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