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Few children’s performers are as well-known, well-loved, and well-traveled around the greater DC area than Eric Knaus, better known as The Great Zucchini. The Great Zucchini has been a fixture in the DC Metro area for over 30 years
The Great Zucchini has performed at embassies, the world bank, the CIA, past presidents, and is the only children’s entertainer to grace the stage at the world famous DC Improv. He does 900 shows a year at preschools, birthday parties, malls and major festivals, in the metro area.
If you think The Great Zucchini’s life sounds pretty interesting you are not alone. His life story has been optioned by Hollywood.
Performing over 900 shows a year for kids means that the Great Zucchini knows the best places to bring kids all over the DC area. Here are his top ten recommendations.
Jammin Java: Jammin Java may have started out as a concert venue and bar, but today it’s just as well known for its family performances featuring not just the Great Zucchini but some of his other favorite are children’s performers like Rocknoceros.
Leesburg Animal Park: The Great Zucchini has a soft spot for cute animals and the Leesburg Animal Park has them in abundance. He also loves that the staff is so caring and great with animals and kids, and he loves that there is lot of access to the cutest baby goats, a 100 year old tortoise, monkeys, etc. There is even a rooster that regularly walks in front of the stage when he performs. He is working on jokes that will get the rooster to laugh.
Frying Pan Park: This expansive park has tons of space for kids to run around, great areas for parties and performances and one the Great Zucchini’s favorite things, a petting zoo with cute animals.
Busy Bees: Although the Great Zucchini is just a bit too tall to play at Busy Bees (limited to kids 48 inches or shorter) he loves performing at birthday parties there and knows how much fun the kids have playing on the varied play equipment before setting down for his show and cake.
Saturday Morning at the National: Taking the kids downtown is always an adventure worth taking. On Saturday mornings the National Theatre welcomes kids to enjoy free performances just for younger audiences. The Great Zucchini performs in all kind of venues but this is one of the few opportunities he has had to bring children into a real theatre, some for the first time. It’s a great way to get kids comfortable seeing live entertainment so that they will continue to go when they are older.
Jumping Joeys: Jumping Joeys is another popular spot for both playing and birthday parties. The Great Zucchini thinks the kids can’t get enough of bounce houses there. They are a lot of fun for kids, although probably not quite as much fun as watching his performance.
Clemyjontri Park – Clemyjontri Park isn’t just one of the largest playgrounds in our area, it’s also a completely accessible park. There is plenty of space for parties and performances and the Great Zucchini is a big fan of any playground that welcomes all children to play. There is even an accessible carousel.
Festivals: The Great Zucchini is often invited to perform at festival and always has a good time. The Fairfax Fall Festival and Viva Vienna festivals have attractions like rides, a petting zoo, shows, and plenty of food.
Spy Museum: While the Great Zucchini has never performed there, he thinks it’s a great place to explore with kids. He has seen his friend Peter Wood perform magic shows there for older kids a few times and it’s always a good time!
Little Ivies DC: Little Ivies DC is a new play space that offers preschool-prep classes and after school activities. They also host birthday parties and the Great Zucchini, who loves performing there, thinks that kids have blast playing in the fun space full of activities and toys for tots.