Jest Fest! will debut this spring as a new free, family friendly event produced by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department.
Captive audiences, innocent bystanders, gawkers, curious on-lookers and pleasure seekers will be stricken with contagious, uncontrollable laughter caught from the antics of “world-famous, internationally known” cirque and variety type acts such as jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, balancers, clowns, mimes, puppeteers and high-wire artists, as well as an assemblage of other highly talented but “internationally unknown, totally un-famous” rubes, scoundrels, sillies and daring-do performers seeking their first standard rich and famous contracts. These laughable buffoons will “strut and fret their time upon the stage” at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza each Saturday night in April from 6-8 p.m., highlighting the virtues of hilarity.
April 1 is traditionally observed in the USA and some other countries as April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day as it is also called. According to City event planner David Ballard, “We thought it would be fun to encourage a light hearted celebration of laughter for the entire month of April. We hope that as the festival grows, other organizations, businesses and individuals will join in and also plan comedy themed events in April for an area wide convergence of merriment.”
Jest Fest! is funded in part by a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council. The Bo Diddley Community Plaza is located on the corner of Southeast First Street and East University Avenue.
Jest Fest! is seeking volunteers! To inquire about participating in Jest Fest, create a Jest Fest! associated event or for more information, please contact David Ballard at 352-393-8746.
Each Saturday night will feature entirely different entertainers, so to enjoy all that Jest Fest! has to offer, patrons will need to attend all four evenings. Some of the "world-famous" acts traveling to Gainesville to perform include:
April 6: (view photos)
All ages were entertained by the fascinating Walking TreeMan, amazing Cirikli Stilt Birds, and the comedic juggling of Todd Key.
April 13: (view photos)
Audiences were greeted by Barbara and Ina with their living and breathing human statue exhibition, and Lynn Polke Rainbow Tiger Circus. All agens were entertained by Ken Silkie's hilarious audience interactive show, An Evening at the Opera with Bob and, from Paris, the internationally noted silent clown Arsene Dupin performing his Magikhana show.
April 20: (view photos)
The fun continued with Marc Dobson's walking one man band and Magical Mystical Michael's "cool magic" show.
April 27: Join this event on Facebook
For the festival grand finale, the famous circus family, The Flying Wallendas will perform a medley of circus arts including aerial acrobatics on the flying cloudswing, a fast and furious display of juggling and slapstick comedy clowning, all culminating with their world acclaimed expertise, daring acrobatic feats on the high-wire.
Numerous local artists and groups will also be showcased at Jest Fest!:
A short preview of the Hippodrome Theatre's upcoming action-filled, comedy production of Robin Hood was presented.
The Fort Clarke Middle School Fresh Trash Advanced Percussion group made a guest appearance, while the Jongleur Jugglers performed onstage with help from kids in the audience!
April 27: Join this event on Facebook
The Greenwood Morris Dancers will dance for the audience, Magic Mike will be featured onstage, as well as an interactive puppet and mask procession with giant puppets from Santa Fe College Theatre, Rainbow Tiger Circus, Alachua County Public Schools art students, Moxie Puppets and the Thomas Center Theatre for Young Audiences.
Special thanks to Downtown Hampton Inn and Best Western Gateway Grand
for providing the City discounted room rates for Jest Fest entertainers.
Jest Fest! has been funded in part by a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners
in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourism Development Council.