THIS WEEKEND: Skinny German Juggle Boy returns Christkindlemarkt
The Warren Sentinel
FRONT ROYAL – Michael Hilbig was born in Berlin and, as a child, went to Christmas markets in several German towns, including the famed Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt.
For centuries, local merchants have sold toys, food and wine every December at the markets, which were the inspiration for the Christkindlmarkt Front Royal festival started by Steve and Maggie Sill in 2004.
This year Hilbig will return to Christkindlmarkt Front Royal as Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy, a comedian and clown known for making audiences laugh by juggling objects from basketballs to toilet plungers, riding a unicycle and poking fun at himself.
Christkindlmarkt Front Royal will be held Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, at the gazebo area at Main and Chester streets in downtown Front Royal. The market unofficially opens at 4 p.m. Friday and the festival wraps up at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Hilbig, who now lives in Ithaca, N.Y., said the Front Royal festival is one of two U.S. Christkindlmarkts he attends. The other is in Mifflinburg, Pa.
The entertainer was performing on a cruise ship earlier this week and wrote in an email that while his favorite part of his act is the variety in his routine, audiences seem to enjoy his unique brand of humor.
“I love the physical aspect of my show ... my physicality and outrageous humor seems to be a big draw,” he wrote.
Like everyone else, Hilbig said, even clowns have “down days,” but for him, those days are all the more reason to perform.
“It lifts me up and I hope that it does so for the audience as well,” he wrote, adding that on more than one occasion he has “made the day” of an unsuspecting bypasser. He also enjoys changing the minds of those with unfavorable opinions of street performers.
Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy performs at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday during the Christkindlmarkt Front Royal festival.
Hilby is just one of the featured activities of this year's festival. A Moustache & Beard Competition is the newest event.
Christkindlmarkt founder Steve Sill said he thought of adding the Moustache & Beard Competition after attending a West Virginia festival with a similar event.
“It's a seasonal thing,” Sill said of beard growing. “My father used to grow a beard every winter. It was sort of a joke in our family.”
The Moustache & Beard judging will take place at noon Saturday at the center stage. Prizes will be given in three categories. There is a $10 fee to participate.
About 36 vendors have signed up to sell their products at the festival including several food vendors, Silpada jewelry, Tastefully Simple, Bathfitters, and Warren County Tree Stewards.
More information and a schedule of events is available at www.ckmfrontroyal.com.