“That Zucchini guy,’ as kids call him, is not only popular with preschoolers and kindergarteners; he is also popular with moms and dads.
Local children’s entertainer Eric Knaus, known formally as “The Great Zucchini,” performs “900 shows a year and has been flown around the world to different conventions to be keynote speaker to other entertainers.” He will be performing his hands-on, funny magic tricks at Vienna’s 2019 Oktoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 1-2 p.m. at 131 Church St. NE. in Vienna.
Fairfax County Times reached out to him with some questions:
How would you describe yourself as a child? Did you ever think you would become a children’s entertainer?
THE GREAT ZUCCHINI: As a child I was on many sports teams, played football, basketball and hung out with friends that are still in my life today. As an only child, it teaches you to be social and to nurture friendships, which are dear to me today.
How did you become interested in performing for children?
THE GREAT ZUCCHINI: I coached little league in my 20s, and worked as a teacher for many years, after praying to God to give my life direction. I had no idea what I was going to do, then my prayer was answered and I’ve never looked back.
I was working at a kids’ party place as one of their hosts and realized that lots of parents were requesting me to host their kids’ parties, because of my ability to make kids laugh.
Then, I realized I could do it on my own and 30 years later, I still enjoy performing, as when I first started.
What does it take to succeed as a performer for children?
THE GREAT ZUCCHINI: I had a mom book me for her kid’s 4th birthday party and I did the mom’s party when she was 4. I care about each and every performance, and my success is based on reliability, and the trust that parents have in me. For instance, my show is geared for 2-7-year-olds. Most people know that, but if they don’t and I get a call from a mom that has a child turning 8, I’ll recommend her to a friend that gears shows for older kids.
Do you remember any funny stories from your performances?
THE GREAT ZUCCHINI: I’ve had fathers, who I’ve performed at their house many times, call me during dinner, put me on speaker and tell their kids to eat their vegetables.
I’ve had kids tell me they have been practicing magic and I’ll let them do a couple of tricks for my audience before I start the show. It’s always a blast to see them perform.
What was the inspiration behind the name “The Great Zucchini”?
THE GREAT ZUCCHINI: My dad was just rattling off names and he said, “The Great Zucchini,” and it rhymes with Houdini, so I liked it right away.
Before ending our conversation with The Great Zuccini, he added, “If you want to know who my inspiration is, that would be my mom, no doubt. She is the most positive person I know, and at age 74, is still learning new things and living every day to the fullest.” Now we understand why moms appreciate his shows the most! Don’t you?
In addition to The Great Zucchini, the Kids Stage at the festival will feature performances by many local dance schools. The Main Stage will feature fun party music from Superfly Disco, Ocho de Bastos and Sexton’s German Band. The Acoustic Stage will feature the Coffee House All Star Open Mic.
According to the festival’s press release, “The festival has historically drawn 20,000-30,000 attendees and increases each year!” The 2019 Oktoberfest is happening on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
No festival-specific parking is designated; however, public parking is available throughout the Vienna commercial area. For other parking options, visit: https://www.viennava.gov/index.aspx?NID=871.
Uber/Lyft drop-off and shuttle service will be available throughout the day. Please visit the festival website for specific schedules and updates: www.viennaoktoberfest.org.
Proceeds from Oktoberfest benefit the Vienna Business Association (VBA), which supports charitable organizations in the Greater Vienna area.
The 2019 Oktoberfest Platinum Sponsor is Vienna Hometown Builders, a group of Vienna-based custom homebuilders comprised of: Cloud IX Homes, Dunhill Builders, Fisher Custom Homes, JDA Custom Homes, Jefferson Homes, Sekas Homes, Somerville Homes and Stahl Homes.