BANGOR, Maine — There is a baby Tyrannosaurus rex at the Bangor State Fair and the animatronic puppet operated from within by a human is so realistic that some children think he’s alive.
“I get all kinds of kids and I even get some adults who believe it’s real,” puppeteer Eric Teas of McKenzie, Tennessee, said Monday afternoon. “I chase them around.”
“Buster,” the life-sized baby T. rex, was prowling the midway on Wednesday with Teas carrying around the 80-pound rubberized puppet on his shoulders. His feet strap into the dinosaur’s feet with velcro and his head is located at about the 7-foot-tall dinosaur’s shoulders.
“There is a camera here,” owner Jim Hutching of Studio Magic Productions Inc. of Dyersburg, Tennessee, said, pointing to a small lens on the puppet’s nose. “There is a TV monitor inside so [Teas] can see where he’s going and see people.”
Buster’s animatronics allow him to make movements that appear real, such as turning his head, Hutching said. Similar puppets were used in the BBC filming of “Walking with Dinosaurs,” he said.
“You should see the people — it’s like a magnet,” Teas said. “They will follow me all around.”
The baby T-Rex comes out five times daily at the fair, with times that are scheduled around emu races that the Tennessee entertainment company also manages. Showtimes change daily and are posted at the front gate and on the Bangor State Fair’s website.
The two events are among dozens of attractions at the 166th annual fair.
Hutching, whose stage name is “Dr. Jack Cage,” and animal rescuer David Hart, whose stage name is “Houston Steel,” are lifelong friends who started doing magic shows at birthday parties when they were youngsters. They have been in the entertainment business since and now incorporate their love of animals in their shows.
“We hope to educate people, but we want it to be a little fun,” Hutching said.