Don’t be alarmed when you come across fire-eating, sword-swallowing and phonebook-ripping folks this weekend in downtown Lawrence.
Feel free to tip them instead.
Dozens of street performers will take to the sidewalks and stage Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the central business district for the Lawrence Busker Festival, a second annual showing of scheduled improvisational entertainment.
The fest will feature area and traveling buskers — a.k.a. street performers — with acts intended to entertain, educate and, yes, generate a little revenue to get back home.
“They rely on tips to make the weekend worthwhile,” said Ric Averill, who’s helping Richard Renner organize the fest and will serve as emcee for busker performances near Ninth and Massachusetts streets. “That’s what they live on. That’s their fee. They just rely on the kindness of strangers.”
More than 20 groups and individuals are scheduled to participate, while others who show up unannounced will be welcome to join in the aerial dancing, juggling, puppetry, music, magic, mime and other skills on display.
Scheduled performances start at 6 p.m. Friday on the “US Bank Stage,” at the southeast corner of Ninth and Massachusetts. Several other downtown sites will accommodate performers, including the “Lawrence Public Library Family Stage” and the front of the Lawrence Arts Center.
Spectators shouldn’t feel pressured into offering tips, Averill said. Just show up, suspend your disbelief and enjoy the odd, interesting and always-entertaining displays of creativity.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Averill said. “It’s the wildest, craziest things ever.”
The arts center also will offer free, 30-minute workshops for children interested in music, storytelling, juggling and mime. Workshops are set for 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Saturday, but space is limited. For more information or to register, call 843-2787.