Carnival showcases performers

Food for the imagination -- a Big Top Tent always draws a curious crowd to see what thrills and excitement they will find inside.

Dr. Von Houligan’s Carnival of Calamities escape artist and fire-eater Lexi Grimm can get out of a straight jacket faster than she can get into her makeup.

Dr. Von Houligan’s Carnival of Calamities came to Greenwood last week and will play in Grand Forks this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26.

The carnival showcases performers from across Canada and allows them to hone their skills while bringing live entertainment to small communities.

According to their website, Dr. Von Houligan’s Carnival of Calamities is focused on bringing joy and excitement to smaller communities across Canada, providing affordable family fun while honouring the traditions of the circus.

Lexi Grimm, who says she has been performing for 14 years, works the stage as an escape artist and fire-eater. Kaila Payne is the contortionist and magician’s assistant.

Ringmaster Allister Denton started his performing career as a juggler. He then added some tricks to his repertoire and soon found himself in demand as a stage magician.

“Everyone just wanted to hire me for magic but I was trying to work on my street performing career,” recalled Denton. “I got sidelined into that. And I spent many years developing the magic and developing the shows and for the last seven or eight years I have been trying to sell these shows to fairs, theatres, arts councils all over this country.

I found out I spent a lot of money. I put a lot of travelling and I didn’t do that many shows.

“I was always happiest when I was on the stage and I found out for every hour I was on the stage I used to do five hours of practice. Then it was down to where I didn’t need to practice as much for those extra hours of practice was developing new stuff.

“Then I started trying to sell the show and found I was spending thousands of dollars and for every hour I was onstage I was spending 30 hours trying to book the show; and spending thousands of dollars. I found that I was either breaking even or losing money every year that way.”

And so a bus and big-top tent was purchased and Dr. Von Houligan’s Carnival was born. They started their tour last spring in Alberta, first heading east and then doubling back and are now looking toward the last few weeks of their season here in B.C.

It’s a lifestyle one could learn to appreciate. “We work for two days so we can perform for two days,” explained Lexi.


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