BIFA: The Bike Zoo brings butterflies on wheels to Breckenridge
Special to the Daily
If you go
What: The Bike Zoo
When: Noon to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, and Friday, Aug. 21
Where: Festival Square, 117 Washington Ave., Breckenridge
More information: Visit www.austinbikezoo.org.
BIFA schedule for Thursday, Aug. 20
All day — Art installation, Amy Scofield, Illinois Creek Trail
All day — Art installations, Steuart Bremner and Terry Talty, Iowa Hill and Moonstone trails
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. — “The Blue Trees,” an installation by Konstantin Dimopoulos, Blue River Plaza
Noon to 8 p.m. — “Abound,” an installation by Julie Hughes, Old Masonic Hall
Noon to 8 p.m. — ARTCRANK BRK, Old Masonic Hall
Noon to 9 p.m. — The Bike Zoo, Festival Square
6 p.m. — Pandas & People concert, Festival Square
7:30 p.m. — The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band concert, Festival Square
For more details on locations and a full schedule of events for the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, visit www.breckcreate.org/bifa.
The wheels of imagination keep turning at the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, as the larger-than-life butterflies of The Bike Zoo come to town on Thursday, Aug. 20, and Friday, Aug. 21, from noon to 9 p.m. in Festival Square. The timing also aligns with the USA Pro Challenge’s Stage 4 finish and time trial in Breckenridge those days.
Originally called the Austin Bike Zoo, The Bike Zoo was created in Austin, Texas, a decade ago and has since traveled internationally.
“We got started as a collaboration between bike builders and puppet makers,” said Jeremy Rosen, founder and owner of The Bike Zoo. “After we did our first parade in 2005, I realized how special it was and that there was a demand in the world for this sort of thing.”
The Bike Zoo visits towns and festivals for parades and performances, but most often, the hand-built creatures — which include the butterflies to be showcased in Breckenridge, as well as bats, eagles, rattlesnakes, owls and more — are meant to be looked at, photographed and even ridden.
“I guess the purpose is a little bit different for everybody involved,” Rosen said, “but, for me, I really enjoy making everybody smile. We are universally loved by people from all walks of life — everybody loves it, whether it’s to look at (the creatures), to take pictures in front of them or to ride up on them.”
There are four butterflies coming to BIFA, portraying the species of the monarch, tiger swallowtail, common blue and white monarch. The smallest of The Bike Zoo butterflies is 10 feet tall, and the largest are 18 feet tall.
In other renditions of the Zoo, onlookers can see creatures such as the giant rattlesnake, which is 80 feet in length, with 34 wheels and seats six people, or the flurry of fireflies, custom built for The Bike Zoo’s “Midsummer in Motion” production, which flicker their light in the night with a bright green glow.
The creative machines are easier to ride than a bike, Rosen said, because they have more than two wheels. This gives everyone a chance to get on, even people who have never ridden a bike or haven’t in decades, or people who are blind or have other disabilities.
The creatures come together from a mix of bike parts, plastic, foam, paint, fabric, rope lights and other found and purchased objects. Performer Belinda Pearl has been with The Bike Zoo for about four years. She pilots the art bikes so people can enjoy going for a ride on the animals.
“Also,” she said, “my job is to have fun.”
Pearl first saw The Bike Zoo at a New Year’s Eve event in Austin. Members of the crew were friends of friends at the time.
“One day I was offered a chance to work with them at a market, so I did,” she said, “and I’m so glad.”
Pearl said she sees people gain “genuine inspiration” from The Bike Zoo. They can see and play with the animals, cultivating their own desire to “make the art of their dreams.”
“The Bike Zoo is beautiful and inspiring,” she said. “(It) gives us a chance to ride giant butterflies and play with the natural world from a new perspective.”
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