Why You Should Come To The IJA Festival In Fort Wayne

I, David Cain, wear many different hats in the juggling world. I’m a full-time performing juggler. I’m a juggling historian and writer. I’m the curator of the Museum of Juggling History. And now, I’ve taken on the position as the Director of the 2019 IJA Festival, which takes place June 24-30, 2019 in Fort Wayne, Indiana (USA). Like any festival director, I want my event to be well attended and fun.

I’ve been attending IJA Festivals / Conventions since 1985. I’ve attended great fests and forgettable fests. When I started attending fests, there wasn’t a lot of competition for the annual get together. The internet wasn’t around and other juggling fests were small and uncommon. If you wanted to see great juggling and see what the latest and greatest things around were, you needed to go to IJA. In 1991, we had around 1600 jugglers show up, as Trixie, Anthony Gatto, and Sergei Ignatov were all there. But then the internet, large regional fests, the EJC, and WJF all came into being. There were now other options to see great juggling. The IJA Conventions became Festivals and the numbers decreased, but they still remain a unique and wonderful week of juggling. There’s nothing that really compares to the IJA Fest. The festival in Fort Wayne should be an incredible time. Here are just some of the reasons why you should make plans to attend.

The location is the possibly the most convenient and amazing that we’ve ever had. 

We have two hotels, a convention center, and a theater, all located adjacent to each other in a square. You can literally walk from any of them to any other of them while holding your breath. The convention center is probably the most beautiful one we’ve ever had. We have the “gym”, four workshop rooms, and a huge ballroom to use as a theater for events like X-Juggling, Individual Props Competition, Numbers Championships, Flow Show, and some other events.

The Grand Wayne Convention Center

The “Gym”

The Embassy Theatre across the street is as nice as any theater we’ve had for the Welcome Show, Cascade of Stars Show, and Stage Championships.

The Embassy Theatre

The two festival hotels are first class and have given us great rates for the week. There are 60 restaurants within walking distance and the mid-west prices are hard to beat. Both hotels have shuttles to and from the airport. This is a wonderful location for what we need.

If you pre-register for the festival, which I highly recommend, then you’ll get the free brunch on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, compliments of one of our amazing donors, iiwii.

If you have non-juggler family that are coming with you, there’s plenty for them to do in Fort Wayne. The Botanical Conservatory, Firefighters Museum,  Fort Wayne Public Library, and TinCaps Baseball Stadium are all adjacent to our location. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is top notch. Both hotels have swimming pools. Glenbrook Square Mall is one of the largest malls in Indiana. The Library also houses the nation’s second largest genealogical research center, so they can learn about your family’s history. There’s plenty to do in Fort Wayne even if you don’t juggle.

Three Special Events

There are three new, special events happening at the 2019 IJA Festival. Monday night will be Challenge Night. During this special time in the gym, you can try to juggle some of the world’s largest juggling clubs, the world’s largest juggling balls, the world’s most slippery clubs, the Chaos Clubs (the world’s most difficult clubs), the Chaos Rings (the world’s most difficult rings), the world’s first Floaty Clubs, and appleseed juggling, in honor of Fort Wayne being the hometown of Johnny Appleseed. You can also be a part of several group challenges, as we try to set a few large group world records. This should be a super fun way to kick off our week.


The Tuesday late night event will be the first ever Juggling Film Festival. It will feature juggling-themed films between 5 and 15 minutes in length in the categories of comedy, action, drama, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, musical, parody, or mystery. These are not juggling trick videos. Instead, these films will have a plot that somehow involves juggling in an important way. The films don’t even have to include juggling but could take place in the juggling community or be about juggling. After the films are shown, the audience will vote for their favorite one and a winner will be crowned. This bonus event will cost an extra $10, but it will be worth it. To learn more about the Film Festival and submission details, click here.

Friday evening will be Game Show Night. Watch teams of some of your favorite jugglers square off on jugglers’ versions of popular television game shows. This event is an extra $5, but hey, what’s $5 nowadays!?

Amazing Shows

The IJA Festival features some of the best and most unique juggling shows on the planet. Check out what you can see during the week.

The Welcome Show – Tuesday, June 25th, 7:30 pm at the Embassy Theatre. Come be amazed and entertained by a cast of international juggling stars, including a trio of British jugglers making their IJA debut.

Youth Showcase – Wednesday, June 26th, 7:30 pm at the Embassy Theatre. Some of the best up and coming jugglers under the age of 18 show off their skills. Come and show your support.

Renegade – Wednesday, June 26th, 11 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott. The late night tradition continues with this cabaret-style show.

Flow Show – Thursday, June 27th, 1 pm in the Anthony Wayne Ballroom. $10 tickets sold at the registration table and at the door; not included in the festival package. Watch some of the best flow artists at the fest share their amazing talents.

Renegade – Thursday, June 27th, 11 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott. The late night tradition continues with this cabaret-style show.

Cascade of Stars Show – Saturday, June 29th, 7:30 pm at the Embassy Theatre. Finish out the week by watching a top notch cast of international jugglers doing what they do best. Many in the cast are making their North American debut at the IJA Festival.

The World’s Top Juggling Competitions

If you like juggling competitions, then look no further than the IJA Festival. We have a very wide variety of competitions for everyone to enjoy and even participate in.

X-Juggling – Tuesday, June 25th, 1 pm. Join in and show off the most extreme juggling tricks in a variety of categories.

Individual Props Competition – Wednesday, June 26th, 1 pm. See who will be crowned the top 3 ball, 3 club, and 3 rings jugglers at the fest.

Juniors Championship – Wednesday, June 26th, 7:30 pm at the Embassy Theatre, following the Youth Showcase. Cheer on some of the top jugglers under the age of 18 as they attempt to win a coveted gold medal.

Individuals and Teams Championships – Thursday, June 27th, 7:30 pm at the Embassy Theatre. Come watch the top juggling competition in the world.

Numbers Championship – Friday, June 28th, 1 pm. Come see who can juggle the most balls, rings, clubs, and bounce balls for the longest time and see if any new world records will be set.

Fight Night – Friday, June 28th, 11 pm. Watch as jugglers battle it out in combat to see who will be crowned the winner.

World Joggling Championships – Saturday, June 29th, 8 am at the Purdue University Fort Wayne Field House. See the fastest jogglers in the world race to the finish line in a variety of events.

Games – Saturday, June 29th, 1 pm in the gym. Join in the fun and compete in a wide variety of fun games that are open to anyone.

For more information about the Stage Championships, click here. For any of the other competitions, including rules and entry fees (if any), click here.


The 2019 IJA Festival will feature close to 100 workshops, lectures, and demonstrations on a huge variety of skills and topics. Learn from some of the very best instructors on the planet. To sign up to teach a workshop, click here.

Silent Auction

The IJA has not held an auction for a long time, but we’re bringing it back and making it a silent auction. Make sure to check out the amazing items that will be up for grabs on Saturday, June 29th, from 11:30 am to 3 pm in the gym. If you have props, posters, memorabilia, or anything else that you’d like to donate, please bring them to the festival. The money earned will help to support the amazing work that the IJA is doing around the world to support the art of juggling. Contact Scott Cain or David Cain if you have any questions. To kick things off, I am donating some rare Harry Lind clubs, some old Claude Crumley fiberglass clubs, and an amazing framed and signed Anthony Gatto ring and Anthony Gatto signed photo, which you can see below.

You can learn much more about the 2019 IJA Festival and register to attend at the official website, linked below.

Click here for the IJA Festival Website.

David Cain is a professional juggler, juggling historian, and the owner of the world's only juggling museum, the Museum of Juggling History. He is a Guinness world record holder and 16 time IJA gold medalist. In addition to his juggling pursuits, David is a successful composer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and singer as well as the author of twenty-six books. He and his children live in Middletown, OH (USA).

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