Lawrence Busker Festival offers alternative entertainment for students
- Aug. 26, 2012
- 0 Comments
Fire-eaters, jugglers, musicians, dancers, and magicians were the main features of the fifth annual Lawrence Busker Festival, a three-day event held last weekend in Downtown Lawrence. Massachusetts Street was filled with students, families and Lawrence residents who could experience the excitement of the various performers at designated “stages” throughout the weekend.
“What makes [The Busker Festival] a festival is that there’s a lot more performers, but also there’s a lot more people; people come downtown specifically to see the street performers,” Busker Festival event organizer Richard Renner said in an interview with Kansas Public Radio.
The cost of the festival was free, except for tips for the performers. In addition to the shows, a Busker Ball was held Friday at The Lawrence Art Center, 940 New Hampshire, where Lawrence residents previewed the festival followed by an informal meet-and-greet with the performers. Aaron Farish, a magician from Kansas City, Kan., said one of the best things about street performing is getting paid to practice through tips.
“I like having the ability to draw in a big crowd, make them laugh and make them stick around to watch the show,” Farish said.
The three-day festival featured four different “stages” along downtown Lawrence: an Eighth Street Stage, a Musicians Pitch Stage at 815 Massachusetts Street, a Plaza Stage at the intersection of Ninth and Massachusetts streets and a 10th Street Stage, as well as performances held at The Lawrence Art Center. Each day had scheduled acts in addition to facepainters, human statues and balloon artists. Specific times were set up for bigger performances, such as sword swallowing and other interactive shows. Will Hawkins, a graduate student from North Carolina, said his favorite act at this year’s Busker Festival was the Pogo Dudes, specializing in extreme stunts using special pogo sticks.
“[The Pogo Dudes] were pretty sick; it was terrifying to watch, but in a good way,” Hawkins said.
Besides the entertainment shows, The Busker Festival featured a wide variety of live music, ranging from guitar and vocal performances to human organic music, inspired by nature. Amanda Williams, a 2004 KU alumna from Topeka, not only attended the Busker Festival, put participated in it as well, performing tricks with hula hoops. She said the live music was one of the most important aspects of the event.
“I love seeing live music encouraged by the general public and seeing parents bringing their children out to the shows,” Williams said.
In addition to live entertainment, The Busker Festival offered workshops for children on Saturday at The Lawrence Art Center from 9:30 a.m. until noon. The cost was $10 per child, and workshops included tips in balloon making, juggling, and magic. The three-day event concluded Sunday afternoon after final performances.
Students and alumni flooded the streets of Downtown Lawrence with friends and significant others to join in the excitement of the festival. Brandon Daley, a senior from Wichita, said he originally came to Massachusetts Street to eat, but decided to stay and watch some of the entertainment.
“I love magic shows; I think they’re great, and they are one of my favorite things to watch,” Daley said. “We came for dinner and decided to save our tips for the best show.”
The best thing about being a busker, magician Farish said, is the practice you get from performing in front of crowds.
“Anybody can do it with enough practice,” Farish said.