open until 11 pm, but by 10:30 only about 40 of us remained.
Saturday started at 10 am with a healthy mix of old and new faces, and some reasonably spectacular individual practice on the gym floor. A few yo-yoists even joined in the fun during the afternoon.
The Seed and Feed Marching Abominable Band opened the 2 pm competition, with soloists performing for the first time in memory during their glorious concert. Nine acts and eleven competitors contended for the Coveted Phil trophy, including yo-yoist Abby Brodsky (Baltimore MD), amazing ball juggler Ella Catanzaro (Silver Springs MD) and several performers well below drinking age. The three civilian judges (Anna, Eileen, and Lillian, last names redacted to protect the guilty) had a difficult task in awarding the trophies. Highlights included a dropless club juggling act by David DiMuzio (Nashville TN) and a very clever "Ice Cream Man" performance by our own Caleb Black (Decatur GA). Harry & Harrison (Harry Charles, Harrison Kendree, Rock Hill SC) took Most Groovy with a comedic routine involving some serious piano playing. Short Circuit (Ben and Shelby Lipman, Sterling NJ) were judged Most Dazzling for their very entertaining father and daughter juggling and gymnastics act. Atticus Abraham (Crossville, TN) was Most Sensational for a technically challenging piece with clubs and balls. Atticus also is the nephew of a previous Phil competition winner, Barry Abraham, in 1986 and 1987. Jasper Murphy (Austin TX) did the lively breakout routine in striped prison garb with handcuffed clubs showing he is not a prisoner of gravity. Above bar example of poetry in motion was Louella Whitaker (Philadelphia PA) dancing while juggling balls in a beautiful gym routine. Kathryn Carr (Ellicott City MD) performed some wonderful light-up club work while the judges deliberated.
Most of the juggling games kicked off at noon, except for club and ball combat which started at 6 pm. Dan Brown (Altamonte Springs FL) had a very good day, winning both club and ball combat as well as 3 ball simon says and 5 ball endurance. The 5 ball endurance was decided between the last two contestants with a successful 3-up pirouette. Jasper Murphy (Austin, TX) also had a good day with wins in club balancing, quarter juggling, huggling, and blind juggling.
The 9 pm Cabaret was well attended, with Tim Settimi (Atlanta, GA) providing a ukelele overture. Jeff Bradley (Jacksonville FL) handled MC duties as well as performing 'comedy and stunts' throughout. Other highlights included perennial favorite Larry Vaksman (Philadelphia PA), Zared Henry (Johnson City TN) presenting some fun beatboxing, and Iman Lizarazu (Santa Cruz CA)showing a curious clown act involving a doll which mirrored her appearance. Dan Howard received the famed Mouse Award this year.
Sunday featured more juggling and workshops, some of over 20 held through the weekend on topics including club passing, site swaps, 3 and 5 ball juggling, as well as softer skills like 'Growing the Juggling Community' and 'How to Win a Phil'. By 4 pm the last of us were staggering around the floor, sweeping up and putting together the usual gigantic lost & found box. Around 24 people ate at the Post-Groundhog dinner in a private room at Manuels Tavern. By about 7 pm Sunday night it was time to go home and get some sleep.