Dalson Chen • Windsor Star – Jul 28, 2016
After months of preparation and years of waiting, the buskers are coming back to Windsor — courtesy of the Walkerville Buskerfest, Aug. 12 to 14.
“I heard the great stories of the busker festival here in the past,” said professional busker Jason Henderson — a.k.a. Kobbler Jay, a.k.a. Seb Whipits — the key organizer of the upcoming event.
“We want to bring it back. Windsor is ready for this festival.”
During the festival dates, the Walkerville neighbourhood of Wyandotte Street East will be temporarily closed to host three simultaneous performance areas, upon which an international cast of buskers will ply their eye-catching trade.
The talent ranges from the flaming power of Rotterdam’s Pyromancer (“Magnificent,” Henderson said) to the bizarro sideshow acts of the Monsters of Schlock (“Super gross, but crazy good,” Henderson said).
There will also be ticketed shows at the Olde Walkerville Theatre and Walkerville Brewery.
Event promoter Jon Liedtke said the festival was made possible entirely through private sponsors: LiUNA 625, North 42 Degrees Estate Winery, Creative Homescapes, Snackbar-B-Q, and The Willistead Restaurant.
“It’s been two decades since the buskers first came to Windsor,” Liedtke said. “It’s great to bring back a city tradition that we know a lot of people really liked. Windsor deserves a buskerfest.”
Walkerville Buskerfest isn’t relying on dollars from any level of government. “None. Not one,” Henderson said.
Planning for the event began last summer, with the help of Mark Boscariol and Mark Lefebvre. Henderson said he hopes to make the festival an annual highlight, and to restore Windsor’s reputation in the busking community.
“I think it’s going to be beautiful … All we need now is the public to come out for it.”
The lineup of performers includes:
- Pyromancer from Rotterdam, Netherlands — described as “the greatest fire act in the world.”
- Irish magician, ventriloquist, sword-swallower, and pick-pocket Jack Wise.
- German performance artist JOHNman, known for his living statue acts Blanko and Woody.
- Ohio’s Pogo Fred, a pogo stick master and holder of multiple world pogo records.
- Vermont husband and wife duo Secret Circus, who perform a spy-themed unicycle and archery act.
- Freak show artists the Monsters of Schlock, who will demonstrate feats of pain resistance and… insertion.
- The witty juggling skills of Kobbler Jay and the fiery whip trickery of Seb Whipits.
- Windsor’s own Stilt Guys.
Festival dates and hours are Friday, Aug. 12, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 13, 11:45 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 14, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Takes place on Wyandotte Street East from Lincoln to Devonshire Road. More details and complete schedule at walkervillebuskers.com.
See the “sneak peek” variety show featuring all the festival’s headliners on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Olde Walkerville Theatre (1564 Wyandotte St. E.). Starts 8 p.m., $10 admission.
Visit Walkerville Brewery (525 Argyle Rd.) on Aug. 12 and 13 for the late-night, adult-themed Busk After Dusk show, featuring the Monsters of Schlock. Starts 11 p.m., $10 admission, 19 and older only.
Advance tickets available online via ourevent.ca/event/buskerfest.