"Guess we shouldn't have done such good art," Darla Torrez says.
The second annual Summer Carnival is raising the big tent Saturday afternoon at Caras Park. Starting at noon, Missoula's favorite festival space will be home to entertainers, food and drink of all sorts. "We're basically taking over the park," says Darla, organizer and all-around ring-leader.
This year takes on a dustbowl theme, like a sketchy bootleg carnival pulls into town (don't worry, there won't be actual pick-pockets) and disappears as quickly as it came. They've got it all: ring-toss, balloon darts, storytellers, an obstacle course, a duck pond and prizes all housed in colorful hand-built booths. Vendors include local beers, lemonade, cotton candy, Big Dipper, and The Clove — a new bike-powered pizza stand.
It's not just last year's carnival redux. This year there are three main events to be seen from the bleachers, and the food is outsourced, not laboriously home-cooked.
First up are the Rainbow Trolls, with showings at noon at 2. It's a kid-oriented interactive show featuring members of the Missoula Children's Theater.
At 4 there's the Shaneca Show, where Broadway veteran, Missoula native and dance extraordinaire Shaneca Adams takes parts of his one-man show from the Orpheus Theater in NYC and mixes it with a comedy routine and a cast of a dozen.
Finally there's The Merry Pranksters Variety Show, which comes at a time Darla says, "We're pretty much encouraging people to get their kids and grandmas out of there." Starting at 8, the vaudeville-style show will feature a play, comedy, burlesque, marionettes, and members of the Symbiotic Circus and the Cigarette Girls. At the same time the game booths will get turned into peep shows! So seriously, hide your grandma.
Prove you earn your Keep Missoula Weird bumper sticker and head down to the park Saturday.