Ah…hear that? It’s the sound of a quiet campus and minimal traffic. The students are gone! As the houses and classrooms empty and townies depart on vacations, Lawrence will settle into summer with a hazy, humid sigh. But do not get the mellow rhythm confused with boredom-nay, I encourage you to take advantage of the summer time! Lawrence is your playground this season. Galleries are still full, restaurants are still serving, and fun is still to be had. As a matter of fact, the last weekend of May holds one of Lawrence’s most beloved events- the 11th Annual Busker Festival. Read on to find out just how many times you can watch someone swallow a sword or juggle fire.
First up, Final Fridays fare. You know the drill- local artists, unique galleries, first-time exhibits, diverse mediums. Don’t forget the food and drink-cocktails, finger foods, dinner entrees. There is something special in every shop and gallery, but this weekend you will not want to miss the Art Tougeau pre-parade pARTy. The Art Tougeau parade is full of art on wheels (to go…get it…?) and general merriment. The parade will take place Saturday morning, starting and ending at the Lawrence Arts Center, but you can get a sneak peak Friday night. The street pARTy will showcase some of the art cars that will be in the parade, as well as bring in food trucks and live music. Honestly, I’m getting excited just writing about it. Experiencing a summer night in Lawrence, when the streets and people are filled with energy and the sun is dancing behind the trees, is truly a remarkable thing.
This Friday night is the real deal, because not only is it a Final Friday and the Art Tougeau pre-party, it is also the first night of the Busker Festival. The Busker Fest will be celebrating eleven years of inducing oohs and aahs from Mass. St. crowds thanks to stunts, tricks, and the defiance of gravity. Friday night is also a bit of a preview for what Saturday holds as far as performances go. There are six different locations where scheduled performances will be taking place, so you can get a feel for what “genre” each location exhibits. For example, Gazzo the street magician lives in the Sorcerer’s Circle, near the corner of 8th and Mass. The Circus Alley will have youth circus groups, acrobats, juggling, and workshops that you can participate in.
So, Saturday. The Art Tougeau parade is kicking things off at 12:00pm-remember, it starts at the Lawrence Arts Center, but you can get a good spot along Mass to watch. From then until 10:30 that night, the world of street performing awaits! A few highlights I would suggest making the time to see are Mama Lou-Strongwoman and Tricks of the Light-Light, Fire and Dance. It’s not a Busker Fest without Mama Lou, now is it? Other crowd pleasers are the Snap Boogie breakdancing acrobatics, Pete Sweet, the slack rope walker, and the Voler Thieves of Flight aerial artists. This year, the line up also includes a speed painter and a man who does “scary stunts,” both of which certainly have me intrigued. For a full schedule of the weekend’s performances, as well as information about each artist, click here.
If you miss a performance on Saturday, you might get lucky and catch them Sunday! The schedule is not quite as packed, but still worth coming to see the buskers you may have missed. And I don’t know about you, but Sunday sounds like the perfect day to get breakfast at one of the popular spots on Mass St. and then hang out in one of the many parks downtown Lawrence has to offer. Breakfast and buskers…what’s not to love?
Trust me when I say you won’t want to miss it! The first time I experienced Busker Fest, I walked into it unknowingly. Talk about being stunned! This weekend is truly one that Lawrence looks forward to all year. The weather is beautiful, the entertainment is rich, and it is a prime time to just have some fun.
Kate is a recent KU graduate and perpetual lover of words, details, and Jayhawk basketball. She is using her English degree to write both creatively and strategically. You can find more of her work on her blog, A Story By Me.