Jest Fest! Features World Famous Entertainers Sunday, March 29


Surely you jest? No, it’s true! Jest Fest!, a free, fun, family-friendly event produced by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department returns this spring Sunday, March 29, from 12-6 p.m. for its third season. Jest Fest! features a stellar lineup of international stars, performing some of the world’s greatest comedy/variety and circus acts.

For the past two years, Jest Fest! was held at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza in downtown Gainesville. This year, the plaza is being renovated and Jest Fest! is moving to Gainesville’s cultural center at the Historic Thomas Center and Gardens. With the move, the festival features five different stages, both indoors and outdoors, and combines all of the wonderful entertainers into one fun-filled festival day. In addition to the entertainment, Jest Fest! also offers a delectable assortment of foods , pony rides, face painting, balloon twisting creations and more.

New this year, Jest Fest! is spotlighting numerous local non-profit arts, charities and public service groups. According to festival director, David Ballard, an events coordinator with the City of Gainesville, “We had the opportunity with the move to the Thomas Center to have a lot more available vendor space at Jest Fest! This gave us the ability to offer free vendor space and cross promotions to many of our area’s non-profit organizations that do so much for the cultural health and well-being of our communities. We encourage everyone who attends Jest Fest! to take the time to visit with these wonderful organizations and find out more about their excellent programs and services!” Visit the Cultural Affairs website at and click on the Jest Fest! button to see the groups that have partnered with Jest Fest! so far.

Entertainers for the 2015 Jest Fest! include:

  • World famous circus stars, The Flying Wallendas, performing comedy, juggling and daring feats on the high wire!
  • Broadway, film and TV star, silent clown Avner the Eccentric (played the Jewel in the film “The Jewel of the Nile”)!
  • Comedic French clown, Arsene from Paris, (trained with the legendary mime Marcel Marceau)!
  • Cool magic by international traveler, Magical Mystical Michael - be nice or disappear!
  • Veteran circus star Johnny Peers’ and his Muttville Comix dog show!
  • From Carnegie Hall to unknown cosmic locales, wild cello playing goblin and jester, Rushad Eggleston!
  • Amazing one-man-band, Marc Dobson!
  • Introducing 13-year-old ventriloquist Cole Tucker!
  • Locally-grown Gainesville Homeschool Chorus!
  • The very tall Mike Weakley stiltwalker!
  • Festival Jester Merald Clark!
  • Roving playful puppeteer George O’Brien!

Masquerade Merriment is returning for its third year! The Pride Community Center of North Central Florida, the Alachua County Branch of the NAACP and the North Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry are partnering to host the annual Jest for Laughs! masquerade party. Masquerade Merriment will be held Friday, March 27 from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Hippodrome Theatre. Tickets are $30, and this year’s theme is “Age of Aquarius.” This official Jest Fest! associate event celebrates Gainesville and raises money for these three social justice organizations. For more information, please call 352-327-3400 or e-mail