When you think of old-fashioned entertainment, it doesn’t get get much more nostalgic than a man and a monkey.
That was what Jerry Brown set out to bring to people 23 years ago when he teamed up with Django.
The tiny capuchin monkey has grown up as a performer. Brown has been her best friend since she was just 10 days old. She was 12 days old the first time she went in front of an audience. It’s been all about the crowd ever since.
“She loves to go to work,” said Brown.
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Jerry Brown the Monkey Man is listed as a strolling performer at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair, entertaining people Aug. 25-28, starting at 10 a.m. and going throughout the day. The man behind the monkey says that strolling is in the eye of the beholder.
“I find a place to work and people stroll around me,” he said.
Once people see Django, the crowd comes to them.
“I had the idea to re-create the old organ grinder concept,” he said. But Django, and people’s reaction to her, changed that.
“I found out real quick that what people want is contact with the monkey,” Brown said. He now spends most of his time educating people about the teensy primate and how to interact with her.
While their first inclination is usually to treat her like a dog, putting a hand down to her face to let her get acquainted, monkeys take that gesture as an invitation to come on up for a climb. With Brown’s guidance, people end up having a memorable and safe experience with an animal they might not see up close and personal anywhere else.
Balloon artists and magicians are a little more common, but no less a draw at an event like the Grange Fair. Dennie Huber’s show combining magic, comedy and a pop of balloon art is a staple.
“I always save time for it,” said Huber, who brings his show back year after year. This year he will appear on the Southside Stage on Aug. 25 for shows at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Huber has been entertaining kids for more than 40 years, and he said the Grange Fair is a favorite stop on his summer schedule.
“It’s like a family reunion, without the family politics,” he said with a laugh.