Jeremy the Juggler set to perform at the Merced County Spring Fair

04/25/2014 12:00 AM

04/18/2014 8:00 PM

Don’t be afraid you’re invading Jeremy the Juggler’s space. He prefers it that way.

“I don’t like being placed – bam – right on the stage,” Jeremy Shafer, 40, said. “I want to be right up close, that’s how I perform best.”

Shafer has been a performer for the last dozen or so Merced County Spring Fairs and he’ll be riding his unicycle and juggling throughout the five-day run of this year’s fair, as well.

Shafer collects a crowd as he pedals by and begins his shows along the midway, which adds to the performance’s intimacy and spontaneity, he said.

Shafer, who is from Berkeley, said he picked up juggling at age 10 and was involved with a Gilbert and Sullivan theater group as a child. “Theater just came naturally to me,” he said. “Being I’m outgoing, it worked well with the juggling and transformed into a career.”

Shafer is also the author of two books on origami, “Origami to Astonish and Amuse” and “Origami Ooh La La.” He’s made the traditional Japanese art of paper folding into a performance, which he’s done by making pieces on a larger-than-usual scale.

The summer, which is fair season for many places, is filled with fair visits for Shafer. “I love it,” Shafer said about the Spring Fair. “I like the weather, I like the people.”

Fluent in Spanish and a Mariachi singer, Shafer said Sunday is a good time to use those skills. Sunday at the fair is typically populated by Spanish-language bands and Latin dancers that attract Spanish speakers.

Always clad in colorful garb and silly hats sometimes made by his mother-in-law, Shafer is also a hand whistler and beatboxer. “The tie-dye, I get those in bulk,” Shafer said with a laugh.

“My forté is kids’ entertainment,” he said. “I enjoy the fair. I like rolling around and gathering a crowd.”

Shafer travels to fairs throughout the state and has even added dates in Nevada and Idaho.

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