Category Archives: Napa Town & Country Fair

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.”

    The Kids Are In The Ring


    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!”…

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    Back to the Wine Country!

    Napa,CA: Hello everybody! Circus Imagination is here at the 2012 Napa Town & Country Fair! The fair is located at 575 Third Street, Napa, California 94559 and it goes on until next Sunday. HOURS are
    Wednesday through Sunday from NOON – 10PM. Click here for the SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
    or here for the

    Wednesday through Saturday NOON- MIDNIGHT and Sunday NOON – 10PM.


    Adults $ 13.00
    Juniors (age 6-12) $ 10.00
    Seniors (age 60+) $ 10.00
    Kids (5 & under)FREE

    Senior’s Day
    Wednesday, August 8th
    Seniors 60 and up just $ 8.00

    Kid’s Day
    Thursday, August 9th
    Kids 12 and under admitted FREE
    Parking $ 10.00

    We had a wonderful time on our first day of the fair! Our show times for the duration of this event are:

    3PM – 5:30PM & 7:30PM

    So if you want to run away and join the circus come on over, Circus Imagination is located right by the main walk-in entrance underneath the yellow & blue Big Top!

    Here are some pictures of our volunteers for today!

    Here we go again!

    Napa, CA: Hello kids! Today is the last day of the 2011 Napa Town & Country Fair.
    Circus Imagination had three shows today, first one at 3 PM was the biggest! CLICK HERE to watch a short video of little Tina the Tight Rope Walker and her awesome balancing skills!
    Second circus of the day was at 5:30 PM and we had a bunch of ‘come-backers’ to volunteer and cheer our audience up!
    Last circus show of the fair was at 7:30 PM and it featured Tina the Tight Rope Walker, Wild Animal Trainer with his troop of ferocious animals and the amazing Human Cannon Ball!
    Circus Imagination is so happy to be part of the 2011 Napa Town & Country Fair. We would like to thank the community for all the support and also all the kids that volunteered and watched our show! Thank you for all your laughter and joy!
    We hope to see you again next year!
    Here we go again! Next fair: Antelope County Fair!

    Circus the day away!

    Napa, CA: Howdy Ho! Today was another beautiful day here at the 2011 Napa Town & Country Fair. Circus Imagination’s first show was at 3 PM and we had Tina the Tight Rope Walker, Wild Animal Trainer and his troop of ferocious animals, Champagne Sisters all the way from Paris, France, the amazing Cowboy and the Human CannonBall!
    Second and third shows of the day were at 5:30 PM & 7:30 PM and they both had cute highlights. In one circus we had a 2 year-old monkey that went through the Holla-loop of fire  holding hands with his ‘big’ 5 year-old sister – so adorable! In the other circus we had the final full-circle performance of an ‘all-time volunteer’. Let me explain, she has pretty much been every part possible in the show throughout this fair – as long as the costume fits – and on this last show she was Tina the Tight Rope Walker! (a part we usually save for younger girls, but there are no restrictions!) – She’s the girl with the butterfly face – our own exclusive circus face painting design!
    Well that’s it for today! See you later alligator!


    Circus lions with attitude!

    Napa, CA:  Oh-hoy-hoy folks! Today Circus Imagination featured three shows at 3 PM, 5:30 PM & 7:30 PM at the 2011 Napa Town & Country Fair!
    We had a total of 48 volunteers, from ages 2 and a half to 15 years-old. The circus had Tight Rope Walkers, Wild Animal Trainers, Clowns and Butterfly Ballerinas, amazingly talented Cowboys & Cowgirls, Human Cannon Balls and of course: Lions with attitude, funny leopards, disobedient elephants and crazy monkeys! Check out some of the highlights of the day below!
    See you this weekend at the fair!


    Back in Napa Valley

    Napa, CA: Hello everyone! Circus Imagination is now at the Napa Town & Country Fair! Yesterday was opening day an everything seemed perfect, at least for us: The temperature was around the 70’s and the circus tent is located beside the FREE Clover Ice Cream Booth for the duration of the fair!
    The first show of the day was at 3 PM and we had Tina the Tight Rope Walker, Marquina the Wild animal trainer and her troop of ferocious lions, elephants and leopards, Champagne Sisters from Paris, France and the talented 6 year-old Keyra from Napa, CA as Calamity Oakley the Cowgirl. Check out her picture below. Second and third shows followed at 5:30 PM and
    7:30 PM, both with 4 acts each and about 10 volunteers per show.
    Today is kids day at the 2011 Napa Town & Country Fair, that means we had more than enough volunteers all day to fill up all our acts and performances! And that makes us happy! First show was at 3 PM and brought the biggest crowd, check out the picture below of Tina the Tight Rope Walker and the big enthusiastic audience behind her.
    Second show of Thursday was at 5:30 PM and it was a great circus with an awesome loud audience and about 20 volunteers in the show!
    Third show of the day, at 7:30 PM featured Tina thoe Tight Rope Walker, Butterfly Ballerinas and Clarence the Clown, Calamity Oakley the Cowgirl, Champagne Sisters from Paris, France (Performed by two adorabable and funny local teenagers who totally cracked us up! See their picture below) and the amazing Human Cannon Ball!
    Well that’s it for today! Come see us at the 2011 Napa Town & Country Fair located at 575 3rd Street, Napa, CA 94559-2701. For information about the fair call (707) 253- 49 00. 
    You can find Circus Imagination right by the fair entrance, underneath the giant yellow & blue Big Top everyday at 3 PM, 5:30 PM & 7:30 PM!