Greatest Farm On EarthUpstater Magazine Summer 2017 | By Upstate House | Photos by John Garay
For circus trainer Jenny Vidbel, who lives on her family’s 58-acre farm at the foot of Windham Mountain, the Catskill Mountains aren’t quite the “big top,” but their silhouette works just fine. For three generations, the Vidbels have been circus artists as well as farmers. Vidbel is an equestrian/animal trainer. Her late grandparents, Joyce and Al, a circus equestrian and animal trainer specializing in elephants, respectively, kicked off the family’s circus legacy.
Vidbel grew up immersed in both the farm and the circus. Inspired by her family, she became a circus trainer. This fall the Big Apple Circus will open for its 40th season with Vidbel and members of her menagerie of rescues and retired circus and farm animals—15 ponies, nine horses, nine dogs, four pigs, a donkey, and a lama—in the lineup. When they’re not performing, Vidbel’s animals live with her on the farm. In 2018, Vidbel and her partner, retired trapeze artist Guillaume Dufresnoy, will open Windham Mountain Horse Theater, a 250-seat indoor ampitheater, to provide public performances. They are also launching a foundation offering animal therapy programs to disadvantaged kids, special-needs kids and adults, and seniors.
Article by Elissa Garay.