Napa Valley Register story

Napa Town & Country Fair

Under the ‘little big top’ at Napa’s Town & Country Fair

  • Ringmaster and the Champagne Sisters @ Circus Imagination

    Bubble Station @ Clown College our kids activity area

    Talking lions, flying monkeys and human cannonballs right here in Napa? That’s right. At the Town & Country Fair, children can be or do anything and, for at least this week, they can even be the star of the show with a little help from Circus Imagination‘s Ringmaster Caton Raintree-Hegwer.

    With his exaggerated facial expressions and voice, the top-hat-wearing ringmaster lures families into his family’s “little big top” circus for pretend play that keeps children engaged and parents laughing.

    Raintree-Hegwer says that children wanting to be in the show should sit in the front row and show off a giant smile and they’ll “almost guaranteed to be part of the circus.”

    During Thursday’s afternoon show, children eager to participate were dressed up in costumes made by Raintree-Hegwer’s wife, Carolina, and paraded into the center of the ring during each of their acts.

    The acts have names like “Tina the Tight Rope Walker” and “Sandow the Strong.” In one act, “Marco the Lion Tamer,” one child dressed in a safari outfit takes the stage with some lions, tigers and bears. Then, before the show is over, the “Champagne Sisters,” decked out in sequin hats and shawls, work together to launch a monkey into a bucket.

    “Everyone’s heard of a barrel of monkeys, We have a bucket of monkeys!” Raintree-Hegwer told the crowd as he prepared each primate for launching. The sweet, silly humor wasn’t lost on adults who laughed as he made references to Costco and the “supersize it” phenomenon.

    Giselle Gallegos, 6, who played one of the Parisian sisters, said that it was just like playing pretend at home except with an audience. She even had a piece of advice for other potential circus performers:

    “I would say don’t be nervous because it’s always fun to at least try.”

    Giselle’s mom, Elsa, said she enjoyed the Circus Imagination experience.

    “I thought it was really cool that they interact with the kids and show them to be able to use their imagination,” she said. Everything they did in the show, she said, the kids could do at home. The fair in general, she said, is a great opportunity to bond with your children before they return to school.

    “We really love the idea of supporting fairs,” said Raintree-Hegwer, calling them “very Americana.”Raintree-Hegwer has been working in the fair business for almost 35 years. His father started Circus Imagination in 1984 when Raintree-Hegwer was just a child.

    “My dad used to use me as a plant and stick me out in the audience” to be the first child to raise his hand to participate. Once the other kids saw how excited he was, he said, they’d all want to join in. Raintree-Hegwer said that his daughter, who is 2, might end up doing something similar if the audience is particularly reserved or nervous.

    Helping children overcome their nervousness is part of the show, he said.

    “We like to help with that,” Raintree-Hegwer said. “We’re not gonna let them fail.”

    Back when his dad ran the show, he said, the purpose was to give children the opportunity for free play in addition to get them out of the house and moving. Now, he said, that concept has evolved with the times.

    “The whole idea is that we get kids active, outdoors and interacting with other kids away from screens,” Raintree-Hegwer said. “Show them how fun reality is.”

    2 new TENTS: Clown College

    Somerset, CA: Hello Ladies and Jellybeans!

    Clown College is the activity area extension of Circus Imagination. There we have a variety of interactive and monitored children activities such as giant soap bubbles, hula hoop lessons, stilts, basic juggling, a maze and new things to come soon!

    clown-college-promo

    Here’s a picture of one of our two new beautifully colored tents for Clown College. They measure 20 x 20 feet, are slightly smaller than the Circus Imagination tent and  have three different colors! This was the first time it got set up in our backyard this past weekend.

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    If you want to learn more about Clown College go to http://circusimagination.com/clowncollege.html 

    If you want to check it out, in 2016 we are confirmed, so far, to be at these events: Amador County Fair and Western Idaho Fair.

     

     

    The Flying Circus ->NEW ACT

    We took everyone’s favorite game ANGRY BIRDS and turned into a real life game! Actually,  into a new Circus Imagination act!
    Hanz & Franz are our strong man from Germany in a quest to free the runaway piggie from livestock. To assist them with this chore we have a very advanced piece of German artillery: a slingshot. Starring as the main stars of this Flying Circus act are the angry lion, the angry bear and the angry tiger! If their aim fails there’s a football shaped angry giraffe to come save the day!
    Here’s a video: https://youtu.be/wylm62tF2wU

    The Kids Are In The Ring

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    Howard Yune/ Napa Valley Register

    Under the not-so-big tent of Circus Imagination, spectators on hay bales could see lions, a lion tamer, tigers and the Champagne Sisters acrobats. Only instead of literal animals and death-defying performers, the circus master, Caton Raintree-Hegwer, called for little volunteers from the hay-bale bleachers to do more than watch the show – but rather to become, with costumes and make-believe, Tina the Tightrope Walker, Sandow the Strong, Deadeye McBang.

    “We’ll stick a brave dude – or lady – and blast ‘em away before your very own eyes!” Raintree-Hegwer, dressed in a red topcoat and black top hat, shouted in a super-caffeinated patter mixing carnival barker with boxing ring announcer – and sounding much like the boy that Raintree-Hegwer, 36, confesses to still be at heart, nearly 15 years after taking over the traveling attraction from his father.

    “When I pick up the microphone,

    I’m 10 years old again, playing make-believe with my friends,” said Raintree-Hegwer, who leads up to 300 performances a year in the Western states with his wife, Carolina. “It’s not a job so much as it is a lifestyle.”…

    He and Carolina, who are based in Garden Valley in El Dorado County, bring their costumes, props and blue-and-yellow tent to fairs as distant as Hawaii, Washington state and Utah – and to the Napa fair for three performances on each of its five days.

    “The amount of energy we put out to keep up with 30 sugar-hyped kids takes a lot of us, but when you you were a kid, you never thought about how much energy you were using,” he said before Sunday’s first performance. “You were in the moment. You just had fun.

    “What gets me is seeing parents who say, ‘Oh my kids are too shy for this!’ And then they perform excellently, and we’ve opened away to a range of creativity for them.”

    Circus Imagination’s opening show on Sunday reached its climax with the hazardous-sounding Ring of Fire. One by one, the play-acting lions and tigers took their jumps – through a Hula-Hoop strung with flame-red streamers – amid a final round of applause from their parents.

    As the show wound down, the circus master asked one favor of the departing children — that they let their creativity and playfulness flow, rather than go dormant in front of a screen.

    “Don’t just watch TV,” Raintree-Hegwer exhorted his young spectators-turned-performers. “Find some Halloween costumes and things, and find your own circus imagination!”…

    Read the story live at: http://molosyndicate.com/3/1-1329

    Read more here: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/at-napa-fair-circus-the-kids-are-in-the-ring/article_434025d3-c6ee-5768-a529-c6cbae56723d.html