Bognor Clown festival ’13 – my write-up

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When I was a child this is the place I first saw clowns, lots of them! Of course there was the local clown heroes from my town that I would help & follow all year round but only at a clown festival do you see at least 100 the biggest in 1991 there were around 800, as the US World Clown Association joined forces with the UK’s Clowns International. Sadly for Bognor Regis, this year was to be the last to be held within Butlins resort. With endings often bring new beginnings & Butlins must be thanked for their continued support over the years. The show must go on! & 2013 Clowns weekend was one of the best since restarting in 09. This time Zaz wasn’t just on the list for shows & the usual fun but was one of the organisers & yes it’s a tough job organising 100 clowns! After many plain clothes visits to Bognor for meetings with both Butlins & the Town Council it was great to see it all happen & fall in to place. We the organising team were lucky that we already had a good formula in place set by the previous organisers & could then add to that. I arrived in Bognor Monday morning & the school tours were under way. We dealt with any press interested in the clowns event. Over the weekend I spoke to, spirit fm, meridian news, the local Bognor observer & the Sunday times, all very interested lets hope the coverage helps to find a new venue for a UK clowns festival? Once all had arrived we enjoyed a social/training day with workshops of interest to us clowns. Butlins began to fill with guests to the maximum with some great families visiting from all over UK. This year we put on 2 shows at the local Regis centre theatre. A tea time children’s show & our evening gala show. On the Monday I had met with the theatre box office to see how the tickets were selling, as we had hoped that a low price children’s show would appeal to many local families. Only! 80 had been sold. Time for plan b, with the help of some junior clowns we went to the schools at home-time to see mum direct……as parents picked up their children we reminded them that it was In fact clowns weekend & there was lots of stuff for the kids to do & see! This must have worked & 180 came to the tea time show. Zaz was first on stage & truly wonderful feeling to be performing to many children, in the theatre that I had watched so many clowns performing myself aged 7-12. Like a flash my time was up & I handed over to my other performing clown friends for 3 more different acts including Toto who had come all the way from USA be part of the festival.

599003_567651853253769_309511446_nAfter the show all the families left the Regis centre with happy faces601568_10200636688350394_884817994_n! There was a quick change over as guests & off duty clowns soon began to arrive for the gala show, the 1st CI has put on in quite some time & I’m glad we did. Some, I’m sure felt many good old memory’s from the original convention days back 20 years ago…..The show was great & all the acts had something different to share, personally I only saw parts of the show as I was a busy helping back stage & then variety juggling veteran, Michael Pearse thanked me after his very funny comedy juggling spot then said that he was off now to walk to the station he was upgraded to a lift during the 2nd half in the van, that’s show biz! Flat hat a English clown living in France closed the show wonderfully with his european traditional theatre style that can only take years in the making. After the show it was great to celebrate a good evening & remember the old day’s in a local bar on the seafront.

295626_567655056586782_1252922767_nDSC_3181482846_567653926586895_446811539_nDSC_3127photos thanks to Bethany harris. Up & out for an early start sat morning to set-up the mini circus in the skyline for short clown shows & the highlight being the juniors clowns show! A good mix of different aged “clown Kidz” & they all did a really great performance! As they all live in different parts of the country they individually did there acts, just like real clowns do! If they continue like this they will become great clowns when they are older. With so much happening in Butlins Saturday went fast! One of my faverate clowns Hal Brooks, now retired but still putting smiles on kids & parents faces even with-out a clown face. He has written a book about his life as a clown. He always tells me….Write it down Zaz!! Write it down!! I hope he reads my blog, Hal is probably my oldest friend on Facebook I’m proud to say! That evening awards were given out to some including me, yes I was awarded the sunflower award for helping & being a long standing member of CI, each year the club makes a new pin badge. As part of this award I must design next years badge …clowns ARE Cool perhaps?! Sunday morning clown vicar Roly arranged the usual clowns church service and the sun came out just in time for the Parade. A fantastic 25 piece samba band drummed its way through the streets of the town followed by the clowns. The public had really come out to show their support for perhaps the last ever clown parade in the town who knows?

Let’s hope Bognor never forgets the time the clowns came to stay….. over the years the festival has promoted the town, given many happy times to the local people & holiday visitors. Not forgetting all those that were inspired enough to wanna be real clowns as a life & career, like myself & Clumbsy who now is touring with John Lawson’s Circus. Thanks Bognor Regis & all those who took part it was fun!

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