Jest Fest! Features The Flying Wallendas, Avner the Eccentric and Other World Famous Entertainers


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, April 15 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Historic Thomas Center and Gardens. Now in its sixth season, Jest Fest! features a stellar lineup of international stars, performing some of the world’s greatest comedy/variety and circus acts on five stages. There are even more roving entertainers, food and merchandise vendors and kids’ activities located throughout the gardens.

Headliners returning this year to Jest Fest! include The World Famous Flying Wallendas, performing daring feats on the high wire and other circus arts; silent clown Avner the Eccentric, a star of Broadway and feature films who played the Jewel in the film “The Jewel of the Nile” and mime, juggler and magician, Arsene Dupin from Paris, who trained with the legendary mime Marcel Marceau. Also returning this year, after a year’s hiatus, is Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus star Johnny Peers with his Muttville Comix dog show. Using rescue dogs, his pack of canine comedians have appeared on David Letterman, “Primetime Live” and “Circus of the Stars” and performed live at Disneyland, Busch Gardens, Big Apple Circus, Royal Hanneford Circus and even The White House!

New acts for 2018 include Squawk! The Amazing Bird Show, which stars parrots performing unusual talents such as painting, mind reading, performing card tricks, solving math problems and much more. Squawk! has been featured live in Las Vegas shows, as well as appearing on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” “America’s Got Talent” and Animal Planet’s “Pet Star.” Also new this year is Showtune Shenanigans, which features four shows with a variety of popular show tunes. Showtune Shenanigans is performed by prizewinning musician John Lowe, the celebrated director of music and organist at Gainesville’s Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and talented actor/singer/musician Will Winter, who has performed locally in many theatre and musical productions.

Jest Fest! is proud to showcase some of our area's finest arts, social services, animal rescue, service animals and therapy animals organizations by providing them free booth space. Festival goers are encouraged to visit with these important groups and find out more about their excellent programs and services!

This activity has been funded in part by a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council and Culture Builds Florida. The Historic Thomas Center is located at 302 NE Sixth Ave. in Gainesville. For general information, contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at or 352-393-8532. For more information about this event, please contact David Ballard at or 352-393-8746.