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High-wire act to thrill audiences in Dayton

Louis B. Ruediger | Total Trib Media
Chris Serena of Vandergrift shows off a jar of pickles he just entered into competition at the Dayton Fair that starts Sunday morning. This is the fifth year Serena has entered the competition. Friday August 8, 2014.

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Sunday: Vesper services at 7 p.m., followed by the crowning of the fair queen

Monday: Official opening at 3 p.m. and the start of amusement park rides at 5 p.m.

Tuesday: Farm tractor pull, 7 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday: Harness racing at noon

Thursday: 4x4 Mud Bog, 7 p.m.

Friday: Demolition derby, 7:30 p.m

Saturday: Love and Theft concert at 8 p.m., followed by a fireworks show

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, 12:41 a.m.

It may be the first year pirates join tractors, livestock, baked goods and pickles when the Dayton Fair opens on Sunday. The Sensational Murcias hope it won't be the last.

The tightrope-walking family from Bradenton, Fla., spends time on the high wire rather than the high seas. But members have plenty of sword fights in their act to go around.

“We try to do something different,” said Walter Murcia, 47, patriarch of the daring clan. “The show is like no other in the business.”

Dayton Fair Board President Larry Marshall agreed.

“I never saw anything like them before,” he said. “We always work hard to get an interesting fair.”

From the sounds of it, the Murcias are the only high-wire pirate act around. Their “Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean Aerial High Wire Thrill Show” is a copyrighted performance that will take place twice a day during the week at the fair.

Walter Murcia built the ship that holds a 25-foot tightrope in the air. He also built the “Wheel of Destiny.” It looks like a windmill adorned with a large skull and crossbones. Murcia family members climb atop the wheel as it spins.

The performance's plot focuses on a good guy-bad guy battle for a treasure chest.

“It's just pure action the whole show,” said Walter's son, Tony, 14.

Tony is following in his parents' footsteps. His dad and his mother, Victoria, come from a long line of tightrope walkers and trapeze artists.

The troupe's past experience includes gigs at the Miami Seaquarium and the Los Angeles County Fair. Their stop in Dayton is only their second Pennsylvania performance. They performed three years ago in Washington County, according to Walter Murcia. He has performed as far away as Japan.

There is one place the Murcias have set their sights on that isn't far from Dayton: Pittsburgh's PNC Park.

Since they hail from Bradenton — the home of Pirates spring training — they hope one day to take their performance to a ballgame in the city.

“We want to see if we can do a show for them. We'd really like to do that,” Walter Murcia said.

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at

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