The pirate and his parrots
For the most part, the Jackson County fair is what one would expect: carnival rides, fried food and livestock. And then there is Chris Biro in his pirate outfit standing in front of his 1976 Navy lifeboat with his more than a dozen parrots.
Biro is not the star of the show though, rather it is the parrots that interact with the audiences.
“What would the pirate do at the fair if it wasn't for the bird?” he asked. “The pirate ship, it's just an extension of my costume, but the show itself is not pirate at all. I mean, the most pirate thing I do is say ‘Arr’ at the beginning of the show, that's it.”
Biro’s 30 years performing make him appear as if he was put on earth to work with parrots. However, Biro said that he stumbled into his act by accident.
His performance has evolved from riding his motorcycle with his flying-friend on his back, gaining notoriety and eventually earning an invitation to talk to to elementary students.
Dressing up as a pirate and his gig at fairs also were accidents.
“I put on a little cheesy pirate outfit, and I carried a couple birds around with me and just walked around the fair in Waterville, Washington,” he explained. “And then one of the fair managers said ‘you're on stage at 3 o'clock’ and I said ‘what the hell am I supposed to do on stage?’”
Biro went along with it and performed his elementary school script and, to his surprise, it worked. The crowd loved it and he’s been doing it ever since.
The show attracts a lot of children with short attention spans, so Biro deliberately makes it as engaging as possible.
“I don't talk about how a parrot comes from this part of Africa, they're not going to remember those details at all. At best they'll remember Africa,” he said. “I don't want to talk about things that the audience is going to forget.”
Instead, he talks about subjects like how birds have more color sensing cones in their eyes, and how the colorful parrots ended up in the United States.
David Flood, who watched one of Biro’s acts Friday with his family, said he appreciated how interactive Biro was and how he and his parrots stayed after the show to take pictures.
“He has a very good way of speaking — he’s articulate and he's obviously passionate about the parrots,” Flood said. “He did a really nice job.”
Although the job can be grueling with a lot of time spent on the road, potential quick turnarounds between fairs on top of caring for more than a dozen parrots, but Biro wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I could be working at a hardware store and not feel like I'm making a difference in the world,” Biro said. “With this, I feel like I'm making a difference in the world. And that, that's worth a lot.”