Did you know that very few cities have a festival dedicated to this activity of busking?! It’s that time of year again when a plethora of jugglers, actors, dancers, magicians, singers and more show up in downtown Lawrence! The question is, what is the best way to get the most out of the Lawrence Buskerfest? I decided it would be best to go direct to the source and pose this question to Lawrence Buskerfest founder and longtime Lawrencian, Richard Renner.
Mr. Renner said the first action one should enjoy this “three-day festival celebrating street performers, weird, odd and unique people performers with interesting acts,” would be to go to the closest ATM for $1s, $5s and $10s put the kids in the stroller and head downtown during the festival which is from Friday, May 26th through Sunday, May 28th, 2017. Each main stage area has a schedule or you can go online to http://LawrenceBuskerfest.com.
Now really you know all you need to know, however, I am going to let you in on a little secret. There is another fabulous opportunity to get a preview the day before the festival even starts! On Thursday, May 25th, The Granada at 1020 Massachusetts, will have the BUSKERBALL sponsored by Boulevard Beer and Kansas Territory Brewing Co. The BUSKERBALL says, “Come join us for a night of up-close and personal busker action. We’ll start with an exclusive stage show and follow it up with an informal meet and greet where you can get to know talented street performers from all over the world. The line-up for the show includes all the visiting Buskers we have. You can expect to see the biggest and best acts of the festival all on the big stage. Afterward, you can join them for some snacks and drinks and really get to know these folks.” All of this action has a ticket price of just $5, so this is a great way to see which acts you don’t want to miss and get a chance to meet them as well. Come-one-come-all…Shhhh, just don’t tell them who let the cat out of the bag!
Back for more this year is Bobby Maverick, magician and escape artist, who will be at the festival performing a Harry Houdini-style escape stunt which features words such as; “inverted” and “straight jacket”, which is enough to make this claustrophobic person cringe but keep one eye open to make sure that everything is okay. Another crowd favorite who has busked Lawrence before is MamaLou, “Strongwoman”. Voler Thieves of Flight, “aerial artists” will perform high-flying stunts on silks outside of the Lawrence Arts Center. It may be a rumor, but did one of these artists fall last year? I just got a chill down my spine even thinking about this. If you are more into fire, “Awesome Fire Juggler”, Jason D’Vaude from KC, MO, will be in town with his normal fire taming antics. Speaking of pyro’s, Tricks of Light, “Lights Fire and Dance”, will perform a “marvelous blend of music, fire, dance, manipulation and magic.” Other performers include Sorcerer’s Circle and the Mechanical Man “as the Painted Living Statue.” One fun show that my family and I really enjoyed last year was Adorkable Derek.We were all a little nervous during his act, especially when he was riding a 20′ unicycle and doing tricks. He is great at encouraging audience participation.
Renner said in addition to some of the amazing reoccurring acts that there are a few brand new individuals and groups this year which include Greg Frisbee with his “Rubber Chicken Show”, Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which is an “action-packed spy-fi comedy show”, Snap Boogie will perform his “break dancing aerobatics” as seen on America’s Got Talent. I remember seeing this show on AGT and it was impressive. Snap Boogie has some seriously amazing “ups”. Also new this year are, Bruiser – “the Worlds Biggest Dog”, Martika Daniels, Sideshow Stuntwoman who is “on the cutting edge of entertainment” (read “sword swallower”).
More buskers than can be named will be downtown Lawrence performing for your delight. Please enjoy the shows and afterward encourage these talented performers by filling their hat to overflowing.
In addition, I would personally like to thank Richard Renner for all of his hard work to put on this fabulous annual event, and also would like to thank all of the amazing businesses who sponsors the buskers. As a community we can continue to make the Lawrence Buskerfest, “Unmistakably Lawrence” and as Renner states, an “oddly different” annual event so we don’t have to fly to Ireland or another location worldwide to enjoy these special talents.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars! I am sure your calendar fills up this time of year just as fast as mine does.
What are some of your favorite acts from years past? The more popular acts are the ones who get invited back to entertain you, so to make sure yours is here next year be a squeaky wheel, do your best imitation of a barking seal, or just cheer!
Darin M. White
In addition to blogging for Explore Lawrence and interviewing fellow artists for Lawrence Magazine, award-winning artist and sculptor Darin M. White continues to create works on his own and with his wife, Shannon White, as @WhiteArtStudio, whose public art installations such as the Green Note Project have received backing from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. They also create custom designs and furniture with @HAVAstudios.