Fair 2021: Puppets, dinosaurs, magic, and hynoptism

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(Posted July 12, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Sure, the grandstands are the place to be for the rodeo, drag races, motocross, and truck and tractor pulls, and the demolition derby. But don’t forget to check out the family friendly entertainment elsewhere on the grounds where you’ll run into ventriloquism, magic, a hypnotist, and even dinosaurs.

  • Mr. Puppet

    Mr. Puppet

Tuesday and Wednesday–1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m.

Mr. Puppet, also known as Bob Abdou, is a ventriloquist, puppeteer, and humorist. For the past 25 years, he has been sharing his talents with crowds at schools, libraries, festivals, county fairs, state fairs, and in Amish country.

“One of my greatest experiences as a performer is when I perform at a party and all the adults are in another room. The children laugh so much that the adults just have to see what all the commotion is about. When the adults come see, they laugh out loud, too,” he said.

Abdou got his start in Atlanta, then spent time performing in Philadelphia, Pa., and Austin, Texas, before moving to Columbus, his home base for 10 years. Earlier this year, he pulled up stakes and moved to Hilton Head, S.C., but still has a full slate of shows in Ohio this summer.

  • Dino-ROAR!

    Dino-ROAR!

Tuesday and Wednesday–4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m.

There’s nothing quite like a Dino-ROAR! show. It’s exciting, funny, educational, and sometimes even a little scary.

The crew uses hand puppets, body suits, and animatronics to teach audiences about all kinds of dinosaurs. Children and adults are invited to pet, interact with, and have their pictures taken with the dinosaurs, which range in size from three feet long to a 15-foot long, ridable Tyrannosaurus Rex. Additionally, Dino-ROAR offers an educational fossil display.

Dino-ROAR is romping and stomping through the festival and fair circuit. This year, they are performing shows not only in Ohio, but also Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Two years ago, they expanded their operations to include birthday parties, regional special events, and schools shows, along with online content.

  • John Louis

    John Louis: On the Edge of Illusion

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday–12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m.

From Owensville, Ohio, near Cincinnati, John Louis has more than 5,000 live performances under his belt. The magician-illusionist-comic-juggler takes his show on the road all around the country.

“I do a little bit of everything. I was the children’s entertainer at the Cincinnati Zoo. I’ve gone to hundreds of schools and thousands of churches, day cares, nursing homes, private events, festivals, and fairs,” he said.

Last summer was a lean year, what with the cancellation of most events due to the pandemic, but Louis said everything has bounced back and he is busier than ever.

As for what audiences can expect at his show, he said, “Thrilling stunts, maybe even sawing someone in half. And since it’s the fair, we will have live animals in the show. There also will be plenty of laughs and comedy.”

  • Mike Bishop

    Comedy Hypnotist Mike Bishop

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday–5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m.

He has pleased crowds at the Madison County Fair in the past, and he is sure to do so again this year.

Mike Bishop is back with his comedy hypnosis show wherein audience members are the stars. Through the power of hypnotic suggestion, Bishop makes participants forget their names, become Elvis impersonators, and freak out as he vanishes before their eyes.

It all starts with soft, low music. Bishop then begins suggesting changes in the demeanor of his subjects. They begin to relax, their heads droop, and their eyes close. They slump in their chairs and lean into each other. Then, pandemonium breaks loose. One participant might quack like a duck when she hears a certain word. Another will have trouble finding his belly button. Some might think they smell foul odors and blame it on the person next to them.

The atmosphere and the antics get the audience laughing as they witness “what happens when the imaginary becomes real.”

The 2021 Madison County Fair runs through July 17. For a full schedule of events, visit Madison County Fair.

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