Poised with showmanship and smiles from a platform two stories high, they waited for Willie to get in position.
The audience watched with hushed breath as Charley climbed onto a bird-like perch and in one swift move, launch herself into the sky holding on to a mere bar.
Charley swung hard to gain momentum and then trusting that Willie would catch her, she let go of the bar.
As Willie caught Charley by her wrists, the crowd reacted.
In another swift yet powerful swing, Charley, now released from Willie’s grasp, twirled through the air and in perfect timing caught her trapeze bar back to the platform and her partners.
Amidst cheering and whistles, The Shooting Stars Aerial Thrill Show thrilled audiences at the 142 annual Kutztown Fair.
Jaime Stemko, Kutztown, said, “It was pretty awesome, a little scary, it was quite amazing.”
Larry O’Donnell, Kutztown, goes to the Kutztown Fair every year and said this year’s feature entertainment was by far the best.
“That was absolutely fantastic. It was nice to see something new; you know what I mean? It was really awesome; great,” O’Donnell said.
Mary Gotshall, Kutztown, said, “As a parent in this economy when you can get in for $8 and have your kids have a whole evening of fun for that price, you can’t beat it.”
Larry Seaman, vendor chairperson, explained how the fair committee was able to secure the feature act.
“We go every year to Hershey to the convention where they pick up all the acts and everything,” said Seaman.
Earl Leiby, fair entertainment committee member, said they tried different things the last couple of years, but it seemed like the crowd liked aerial the best for Kutztown.
“It’s funny; Kutztown people come and tell ya,” Leiby said and laughed. “They’re not shy.”
Leiby also said it was at the last minute they were able to get the aerial act for this year’s fair.
This was the first time for the Shooting Stars to perform together having come from different parts of the country. According to performer Matt Viverito, St. Louis, Missouri, The Flying Pages are a circus family that has multiple units doing shows all over the country using artists who have prior circuit experience.
“I’ve been a family friend of the Pages for almost 10 years now,” said Viverito. “A lot of us went to Florida State where they have a circus program where we learned a little bit of skills and then we come here and they kind of supplement what we already learned.”
Nicole Fearnbach, New Jersey, gave a little insight into her thoughts whenever she grabs hold of the trapeze bar and launches off of the platform.
“Definitely always smile, look nice, and make sure you sell it to the crowd because that’s the most important part is making sure everybody else has fun.”
According to Viverito, you do it so many times that there’s really no fear. You’re not worried about your safety; it’s automatic. You have to make it look easy so the important part is presenting it. You’ve done it so many times that it’s ingrained into you; it’s automatic.
It took the troop anywhere from two to five years to learn the skills needed to continue their learning on the circuit. Charley Leonard, Florida, joined Sailor Circus in Sarasota, Fla., when she was in third grade. She didn’t start the flying trapeze until two years ago.
“Thank you for coming to see us. It’s been a lot of fun so far,” said Fearnbach told the crowd from her perch.
The Shooting Stars are aimed for Newport, Pennsylvania for their next act. They are performing together as a troupe for now with the hopes of joining another troupe for a bigger show.