Saturday 25th January 2014 saw York's one-day juggling convention, Chocfest, turn 19 years old.
Chocfest may have been around for ages but as a Southerner I'd never made the trek up North for it until this year. What I found was a great little event put on by a group of lovely, fun, close knit and well-organised people.
Chocfest gets its unusual name from the Chocfest Cocolate Cake Challenge. Competitiors bake a chocolate cake and bring it along to the convention. This not only enters them in the CCCC but gives them discounted entry to the convention.
The cakes are on display during the day for everyone to salivate over (but hopefully not on to) before being tasted and judged by the Chofest panel. The winners, which included prizes for the most chocolaty and the best looking cake, were announced during the evening show's interval.
A recipe for one of the winning cakes can be found here.
The large juggling hall filled up pretty early on with jugglers, spinners and manipulators but despite the excellent attendance the hall never felt over-crowded.
There was a good workshop line up as well featuring sessions from some of the show performers as well as Ron from Lazy Juggler running board game workshops.
The evening show was also excellent with a goog selection of local, national and international talent. Among others, the show featured Ethan's nail-biting rolla bolla act which involved Ethan squeezing through two small rings while on a rolla bolla on a 3ft tall table. Emma Who displayed some modern hula hooping and Joel's ball juggling routine took us on a journey from beginner to expert juggler.
My favourite act in the show was Dr Bill (Will Borrell) the fun, psychedelic space builder. Dr Bill's act featured club juggling, swinging and manipulation which included some sublime double club fishtails. The act finished with some five-ball tricks before Dr Bill collapsed and was hauled off stage by one of the young comperes (with some help from the much stronger stage hand and show organiser, Sadie).
Chazz performed his familiar contact staff routine. When will this lazy man make something new! Much less familiar and far more refreshing was Tom Derrick's headline act. A smooth and slick umbrella routine performed to "Singing in the Rain" (which the entire convention was singing or whistling for hours after the show).
During the show's invertal we not only had a chance to sample the CCCC cakes and win amazing (and not-so-amazing) prizes in the raffle but were given a piece of good news as well. The BJC in 2013 made a loss, unfortunately, so over the last several months there have been different fund-raising efforts and events to try to balance the BJC books. Chocfest was one such event as it donated all profits to the BJC. Thanks to a great attendance, the raffle and selling off excess BJC 2013 merchanise, Chocfest pushed the BJC funds back into the black!