Jurassic Kingdom did something almost no one at the Laurel County Fair expected to do by not only grasping the attention of the children at their shows but also teaching them.
Jurassic Kingdom is stationed just to the right of the entrance where multiple times a night the show teaches kids in a fun manner about dinosaurs using life-sized puppets which the kids could pet and interact with. The show begins with the iconic music from the “Jurassic Park" franchise and the host of the show, Ms. Kala, mimicking the movies’ iconic greeting, saying “Welcome to Jurassic Kingdom.”
“It’s what we call edutainment — it’s an educational-entertainment show,” said Jurassic Kingdom owner Hernan Colonia. He has been doing the show for four years now, touring the east coast, traveling from February to November and doing over 700 shows a year.
During Tuesday night's show, Colonia held the smaller puppets in his arm and carried them around to the children, but the larger puppets required him to slip into the body of the dinosaur, with his torso, arms and head engulfed in its lower abdomen while his legs slipped into open spaces of the dinosaurs' feet.
The first dinosaur brought out was a baby Triceratops named Ms. Sarah. It was brought around the barrier kids leaned against as Ms. Kala told them it would grow to be the size of a Volkswagen Beetle or an SUV.
“I think it brings a different type of imagination, especially to younger children and it educates them a lot,” said Savannah Kissel Seibert, one of the owners of the carnival. “I think that we kind of forget different things in school nowadays and we don’t touch on certain subjects.”
Soon a Dilophosaurus, a Velociraptor-sized dinosaur, “ran” into the show area and spit water into the crowd (it is theorized the dinosaur may have been able to spit poisonous venom at its prey to attack it, according to ScientificAmerican.com). The Dilophosaurus puppet was inaccurately depicted with frills on its neck, which was a feature that was invented for “Jurassic Park” to help the audience differentiate it from the velociraptor, according to ThoughtCo.com.
Ms. Kala later showed those in the crowd a fossil of a tooth from a Megalodon, a gigantic, shark-like dinosaur that she said was big enough to swallow a school bus whole. She then pulled out a fossil of a much larger Megalodon that was found in Texas, saying Jurassic Kingdom had those who found it make a mold of it and send it to them.
For the show’s grand finale a 2-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex named Sparky was brought out, but he didn’t act intimidating in the stereotypical way the dinosaur has been depicted in the past. Ms. Kala told the audience it was much more focused on protecting its family and scavenging food that some dinosaurs had already eaten, similar to a vulture today.
Sparky then did a trick for the crowd, standing up as high as he could after the crowd cheered for him. He also showed the crowd his “selfie face” and later was fed a styrofoam bone from a kid from the crowd, but not before pretending to eat one of the children in the crowd.
The performance ended with Sparky dancing and Ms. Kala telling the audience that it’s everyone’s responsibility to take care of the planet by recycling and picking up trash, even it’s not their own.
Ms. Kala said the way Jurassic Kingdom keeps its audience entertained is with “lots and lots of jokes, lots and lots of fun,” and using Sparky as a vehicle to keep the jokes relatable. “We have him come out and dance and we pull out some of the new dance moves, like the floss or whatever the new thing is.”
She also said having a similar type of brand recognition to the “Jurassic Park” franchise was another way the program captures its audience’s attention.
Joyce Lawson came with her family and said her favorite part was when Sparky pretended to eat some of the kids.
Tiffany Mills went to the fair with her children and said they have all watched the “Jurassic Park” movies at home. “We learned a lot about the dinosaurs that we didn't know,” she said.
Jurassic Kingdom does not travel with the carnival, but it does partner up with different ones to do fairs. Colonia said it has already been at 27 county and state fairs this year.
Jurassic Kingdom will have three shows each on Friday and Saturday at the Fair as well.