juggling

Melanie Gianopulos, Martha Smith and Lara Smith look on while Mike Smith juggles.

Progress / Norma Staaf

Do you want to try something new and fun? Why not juggling?

The Southfork Juggling and Magic Club will meet at the Kooskia Park on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. according to a post on their Southfork Juggling and Magic Facebook page.

Lowell residents Mike and Lara Smith, who met as performers with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey (RBBB) circus, are kicking off the club and encourage “everyone to attend with any skill level or no skill, but wanting to learn” according to their Facebook page.

Both Smiths graduated from RBBB Clown College in the 1980’s where Mike was later an instructor. They still perform as clowns, most recently a two-week trip to a Comedy Festival in Shanghai, China. Mike envisions “an informal hobby club, with no rules, officers or dues.”

People from young children to senior citizens are all welcome. Anyone with a magic trick up their sleeve can share it with others. If you’ve learned a magic trick from a YouTube video, the club provides a live audience. Mike is hoping that “closet jugglers will come out of the woodwork” and join in. People are welcome to bring a unicycle, stilts or other fun props to the gatherings, he said.

Lara’s inspiration for the club came from her brothers, also clowns, who organized a juggling and magic club nearly 40 years ago in their Ohio hometown. Talking about her circus days as a featured guest on The Blake and Bungles Show podcast last month brought back fun memories.

According to Mike, Lara told him she had a “weird idea to share with him.” Soon after, Lara launched the Southfork Juggling and Facebook page and Mike began sharpening his juggling skills in anticipation. A small group of family and friends enjoyed the first meeting on Sunday, Aug. 2.

Both Mike and Lara Smith participate in many Clearwater Valley school and community activities, supporting their four daughtersMartha, Ella, Ruth and Maddie in their academics, sports, theater and a myriad of other activities. They own Kooskia’s only motel, the Western Motor Inn. Mike, a graduate of Clearwater Valley High School (CVHS) coaches the CVHS track team.

Lara works at the Kamiah Teen Center, serves as the president of the Kooskia Chamber of Commerce, vice president of the PTO, board member of Valley Educational Support Team (VEST), substitute teacher and concession stand volunteer. Basically, Lara said “I volunteer for anything the school needs.” Mike brings beanbags, balls and other props to help aspiring jugglers get started.

They welcome people who are curious to stop by the park. Mike sees the potential for a group of jugglers to participate in community parades and other events in the future. He encourages people to come to the Kooskia Park on Sunday, “get silly and learn something new.”

The next gathering is Aug. 16, 1-3 p.m.

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