Acrobatic feats of fancy, birds of prey demonstrations, magic shows, and musical performances are some of the highlights awaiting visitors to Van Cortlandt Manor during “Animals & Acrobats,” Croton-on-Hudson’s Memorial Day weekend classic. The event, which features all the trimmings of an early American circus, takes place Saturday-Monday, May 24-26, from 10-5 p.m.
Several performers that were new to the event last year are returning by popular demand, including Jennifer Pena of New Paltz, N.Y., and her Flight of the Raptor experience. She will be demonstrating the power and grace of her birds of prey menagerie. A licensed falconer, Ms. Pena will be sharing her knowledge, experience, and passion for birds of prey during multiple performances on all three days. In between demonstrations, Ms. Pena will be on site throughout the day, taking questions from visitors and showing off her birds.
Also returning this year is the Acrobrats, a four-person team performing acrobatic feats throughout the day, including tumbling, pyramids, stilt dancing, hand balancing, and contortion. They will be joined by slack rope walker Dikki Ellis and Chris Yerlig as Hoopoe the Mime, both returning additions to Animals & Acrobats.
Besides Flight of the Raptor’s birds of prey, Animals & Acrobats will feature Percheron horse and wagon rides and “Large Farm on the Moo-ve,” a program presented by students from the Green Chimneys School in Brewster, N.Y., that features farm animals kids can touch.
Other performers include juggler Will Shaw; magic by “Mr. Bailey”; storyteller April Armstrong; Fred Greenspan’s Punch & Judy Shows; fortune-telling by mystic Glenda Hughes; and musicians Jim Keyes and Felix Farrar. Geordane’s of Irvington will provide picnic food, beverages, and ice cream.
The early American circus tradition, which is brought to life during Animals & Acrobats, originated two hundred years ago when Americans took to the road in great numbers. Each spring and summer men, women, and children left the settled regions of the eastern seaboard, looking for new lands to farm. Scattered among these migrants were a small number of men, and occasionally women, who made a meager living as itinerant entertainers, carrying acts on their backs, or across a saddle, fascinating audiences with entertainment that has been popular for thousands of years.
Admission to the event is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; $6 for children 5-17; and free for children under 5 and Historic Hudson Valley members. Tickets are available online at www.hudsonvalley.org. Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525 South Riverside Avenue (off Route 9) in Croton-on-Hudson. Take the Croton Point Avenue exit from Route 9 and follow the signs. For more information, please call 914-271-8981 or visit www.hudsonvalley.org.