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Jest Fest!, a celebration of merriment, begins in April


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They are the Jongleur Jugglers and they will be performing at Jest Fest. In the pics that I sent they were practicing out on the Bo Diddley Plaza. The guy in the vest is Michael Stillwell, AKA Magic Mike, and the other guy is John Creveling.
John Creveling (left) and Michael Stillwell (right), AKA Magic Mike, practice juggling colorful rings at Bo Diddley Community Plaza. The Jongleur Jugglers will perform at Jest Fest!.

Jest Fest!, a monthlong event featuring jugglers, jokesters, magicians and acrobats, will begin April 6.

Gainesville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department is bringing a host of variety acts to Bo Diddley Community Plaza for the entire month of April. All events are free and open to the public.

Each Saturday night in April from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be a new act featured on the Bo Diddley Community Plaza located at 111 E. University Ave.

David Ballard, director for Jest Fest!, said April is going to be a month of merriment.

“We like to call it a celebration of laughter,” he said.

Ballard encourages families to bring their children along as well. He emphasized how unique each night’s acts will be.

The idea for Jest Fest! formed from Ballard’s career as a master puppeteer and what he calls a professional fool. After winning a Tourist Project Development Grant from Alachua County, Jest Fest! planning began. Ballard started to call potential acts, some he’d previously performed with.

The Flying Wallendas, a family famous for stunts like the seven person pyramid, will headline the event. The performers are also known for their medley of circus events such as juggling, acrobatics, clowning and their daring aerial stunts.

The Wallendas will do an hourlong circus performance.

In addition to several acts brought in from out of town, Jest Fest! will also feature local favorites, such as The Jongleur Jugglers.

Michael Stillwell, also known locally as Magic Mike, and John Creveling have been juggling together for more than 20 years. They perform several times a year for various events including the Hoggetown Medieval Fair.

Stillwell said he is excited to get the audience involved in their performance.

“We’re going to try to juggle as much audience involvement as we can,” Stillwell said.

Both Stillwell and Creveling said they keep juggling for the fun, competition and variety that comes with their performance.

One of their most memorable moments juggling together was when they won second place in 1989 at the International Jugglers’s Association convention, an organization of individuals dedicated to promoting juggling.

“I like for people to say “Well, I’ve seen juggling before but I never seen that kind of comedy and juggling together,”” said one of the members of  The Jongleur Jugglers.

The annual “Free Fridays” concert series, which features musicians of all types, will also begin at the Bo Diddley Plaza every Friday from April to November. For more information on both of these events, visit www.gvlculturalaffairs.org.

Audreyanna Loguerre wrote this story online. 

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