Sideshow VI

Tracy McElfresh, a Sideshow VI artist. Tracy McElfresh, a Sideshow VI artist.

A two-day celebration of creativity

By Katie Anible-Modras

Tracy McElfresh, a Sideshow VI artist.

At a little juncture where the train bridge cuts through the city next to Fifth and Fourth Streets, off Wayne Avenue, where the trains noisily cross, you may discover our own little gem in the valley – the whimsical world that is the Garden Station. Look for the beautiful landscaping, brightly painted murals and raised vegetable beds. Three years ago, the Garden Station was born of the Circus Creative Collective, a local non-profit arts group. Just beyond the Garden Station to the right, you will find the Yellow Cab Company Building, the new home of the Circus and the location of the organization’s sixth annual blowout event, the Sideshow.
This is the first year the location of the event is the current home base of the Circus Collective. In the past, the Sideshow’s locations have been equally interesting spots around the city, such as the Cannery, the old Unicorn Bar, the now retired C-space and the Armory attic. This year’s Sideshow will serve as a preview for the potential uses of the building through the collective’s work in the community.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience a Dayton Sideshow event, it is a real treat. Visual and installation artists come together each year, reuniting and filling a space, creating an otherworldly environment truly unique each time. For two wild nights, the location fills with its creators and the crowds come through while bands, DJs and performers of all types fill the air with sound and action.
In addition to the artwork and events at the Cab Building, this year the Garden Station will have artwork on display as well and will be the location of musical performances throughout the Sideshow, making this an event covering two city blocks. Some 50 artists have come together this year and the kitschy ambience of the Cab Building is serving as a delightfully ironic background for such creative outpourings. Imagine individual vignettes of every style and persuasion crafted by many hands and clustered together in several rooms of different sizes, bizarrely intriguing and beautifully orchestrated. Couple this with the music of such local favorites as Oxymoronatron and the Professors, along with 24 other acts performing experimental music, folk rock, performance art, hip-hop and everything in between.
The organizers’ mantra is the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By working together to encourage every member in our community to discover their own artistic potential, we experience a stronger creative force. David Kenworthy and Jeff Opt, group founders of the Circus Collective and organizers of this year’s Sideshow, have been working long and hard in preparation. Rather than requiring artist’s fees, organizers have worked with other volunteers in holding Sideshow fundraisers. In other words, pre-parties. These parties and public readings held a dual purpose: raising money for the Sideshow while creating a sense of unity between the group and the public. On Friday, May 6, the group invited the public to preview the show and, of course, to dance for their final pre-party and fundraiser, the Comesee.
Participants in the Sideshow all share an experience of complete openness and support.  “Well, there is the Sideshow, the two-night event itself, but then there’s everything that leads up to it – everyone working together,” said Jeff Opt on how the Sideshow’s collective process is what makes the celebration so incredible. There is an encouragement to experiment; to be very free is creating each individual part. One can feel an air of excited anticipation, to which the event itself becomes the blossom of the work set forth- a true celebration of local creativity.
The vital aspect of each year’s Sideshow is the crowd intermingling, experiencing the event and enjoying their surroundings. A bar and eclectic buffet of snacks is always available, all proceeds supporting the Circus Collective. When preparing for your Urban Nights outing downtown this May, make the Sideshow one of your stops, you may not want to leave.

For an updated list of artists, bands and times go to Sideshow VI is located at the Yellow Cab Building at 700 E. Fourth St. and at the Garden Station at 509 E. Fourth St. on Friday, May13 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and on Saturday, May 14 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Anible-Modras at

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