Street Fest

WHEN — April 14-May 1

WHERE — Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.

COST — Season passes start at $135; single tickets start at $79

INFO — silverdollarcity.com

It might sound like the Mad Hatter ought to be ensconced there serving tea, but Silver Dollar City’s latest immersive Street Fest experience is instead ruled over by the singing and storytelling Lady of the Garden. Populated by an aerialist who portrays a peacock in a cage — plus street performers and elaborate topiaries and bronze statues that come to life — the Living Garden is new this year outside Red/Gold Heritage Hall.

Logan Torbet, the production manager for Street Fest and the Living Garden, says the idea was inspired by the courtyard’s beautiful flower beds and some smaller versions done in the past.

“It is very whimsical, family friendly, full of light and songs about spring,” he says. “It really makes this often unused area of the park into something magical.”

Lyra Sprenger, SDC entertainment and events supervisor, calls the new addition “breathtaking.” But she says the wonder of Street Fest starts at the theme park’s town square, where “you are immediately immersed in the festival atmosphere.”

“High wire acts, an energetic brass band and a steel drum set the tone for the day,” she reveals. “One of my favorite additions are the Towering Flowers. We have larger-than-life performers on stilts adorned in the most elaborate costumes. You will see a towering poppy, daffodil and butterfly.

“After being cooped up all winter, guests are excited for spring and ready to get outdoors,” Sprenger believes. “This festival is a celebration of that. Strolling around the park, you will be surprised and delighted as you will come across multiple unique and energetic performances. It’s a giant party in the streets!

“When booking entertainment for Street Fest, we are always looking for that WOW factor,” she adds. “We search for high-energy performers and unexpected, larger-than-life costumes.”

Among the entertainers this year are one-man band Eric Haines, low-wire acts like Giovanni and Brando Anastasini, “America’s Got Talent” knife-throwing finalists The Passing Zone, drumming duo Buckets N Boards, musicians, bands, acrobatic jugglers and more.

“This is our biggest entertainment year ever,” says Casey Robertson, director of entertainment and events. “Street Fest is one of those festivals that we really have fun with. It’s vibrant, unique, and there’s truly something for everybody. The talent and skills each of these artists bring is always impressive.”

The other facet of the Street Fest experience is food, Robertson and Sprenger agree.

“The tasting passport is a fantastic way to tour the culinary offerings of Street Fest,” Sprenger enthuses. “Guests can choose samplers from more than 20 eateries across the park. Foods like pork belly skewers, jalapeno Tatchos (loaded tots) and unicorn funnel cakes truly show the creativity behind this festival. A few of my favorite items include street mac and cheese, ravioli nachos and our artisan-dipped cones.”

For both Torbet and Sprenger, the lure of the 1880s theme park was enough to keep bringing them back, just as it has generations of families over the years. Torbet, from northwestern Indiana, was a singer and dancer living in New York City when he was cast in one of the Silver Dollar City Christmas productions and “fell in love with the area and the people.” Sprenger started her Silver Dollar City career as a saloon girl and eventually entered management.

“Silver Dollar City is rich with culture, and the park hosts truly are a family,” she says.

  photo  Among Street Fest performers will be the comedy-juggling duo Passing Zone, “America’s Got Talent” knife-throwing finalists during the TV series’ debut season. (Courtesy Photo/©Jay Blakesberg)
  photo  Stilt walkers will populate Street Fest as a towering poppy, daffodil and butterfly during Silver Dollar City’s Street Fest, which begins April 14. (Courtesy Photo)
  photo  A stilt walker performs during Silver Dollar City’s Street Fest. (Courtesy Photo)
  photo  Stilt walkers are transformed into living breathing vines as Living Floral Trees at Silver Dollar City’s Street Fest.
  photo  Disa Stilts, the graceful stilt walker performs during Silver Dollar City’s Street Fest.
  photo  Disa Stilts, the graceful stilt walker performs during Silver Dollar City’s Street Fest.
  photo  Passing Zone photographed in LA, CA December 11, 2014©Jay Blakesberg