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Night Owls start the day at Blue Plum

Luna Brewer • Updated Jun 3, 2017 at 12:06 AM

It wasn’t until Night Owl Circus and Empyrean aerial arts took the stage — or swing — that the 18th Annual Blue Plum Festival really came alive.

The circus act has been monopolized by Azure Aerial Arts Studio for the festival’s past two years, but Johnson City’s Night Owl and Asheville’s Empyrean Arts gladly stepped up to perform their first Blue Plum act this year.

Kayla Eggleston, who has only been with Night Owl for a year and a half, had high hopes for the evening’s event.

“I think it’ll be really fun,” Eggleston said.

Craig Lewis, Night Owl Studio’s owner, expressed his excitement for their involvement with the festival this year.

“All of our performers have been training for one to 10 years, so I hope we can come back for the next festival,” Lewis said.

Despite the popular Blue Plum Fast 5K beginning at the same time as the circus act, they maintained a good-sized crowd. And as the sun began to sink and Eggleston and the other five performers took the stage one by one, more and more people were captivated by the silk climbing dancers.

The show really gained speed as Empyrean performer Cody Hayman climbed the silk to place his rope. Swinging, sliding and spinning, he masterfully twisted in the rope to the beat of music.

Continuing with the show’s variety of talents, Laura Marie showcased her trapeze skills as she performed flips and drops with elegance.

Holly Barker, Eggleston’s best friend, brought her family along to enjoy the show.

“They always do such an amazing job and they look so great doing it,” Barker said. “I’m so impressed and I know they’ll always bring their best to their shows.”

True to Barker’s praise, the Night Owl aerialists continued to earn gasps and applause as more people filed into Founders Park.

As the festival’s headliner, Music City Roots, began on the Commercial Bank Lawn Stage, the crowd grew smaller, but the performers continued past their scheduled time due to so much interest.

According to Lewis, the performance and crowd were just what the aerial arts studio needed.

“Our focus today is showing people that anyone can do this, regardless of strength level,” Lewis said. “My performers tonight were amazing, and I’m so proud.”

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