Color In The Hills Festival Provides Action-Packed Weekend

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It was a sword-swallowing, sheep-wrangling, stilts-wearing good time throughout the weekend at Glouster Community Park.

Yes, the third annual Appalachian Color in the Hills Festival was action-packed. Even still, the emerging fall colors surrounding the festival were such that no one would have blamed a visitor for taking a quiet moment to take it all in.

Rain soaked the festival grounds on Friday night, but on Saturday a large crowd gathered in Glouster to enjoy the sunny, autumn atmosphere.

There were 60 vendors hawking items such as kettle corn alongside alpaca cages, a sign the festival's chairman said showed the festival is growing as a local tradition.

"It's a great day," Chairman JoAnn Sikorski said on Saturday. "I think (the festival) is good for the community."

Magicians with the traveling Top Hat Side Show were on hand to mystify and entertain the crowd with a humorous series of acts. Christopher Bogucki and Andrew D'Ascenzo took turns trying to one-up each other by seemingly eating larger and larger quantities of fire, while Joshua Wilde ate fire casually from a spoon and bowl.

The first of two finales included Bogucki laying on a traditional bed of nails.

"We're all about safety," the Michigan native said sarcastically, before putting on a pair of goggles.

Bogucki removed his magician's vest prior to laying down to prove he did not have padding underneath, eliciting a few shrieks from some audience members.

"Oh sure, they can watch him put a nail in his head, but this — this is too much for them," D'Ascenzo quipped. "Those are real holes in his back. We'll be playing tic-tac-toe later."

D'Ascenzo closed out the performance by swallowing a 17-inch sword, making sure to allow those in the crowd to authenticate its realness prior to the stunt. After the show, two of the performers ranged the festival in lengthy stilts, juggling high above guests' heads.

Nearby, Wayne Boyd with the Sheep Valley Farms Canine Advancement Center showed off his farm dog's ability and obedience. River, a border collie, successfully rounded up sheep, goats and other animals and could even maneuver them through a slalom series of cones.

Boyd said River knew 31 different handshakes as part of understanding 200 unique commands.

"You watch this show," Boyd said early on, "and see if you don't think dogs are a good investment."

Animals were a big part of the weekend, especially when representatives with the Columbus Zoo came to show various animals. Among them were a lynx cat named Titan, a European barn owl (also known as the monkey-faced owl) and an African Leopard Turtle named Lucky. The biggest crowd reaction came when they saw Chovie, an African Black-Footed Penguin.

Guests also enjoyed three live bands and a large-scale traveling puppet show, all part of the festival's commitment to providing free, affordable entertainment in Glouster.

The festival is held annually the second week in October. For more information on this year's festival and upcoming ones, visit