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Festival aims to stretch children's imaginations

May 24, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - You'll find no sequins at Benjamin Sota's circus.

Nor will there be any death-defying stunts or crazy contortions, said Sota, a Pittsburgh-based circus performer who is the main act for the Renfrew Institute's 18th annual Youth Festival on Sunday, May 27, at the Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies.

"I like to call what I do 'fantastical realism,'" Sota said. "It's not Barnum and Bailey. It's not sequins. It's realistic. It's not a daredevil circus."

The Youth Festival typically draws 300 visitors, said Tracy Holliday, Renfrew's assistant director. Renfrew specializes in educational programs for children and serves roughly 10,000 Tri-State-area students per year, Holliday said.

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At Renfrew, Sota's 45-minute solo show will involve unicycle tricks and juggling, among other things. Sota said he'll be teaching children how to walk on a ball just before the program.

"It's a lot easier for kids," he said. "They have a lower center of gravity."

Sota, 26, is the founder of the Zany Umbrella Circus, an eight-person troupe with a folksy theme. Their performances typically involve puppetry, music, street theater and live music. The idea is to bring everyday objects to life, Sota said.

Sota said Sunday's solo show, "My Grandfather's Circus," was written in memory of his grandfather, John Hamilton, who taught him to juggle and inspired him to join the circus as a teenager.

Other activities at the festival include craft making, face painting, live animals and more.

For more information, call Renfrew at 717-762-0373.




Renfrew Institute's 18th annual Youth Festival schedule

1 p.m. - Dive Into a Creative Journey, with Kim Sheffler. Make a treasure to take home. Participants must register by calling 717-762-0373.

1 to 3 p.m. - Hands-on Activities, including:

Create an Aquatic Wonder with Tom McFarland.

Earthwalker Gets Wet Feet! with Melodie Anderson-Smith. Stream exploration of Antietam Creek. Bring creek shoes and a towel. Ages 8 and older.

Get "Crabby" with Karen Manderson! Bring two old CDs to make a crustacean creature.

Get swimmingly decked out in your personally designed fish-print T-shirt, with Beth Angles. Bring your own cotton T-shirt to decorate. All ages.

Splashy Spring Shower Flowers, with Cookie Beck and Jill and Emily Morningstar.

Meet Rudolf Lemperg, author of "My Farm at Goose Pond." Learn about some critters that gather around his pond.

Fill the Bill, with Dottie and Laura Fawks. Find out what chopsticks, tweezers, eyedroppers and nutcrackers have in common, and learn how birds eat and drink.

2 p.m. - Waynesboro Children's Theatre Troupe performs tunes ranging from disco to country.

4:15 p.m. - "My Grandfather's Circus," a performance by Benjamin Sota, who will lead a workshop teaching circus skills before the show.

Daylong activities:

Frantz family's "gentle giants," Belgian draft horses

Pets on display and adoption information provided by Antietam Humane Society Friends

Face painting

Barnyard Buddies, a petting zoo

Scavenger hunt. Activity will teach water conservation strategies that can be used at home.

"Clothesline" exhibit featuring wacky bathing suits




If you go ...



WHAT: Renfrew Institute's 18th annual Youth Festival

WHEN: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 27

WHERE: Renfrew Museum and Park, 1010 E. Main St., Waynesboro Pa.

COST: Free

MORE: Food will be for sale. Certain activities require registration. Call 717-762-0373 for more information. In the event of rain, events will be held at Waynesboro Area Middle School, 702 E. Second St., Waynesboro.

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