Crack that whip: Midwest Whip Association to hold demo, offer expert tips

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, one of John Cantin's martial arts instructors showed up with a bullwhip and asked if anyone wanted to learn how to make it crack.

"I could not get it to crack. But it was something I wanted to understand and figure out how to do," said Cantin, a Crystal Lake resident.

Three years later, Cantin has helped organize the Midwest Whip Association. The seven-member organization based in McHenry County has been getting together at an area park and learning how to wield whips - and make them, too.

Anyone who wants to take a crack at learning to use a bullwhip themselves is invited to a Crystal Lake park for their shot.

Adam "Crack" Winrich, a 32-time Guinness World Record Holder and Bristol Renaissance Faire headliner, will demonstrate his skills from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25, at Crystal Lake's Veteran Acres Park, 431 Walkup Road.

"For whip crackers this will be a unique opportunity to get tips from an internationally known expert. For spectators, this is a rare opportunity to meet and interact with a multi-world record holder and renowned performer," Cantin wrote in a news release.

Angela Johnstad-Beyer, of Milwaukee, is another member of the whip association. She and her husband, Daryck Beyer, also started learning to crack whips during the height of the pandemic. They met Cantin online, in Facebook forums for people interested in the skill.

Learning how to get the whip to crack - where the tip breaks the sound barrier - isn't about brute strength, she said.

"It is a finesse versus a power skill," Johnstad-Beyer said.

It isn't the only skill Cantin picked up with the hobby, either. He searched on YouTube, found tutorials on whip making, and began building them himself. That, he said, is more economical than purchasing a whip.

Social media is also where he connected with Winrich. Once he learned Winrich offered lessons, Cantin invited him to teach a local event.

There is no fee for the casual event "and everyone is welcome to come" and learn, even if they have no experience with cracking a whip, Cantin said.

More information on the club is available at its website,

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