Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

  • Tag Archives wild west show
  • Whip contests at Annie Oakley Showcase July 26, open registration

    westernmovie031Greenville, OH – The 12th Annual Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase is scheduled to begin at 1PM, Saturday July 26th at the new event location of York Woods in Greenville, Ohio, during Annie Oakley Festival. In addition to Wild West Arts performances ranging from trick roping to precision knife throwing, the event also features some of the only public bullwhip competitions held anywhere in the United States.

    The exhibition whip contests are open to outside participation pending registration the day of the event. “We’ve opened it up to anyone to participate but we do have some restrictions,” says event producer, Gery L. Deer, director of The Whip Artistry Studio, the country’s only permanent, non-combative whip training school.

    “This is an exhibition competition, so it’s more for the spectators than the competitors and there are no ‘big’ prizes. A few people have donated whips and whip-related items but there’s no cash to be won. It’s mainly bragging rights from one of the longest-running whip contests in the country.”

    Deer points out that some of the best names in whip artistry will be on hand beginning with himself, a champion speed and accuracy competitor and 25-year veteran professional performer. Joining him will be “The Whip Guy,” whip artist Chris Camp, champion knife thrower and whip handler, Kirk Bass, and a host of others. The contests are based on long-standing events, many of which have gone by the wayside over the years.


    This year’s Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase features a contest straight from an Indiana Jones movie!

    The Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase started in 2002 as the Ohio regional convention for the former Wild West Arts Club (WWAC). Today, the event is the staple of western entertainment and competition at Annie Oakley Festival, a Darke County, Ohio favorite for more than half a century. Whip contests will be as follows:

    Classic Whip Speed & Accuracy – This is the age-old speed and accuracy competition modeled after those held at the international conventions of the former WWAC. Five target stands hold two foam cups each, on opposite sides and with each stand set for a different height. The event is timed and mistakes add seconds to each score with the lowest time is the ultimate goal.

    Whip Speed Switch – Similar to the Classic Speed & Accuracy, but competitors must use both hands, up one side and down the other targeting left-hand targets with the left hand and vice versa.

    The Original Bullwhip Fast Draw – This is a contest that originated with The Whip Artistry Studio and Annie Oakley events. Created by whip maker Paul Nolan, whip master Gery Deer and western re-enactor Chris Curtis, this is the most popular contest of the day. Competitors are paired in heats as they try to be the fastest draw with their whip from a “holstered” position and first to cut the target.

    The Raiders Fast Draw – This is a new contest for this year and a variation of the original fast draw. Taken from the opening scenes of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” competitors use an 8 or 10-foot bullwhip and are required to face away from each other with their whips completely holstered in a cross-draw position. When signaled, they turn and throw at the target, each trying to be the fastest.

    IMG_3582All of the contests will be held outdoors and followed at 2:30 by a matinee performance featuring whip artist Gery L. Deer, the knife throwing skills of Bass Blades and more. The Grand Wild West Showcase will begin at 5:30 PM, hosted by The Brothers & Co. Entertainers music and variety show.

    Participation is limited, first come, first served and, due to safety considerations, event producer has final say in whether a competitor may participate. Those interested in competing must meet eligibility guidelines as follows: 18 or older, must have their own (approved) whip equipment and register no later than 12:30PM the day of the contest. For more information contact the production office of GLD Enterprises at (937) 902-4857 or go online to

    Video from the 2013 Bullwhip Fast Draw …

  • Near and Far – Nappanee, Indiana and the Medicine Show …

    From The Director …

    A note from Gery L. Deer.

    August 5, 2013

    I’ve worked all over the country as a whip artist, writer and performer. From small hometown stages to Hollywood television projects, I think I’ve seen just about everything. This past weekend, however, I had the privilege of working with a gentleman who, in my mind, is the quintessential entertainment professional. His name is Dan Barth and for the last 40-plus years, he’s been in the medicine show business.

    Dan Barth's Medicine Show

    Dan Barth’s Medicine Show

    Dan and his wife, Ulli, have traveled all around the country with his turn-of-the-century medicine show wagon and stage, telling the history of the craft and entertaining crowds with the same kinds of routines used in the original shows. From ventriloquism to magic, I sat and watched nearly every show he did over our four days together and marveled at how his audience was so taken with his work.

    In today’s high-paced world of technology and squirrel-like attention spans, I was fascinated to watch people of all ages sit in the hot, Indiana sun and hang on Dan’s every motion and word. It was gratifying to see that people still have an interest in this kind of entertainment; a type that now seems relegated to the odd variety act or child’s birthday party and even then, thoroughly under-appreciated.

    Not this weekend however. People loved watching Dan’s performance, myself included. Ironically, I felt good about the fact that in The Brothers & Co. Variety Show, we are using some of the same routines he includes in his show on a regular basis. Now I think I finally understand why they are always so well-received.

    Gery L. Deer and Dan Barth - August 3, 2013.

    Gery L. Deer (left) and Dan Barth – August 3, 2013.

    But from a whip artist’s standpoint, Dan’s presentation and his audience’s reaction to it allowed me to see more about my own show than I have ever noticed before. As performers, if our mind is in the right place, we work hard to entertain the audience. I have always believed that most skilled performers spend far too much time showing off their respective talents and too little actually entertaining anyone but themselves.

    Dan’s mind is always on the audience. His number one consideration is what will make them smile, laugh, ooh and ahh, all while carrying away a little history they may not have known about before. He may be in it to make a living, but he really wants his audience to have experienced something unique for their time and he genuinely appreciates their attention.

    Personally, I’ve seen just about every possible incarnation of sideshow, Wild West performance, medicine show and variety act. But there was something unique about Dan Barth’s performance. It was unassuming, generous and genuine. It had my attention every time, even though, by the end of the first day, I could practically recite his script verbatim.

    With a little history and a lot of charm, Dan Barth brings to life the 400-year-old linking rings to a whole new generation.

    With a little history and a lot of charm, Dan Barth brings to life the 400-year-old linking rings to a whole new generation.

    With a 25 minute show, Dan Barth’s Medicine Show captivated the audience with no more than four or five routines. But, in the end, it’s not what you do on stage, but how you do it. No matter how great your technical skill, there is always room to make your show more engaging to an audience. A whip trick is over in less than a blink of an eye, but if you package it properly, it will be memorable for a lifetime.


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