En­ter­tain­ers spice up Taste of Nor­folk

Simcoe Reformer - - NEWS - MONTE SONNENBERG

The Nor­folk County Fair pro­vided a glimpse of the big time this week­end to an aspir­ing aeri­al­ist.

Ju­lia Withers, 19, of Lu­can, en­joyed many rounds of ap­plause at the Simcoe Re­cre­ation Cen­tre Satur­day and Sun­day dur­ing two ex­hi­bi­tions of the aeri­al­ist’s art.

Withers is also a con­tor­tion­ist and a tum­bler. She has been hon­ing her skills since she be­gan ac­ro­batic dance lessons at the age of three. Her goal is to per­form with Cirque de Soleil, an al­ter­na­tive show­case for unique feats of phys­i­cal prow­ess and der­ring-do.

Withers per­formed dur­ing prime time on the fair’s Taste of Nor­folk stage. Lori Broughton, chair of the fair’s In­side- Out com­mit­tee, dis­cov­ered Withers while scout­ing tal­ent last year at the Western Fair in London.

Broughton told the crowd Sun­day that Withers’ skill, grace and choice of mu­sic brought her to tears. She con­vinced Withers to bring her act to Nor­folk.

“It was some­thing I had never seen be­fore,” Broughton said. “It was beau­ti­ful. It was stun­ning and im­pres­sive.”

Withers has taken in­struc­tion on sev­eral oc­ca­sions at the Na­tional Cir­cus School in Mon­treal. She in­tends to au­di­tion one day for Cirque de Soleil.

Withers says what she does is an art form and her pre­ferred means of ex­pres­sion.

“Some peo­ple ex­press them­selves through song,” Withers said. “I ex­press my­self through th­ese rou­tines.”

Withers was one of many acts per­form­ing in the Taste of Nor­folk venue dur­ing this year’s fair.

Oth­ers in­cluded live trib­ute acts to great per­form­ers such as Cher, David Bowie, Madonna, Neil Di­a­mond, Tina Turner, Ste­vie Won­der, Lady Gaga, Chicago and El­ton John.

Lo­cal acts per­form­ing dur­ing day-light hours in­cluded the Gen­tle­men of Har­mony, Small Town Girls Coun­try Evo­lu­tion, Feli­cia McMinn, and or­ches­tras from Holy Trin­ity in Simcoe and Simcoe Com­pos­ite School among sev­eral oth­ers.

Taste of Nor­folk had ac­com­mo­da­tions for about 300 vis­i­tors. The for­mat calls to mind the old Ro­man dic­tum that bread-and-cir­cuses never go out of style.

Taste of Nor­folk is the lat­est phase in the evo­lu­tion of Eat-and-Drink Nor­folk. The lat­ter started out sev­eral years ago as an an­nual fundraiser for the fair in the off­sea­son. Due to pop­u­lar de­mand, the Eat-and-Drink con­cept was in­cor­po­rated into the fair, with live en­ter­tain­ment, a few years back.

Wendy Brick, head of mar­ket­ing and pub­lic­ity for the fair, says Taste of Nor­folk is a proven win­ner.

Even as the Tim Hicks con­cert on Fri­day and the Chad Brown­lee con­cert on Satur­day played to a sold­out grand­stand, Taste of Nor­folk did a brisk busi­ness with lo­cal wine, beer, cider and lo­cal fin­ger food.

“Peo­ple wanted us to do Eat-and-Drink Nor­folk once a month, it was so pop­u­lar,” Brick said Sun­day. “So we fi­nally said `Let’s bring it to the fair.’ Even when Hicks and Brown­lee were sold out, the turnout here was re­ally im­pres­sive.”

Lo­cal brew­ers and winer­ies rep­re­sented at Taste of Nor­folk in­clude New Lim­burg, Ram­blin’ Road, Blue­berry Hill Win­ery, Frisky Beaver, and the Home­town Brew Com­pany. The Coun­try Fork Restau­rant in Port Rowan served up the snacks.

“I would say the crowds have been steady,” Coun­try Fork ven­dor Denise Block said. “It wasn’t crazy busy Satur­day and Sun­day. But it’s been steady.” MSon­nen­berg@post­media.com

MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE RE­FORMER

Aeri­al­ist Ju­lia Withers, 19, of Lu­can, per­formed Satur­day and Sun­day at the Taste of Nor­folk venue dur­ing the 177th Nor­folk County Fair.

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