Juggling aficionados will gather in Robertson Gym this weekend to commemorate the life of a former UCSB student and raise money for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.
The Isla Vista Juggling Festival and Public Show is held annually in memory of Patty Laney, a former juggler and UCSB student who was raped and murdered 34 years ago. Laney was a volunteer and co-founder of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center who worked in the 1970s to warn locals about a serial rapist and murderer who had already killed two young women in the area.
According to festival founder Jeff Walsh, friends started the festival to honor Laney a few months after her death.
“Rather than just sit in their grief, they decided to do something positive,” Walsh said. “They started a juggling festival.”
Jugglers, unicyclists, magicians and other performers from all over the state will make their way to UCSB this weekend for the 34th annual festival. Juggling events will run from Friday to Sunday, with the primary vaudeville-themed performance planned for Saturday night in Robertson Gym.
Event Coordinator Matt Thornley said the show appeals to audiences of all ages.
“Anyone who’s interested in watching or learning to juggle should come,” Thornley said. “It’s pretty entertaining just to watch. It should be a great show.”
All proceeds from the performance will be donated to the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.
According to Walsh, attendees also have the opportunity to learn how to juggle from the performers at the festival.
“Anyone there will offer you free lessons,” he said.
The festival is free except for the Saturday night show, which costs $10 for adults and $5 for UCSB students, children and seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at Robertson Gym.