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Swan Brothers a 37-year staple at Lodi Grape Festival

History on display, performers ready as Festival opens today

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413 E. Lockeford St. Lodi CA

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:00 am

The Swan Brothers Circus has been performing on the fair and festival circuit for 40 years. And they’ve been coming to the Lodi Grape Festival for 37 of them.

But there’s something different this year about the festival staple — it’s being held indoors at Cabernet Hall.

Traditionally, the Swan Brothers have taught people to juggle and performed other children’s acts on the east side of the festival grounds near the carnival rides. But Andy Swan — known professionally as Zippy — didn’t want to compete with the nearby tiger exhibit.

“When you have the tigers and clowns, the tigers win,” Zippy said.

Zippy said he hasn’t gotten tired of the carnival festival circuit despite going at it for four decades.

“It beats working for a living,” he said. “I’m hoping to go for 10 more years. Hopefully, I don’t get hit by an ice cream truck along the way.”

Across from the circus act, festival-goers will be able to see a model aerobatic airplane with a gasoline engine for the first time. It’s a 1960s vintage aircraft that Greg Hennefer, president of the Tokay Radio Modelers Club, purchased in June. You can also see a variety of smaller model aircraft at the festival.

And the Grape Pavilion has a new look.

It has traditionally housed murals made of grapes. They’re still in the pavilion, but for the second year, the murals will be surrounded by several vintage cars and dresses worn by the Grape Festival queens in years past. The Grape Festival had a queen from 1934 through 1979, according to 1971 queen Regina Clements Dobretz.

Vehicles that can be seen in the Grape Pavilion include a 1956 Oldsmobile, a 1930 Ford Model A pickup, a 1940 Mercury Coupe and a 1940 Packard Woody.

The festival opens today and runs through Sunday.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

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