World-class acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, hoop-divers and clowns found a welcoming crowd under the big top last week as the Flynn Creek Circus returned to the Napa County Fairgrounds with new acts, funny skits, and breathtaking feats of gymnastic artistry.

This was the second year that the Mendocino-based Flynn Creek Circus set up their distinctive orange circus tent, and as children and adults filed in under the commodious big top there was an atmosphere of unbridled excitement.

“Monsieur Lou Lou” (Ross Travis) was Master of Ceremony who — sporting a thick French accent and colorful clown makeup — peppered the audience with witticisms as he was romantically chased throughout the show by “Madam Erica” (Erica Rubinstein). The culmination of the romance was a skit in which an audience member was brought onstage to represent the Empire State Building while Monsieur Lou Lou transformed himself into King Kong and climbed atop the volunteer as Madam Erica donned a Godzilla mask and attempted to woo the monkey from his perch. The tableaux had every man, woman and child in the audience shrieking with laughter.

Juggler Dany Reyes also moved the audience to laughter and amazement as he began his act with “Singing in the Rain,” was struck by artfully delivered lightning that lit his hair on fire, and then propelled him into a juggling frenzy with a progression of seven red balls, bowling pins and fluorescent hoops.

Selyna Bogino fascinated the crowd with her foot juggling and Hula-Hoop twirling, managing as many as six hoops simultaneously on foot, hip, arms and legs as she performed a handstand to the cheers of little girls and boys throughout the big top.

These were just a few of the performances, but by far the most breathtaking was “The Daring Jones Duo,” comprised of Blaze Birge and David Jones who climbed to a swing at the top of the big top and – without a net – amazed the crowd with their joint gymnastics.

The Flynn Creek Circus was founded in 2002 by Blaze Birge and Nick Schwartz when they gathered talent from multiple genres including musicians, actors and visual artists in Comptche, California. Since then, the Flynn Creek has performed in the UK, India, Mongolia, China and most recently in 2016 in Holland and Germany. Their remaining 2016 summer tour will take them to Point Arena Aug. 4-7, Fortuna Aug. 11-14, Windsor Aug. 18-21, and San Juan Bautista Aug 25-28.

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Tom Stockwell is currently a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and has been a working journalist for a variety of technical publications as well as a consultant for numerous wineries in the Napa Valley.