Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fire-eaters could heat up downtown

Street performers would congregate during proposed Busker Fest 2008

May 14, 2008


Unique festival headed for downtown Lawrence

Downtown Lawrence will be a crazy place come mid-August - and not just because KU students return to town. Downtown Lawrence Inc. - and a local entertainment company - are planning a unique festival. Enlarge video

On the street

Would you want to attend a festival of street performers in downtown Lawrence?

I think it would be a lot of fun. I’m a little worried about the noise because I work downtown. But as long as it’s well-organized, I think it sounds like a good idea.

More responses

You thought the mid-August weekend when Kansas University students returned to Lawrence was crazy enough.

Just imagine what it will be like when you add fire-eaters.

It looks like there will be no need to imagine. Leaders of Downtown Lawrence Inc. and a Lawrence-based entertainment company are teaming up to host a unique street performers festival downtown as students begin moving back into residence halls Aug. 16 and 17.

"This is definitely going to add to the character of downtown," said Richard Renner, of Lawrence-based Vodvill Entertainment Co. "It energizes areas. People love to be surprised."

Renner's company - which books shows for about 300 performers ranging from "trained pig acts" to escape artists - received city support Tuesday to organize Busker Fest 2008. The festival - named after a British term for street performers - received a $1,000 grant from the Lawrence Arts Commission.

No trained pigs are expected to be downtown, but Renner is working to attract about a dozen professional street performers from places such as San Francisco, Boulder, Colo., and other hot spots of street performing.

That means Massachusetts Street may end up looking like a surreal dream, or at least one of those humdingers you have after eating chili too close to bedtime. On one corner may be a man on stilts, on another a man struggling to escape from a straitjacket, and yes, someone almost certainly will be playing with fire.

"There are two rules in street performing: height and fire," Renner said. "If you can get up real high and set something on fire at the same time, you are fantastic."

But before you start calling your insurance agent to add extra coverage, organizers promise that the performers will be professionals. Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said the performers will be several cuts above the variety of street musicians that frequently can be found downtown.

Pennington said her group was excited about the event - which also will feature more traditional musicians - because it will add to Lawrence's reputation as a city committed to the arts. It also adds to downtown's reputation of being one-of-a-kind, Pennington said.

"We thought it was a good opportunity to get people downtown and show them what a unique place we have," Pennington said.

Busker festivals are common overseas and in Canada, Renner said, but are nearly unheard of in the Midwest. Renner said he's optimistic that the festival will receive a $2,000 grant from the Kansas Arts Commission in addition to the $1,000 Lawrence Arts Commission grant. He said the event - which also is receiving help from the Lawrence Arts Center - is seeking corporate sponsorship to help pay travel costs for performers.

An exact schedule for the festival is still being developed, but Renner said the festival likely would start with morning performances at the Downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market and continue into the evening on that Saturday and Sunday. There will be no admission to the festival, but performers will be accepting tips.


Poon 9 years, 11 months ago

Today's news Fire-eaters could heat up downtownOnly if they emit enough Carbon Dioxide.

MarkMangino 9 years, 11 months ago

Did somebody mention something about eating?

Write2Know 9 years, 11 months ago

"at least one of those humdingers you have after eating chili too close to bedtime"What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Confrontation 9 years, 11 months ago

Are "trained pig acts" similar to donkey shows? I'm sure someone on here knows. Acg?

lori 9 years, 11 months ago

I'm disappointed there won't be a trained pig act in addition to the fire eaters. Anyone remember the dude who juggles flaming torches while on a unicycle? He comes through every once in a while; the kiddos always look forward to seeing him.Yea Downtown Lawrence! My family will be there, but if you can get the trained pig act, we'd be extra impressed.

flux 9 years, 11 months ago

DIG.........Im just glad Lawrence is trying new things.

Compy 9 years, 11 months ago

KU Athletics should have applied for a grant from the Lawrence Arts Comission to help pay for that parade. Sounds like they are jumping at the chance to spend government funds on projects which directly benefit downtown business. Oh, and local artists, too. Riiiiiiight.

Poon 9 years, 11 months ago

I nominate Toe at 8:30 PM for most honest post of the week. Couldn't have said it better myself.

been_there 9 years, 11 months ago

Wasn't there a fire-eating accident about 12 to 15 yrs ago downtown where the person was severely burned?

Richard Renner 9 years, 11 months ago

The word from the producers of this event is that most of the performers will be local to the area with a few invites from elsewhere. Each performer will be screened for professional ability and liability insurance. The event was chosen for Downtown during Hawk Week simply because of more people in town that weekend and to get the students out of Target and to come downtown to local merchants. More people =more tip money for the performers = happier performers = more street entertainment next year = better downtown rep = more people downtown = better business for local merchants

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 11 months ago

ChristmasCarol: Hi! I am really old!PapaB: I, too, am also very, very old.ChristmasCarol: I hate when people like things!PapaB: Me too! Liking things is stupid!ChristmasCarol: I tell people that all the time. "Hey! You! Over there! Do you like things? Then you're stupid!"PapaB: I say the exact same things! And also "Get off my lawn, you damn hippies!"ChristmasCarol: Good one! Now don't get me wrong--I don't actually like telling people they're stupid because they like things.PapaB: Of course not.ChristmasCarol: That would be stupid.PapaB: I agree.ChristmasCarol: So...wanna make out?PapaB: Sure. But I'm not going to like it.ChristmasCarol: Of course not.

seriouscat 9 years, 11 months ago

Kudos to Renner and whomever else is responsible for this idea. Downtown had a busker fest in my hometown and it was great inexpensive fun for the whole family and brought a lot of people to the retail district. Perfect for Lawrence. Can't wait!

scary_manilow 9 years, 11 months ago

I was there. He used butane instead of his usual fluid and burned his face, throat, and hands. It was terrifying!!!But we got him to the hospital in time-- there was some intense scarring, but he turned out just fine-- wife, kids, teaching school now. Better than most of us, I think.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

great, more pointless, petty and ignorant comments!!yippeee

Compy 9 years, 11 months ago

Enjoy the party, but remember all those far flung buskers will probably fly here in extremely pollutive airlines. Oh, but their out-of-town dollars are more than welcome. Wouldn't want to invest in anything local or sustainable would we...

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 11 months ago

"There are two rules in street performing: height and fire."That is awesome.

Gail Grant 9 years, 11 months ago

Why doesn't the city take adavnatage of the farmers market and like many other cities on the US, offer shows and food from the local resturants. So that it becomes all city, families event. (in many places they use the middle of the week afternoon farmers market). So there is a nice get-together of the community which the local businesses and talents can benefit. This can done maybe in south park...

favorablydisposed 9 years, 11 months ago

"We thought it was a good opportunity to get people downtown and show them what a unique place we have," Pennington said.What about saxaphone man, marraca chick, guy with socks on hand, honk for hemp guy, and the peace/waving man with a barret? Is that not unique enough for Lawrence? Seems a little fake to be pulling "talent" from all over the country to show how "unique" Lawrence is. Lawrence is unique because of Lawrence people, not some dude blowing fire, performing acts on a pig while on stilts.

Adrienne Sanders 9 years, 11 months ago

People like to be surprised? By people holding fire and popping out of alleys? Sounds good to me.

PapaB 9 years, 11 months ago

I would hang out downtown more, but it would mean getting different friends, different clothes, I'd have to wear sandals, and I'd have to grow a moustache.

akt2 9 years, 11 months ago

I think the students and their parents would rather shop at Target and Wal-Mart for back to school supplies and dorm furnishings. The students will be too busy during Hawk Week with other activities to give this one the time of day.

been_there 9 years, 11 months ago

scary_manilow glad to hear such a great update, my son was also there, it's something he will never forget.

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