Hats Off To The Walkerville Buskerfest
Windsor’s hottest and trendiest neighbourhood is gearing up to host street performers from across the globe with the Walkerville Buskerfest set to take over a stretch of Wyandotte Street East in mid-August.
Dotted with great restaurants and interesting stores, all connected by a beautiful new streetscaping design, this year’s festival promises to be bigger and better than all those which preceded it, according to organizers.
A similar festival has been held in Windsor on and off for most of the last 20 years, but this year’s version promises to be even more successful, largely because of the location, believes Co-Organizer/Executive Director Mark Lefevbre of the Stilt Guys.
“It will be held along Wyandotte from Devonshire to Lincoln, anchored at one end by the Walkerville Brewery and at the other by the Olde Walkerville Theatre,” explains Lefebvre, who performs all across Ontario. “In between there are dozens of great restaurants and stores, which will benefit from the exposure during the weekend party.”
The festival is expected to draw hundreds of people to the three day event and business owners are hoping they stay, eat and shop in stores, bars and restaurants throughout the area.
“It should be a great event and our BIA members are looking forward to being a part of it,” says Jake Rondot, Chairman of the Walkerville Business Improvement Association (BIA) for the past decade. “We have been very welcoming to any kind of festival in our BIA because we know how much it means to our businesses to have hundreds of people walking the streets for three days.”
The festival takes place August 12 to 14, running from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on opening night, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Lefebvre says the event also features a preview show on August 11 at the Olde Walkerville Theatre, for which tickets are required to be purchased, and a finale featuring all of the buskers on the final afternoon at 5 p.m.
During the day, the event is completely free and family-friendly, but in the evening, “Busk after Dusk” takes over at the Walkerville Brewery with a pair of late evening adult themed shows for which tickets are also required to be bought.
Producer of the event Mark Boscariol, Owner of the Willistead Restaurant in Walkerville, as well as downtown’s Snackbar-B-Q, comments that the festival’s demise in the past was largely due to the fact it was held at the Riverfront Festival Plaza.
“It’s a festival of street performers so first of all, you need a street,” says Boscariol. “It didn’t fail from lack of interest. It just wasn’t the right venue for such a festival.”
Lefebvre agrees: “I have always thought that the riverfront was more of a concert venue, but this is a true street festival and an urban setting works best.”
Boscariol continues, “Now it’s in the right place, we hope we can create a long-running festival in a great urban setting. It already has great name recognition from past festivals and Mark and I felt the best way to bring this festival back is to get buskers themselves involved in running it.”
So Lefebvre enlisted a fellow busker to be the show’s booking agent in order to bring the best and most entertaining buskers on the international circuit to Windsor.
Performers from across Canada and the U.S., as well as Holland, Germany and Ireland have been retained for the show by Artistic Director Jason Henderson and his wife Kaela, through their booking agency.
As “Kobbler Jay” Henderson is showcasing his juggling, fire-eating, glass walking and unbelievable balancing talents. And as “Seb Whipits” he shows off his unicycle and whip cracking skills. This adult show also features an incredible duel fire whip finale.
A native of Niagara Falls, Henderson has been on the travelling busker circuit for the past 10 years and is also Artistic Director of the “P.E.I. Busker Fest.”
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Feature photo by Rod Denis – Biz X magazine