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Carnies coming to     curbsides near you

February 6th, 2021Carnies coming to curbsides near you

HER stage name portrays her perfectly – Sophie deLightful. And delightful she is. While thousands of Victorian artists and performers were starved of work and an income, Sophie turned a negative (she had a double whammy – an entertainer and a home-based travel agent) into a positive and was the inspiration behind pop-up circus Curbside Carnies.

On a mission to find any grants available during lockdown, Sophie phoned, emailed and connected with local governments across the state. And she wasn’t going to give up on her mission to find seed funding.
She had a perfect opportunity to create a pop-up circus act that could be rolled out to regional Victoria – post-lockdown of course. The act needed to engage local artists, delight performance-starved crowds and, most importantly, add a little joy after a pretty tough year.
Sophie had nothing to lose. She had time on her hands and knew she just needed to make it happen.


And Sophie’s determination paid off. With grant funding available but with the state in lockdown, councils across the state (including Hepburn, Banyule, Yarra Ranges, Whittlesea and Port Phillip) welcomed the chance to fund a unique and timely project – and Curbside Circus was born.
“I started planning a portable stage with the help of friends. Originally, I had an idea to make something that I could take to festivals for my roving cabaret show and then COVID hit and a small amount of funding from an arts festival grant allowed me to build a small, portable stage. At the start I joked in conversation that I’d roll it around the local neighbourhoods and perform in front of people’s windows during lockdown.


“I wanted to provide an opportunity to take the circus on the road and use local artists as part of the show. It gives artists work, helps local economies and gives people wonderful entertainment and a great little escape – for free. And given it’s outdoors, it’s COVID-safe which is something we all have had to manage as artists and performers.”
Local artists including Daylesford’s own unicycle juggler Sam Hrycrow as The Amazing Mr Fish, Ballarat’s hand balancer Erika Hansson and Castlemaine’s hula hooper Nicola Hall, will join Sophie as part of Circus Carnies.


“It seems logical to perform with the same three artists at each Curbside Carnies outing. But locally sourcing each cast is a way to showcase local talent and give them an opportunity to perform after such a long break between jobs.”
Sophie is no stranger to the region. She has been holidaying here and visiting friends for years. But, despite her familiarity with the region, she said she has been overwhelmed with the response to her initiative, reflecting that the region’s response to the circus was incredibly supportive.
“Giving back to local communities was the main reason for me starting this venture and as soon as I put out a message, there were so many positive messages of support and so many people eager to tell me about local artists across the Macedon and Hepburn regions,” she said.


The Daylesford-Creswick-Glenlyon leg of Curbside Carnies kicks off at the Creswick Skate Park this Sunday (February 7) at 11am. Curbside Carnies will then head to Lake Daylesford where Sophie and our home-grown circus talent will perform at 2pm before heading to the Glenlyon Hall for a final show at 4pm.

Pictured Daylesford’s Sam Hrycrow aka the Amazing Mr Fish, Castlemaine hula hooper Nicola Hall and Curbside Carnies’ Sophie deLightful
Words: Narelle Groenhout
Images: Contributed and Elise Mezner



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