Hot on the heels of conquering one of acrobatics’ most daring acts ever, the Flying Wallendas headline this year’s Topsfield Fair.
When most families sit down to dinner, they discuss the ins and outs of their days, maybe upcoming vacations, and swap opinions about recent movies or shows. The Flying Wallendas, on the other hand, are the show-so their dinnertime chatter is decidedly different. “We talk about things that went right or wrong up on the wire,” laughs Tino Wallenda, patriarch of the team, which just so happens to be one of the best-known circus families on earth. (Or, more specifically, above it.)
Performing at the Topsfield Fair this October, the Wallendas are enjoying an even brighter spotlight than usual at the moment. After all, in June of this summer Tino’s nephew, Nik Wallenda, became the first person to cross over Niagara Falls on a tightrope. The troupe ‘s history stretches back to the 1800s, when theyÂ became known for their daredevil stuntsÂ and group performances that included tightrope walking, acrobats, jugglers, animal trainers, and of course, clowns.
Since then, the family has blossomed into a multi-branched troupe-seven generations of performers who are as talented as they are fearless. “I started out when I was a little boy, setting the riggings for my grandfather’s wire walks,” explains Tino, who is himself sixth generation. “Now I walk wires myself, and my own kids have come onboard.” (His acts have included walking over everything from lions and rivers to waterfalls and between buildings. His highest walk ever was 3,300 feet in length and 179 feet high, above Denver.) He and his family also recreated and made famous the Seven Person Pyramid-one of the trickiest and most intricate acrobatic acts out there, but also one of the most impressive to behold. “It’s always exciting, of course,” he says. “Every new thing we try is a challenge.”
This year’s act at the Topsfield Fair will be no different. “We have some new surprises we can’t wait to do,” he says, adding that the Fair’s arena is a particularly fantastic space for performing. Oh, and the audience is always the very best kind of boost for their act. “Everyone gets incredibly excited to have us there,” he says, “and that just makes us that much more enthusiastic.” The Flying Wallendas will perform as the premiere act at The Topsfield Fair this year on October 6, 7, and 8; topsfieldfair.orgÂ -A.H.