Archive for Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting their acts together: Fundraiser kicks off Busker Fest

Richard Renner talks about his brainchild, the Lawrence Busker Festival. Performers from all across the country will gather in Lawrence this weekend for the annual Busker Festival. Thursday night a select few put on a benefit show at Abe and Jake's as a way to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County.

August 19, 2011


Amid the twirling and the juggling, the singing and the sword swallowing, Lawrence residents gathered Thursday evening to help kick off the annual Busker Festival.

The first-ever Preview Show for the weekend of performing arts took place under the lights at Abe and Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St. The event, proceeds from which benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County, showcased some of the best buskers, or street performers, the festival has to offer.

Richard Renner, who started the downtown extravaganza four years ago, said the idea came to him from personal experiences.

“I’ve been a street performer myself,” he said. “I recognized that downtown Lawrence had a great possibility for that.”

For several hours Thursday, performers — mostly from outside the state — drew applause and jeers from the few dozen in attendance. Buskers performed acrobatics, magic tricks and a few dangerous acts all to entertain and engage the crowd. Mike Rundle, who’s housing a busker for the weekend, said he was looking forward to what the weekend might hold and acknowledged the draw of Thursday’s event.

“It’s just a really cool way to get your appetite ready,” he said following the show.

Starting this evening, performers will take to Massachusetts Street with their various skills and props, complete with hats meant for tips. For Renner, it means more than six months of planning finally comes to an end.

“I just sit back and watch people enjoy it,” Renner said. “It’s usually at that point I know I’m going to do it again.”

The Busker Festival will last through the weekend, starting today and finishing Sunday evening. This year’s performers will eat fire, show off feats of strength and magic, practice tricky escapes and do it all with a downtown backdrop and various musical acts. Renner said that with the festival now benefitting an area agency, it’s got something for everyone.

“We wanted to make it more of a community event than just a downtown event,” he said. “I’m really proud of the people we have here.”


borntoplay 6 years, 10 months ago

I wish the event well, but I am just interested in why this event is getting SO MUCH publicity in the paper and especially the on-line edition? EMU Theater had a festival of 10 minute plays the past two week-ends and LCT presented a special Civil War play written by a local author last week-end to commemorate the anniversary. Where was the constant promotion for either of those? Nothing against BBBS or the Busker Festival, but who do you have to know at the LJW to get some . . . er. . . ANY attention? As the newspaper of the City of the Arts . . . .

bolshavik_vw 6 years, 10 months ago

The Busker Fest is a lot of fun, we go every year. I usually sit on the street corner or in front of a building and drum. It is unique and it is what we need, to prove we are not like the rest of this Squareminded state. I love the Art, and Culture, this has to offer. I am an artist and a free spirit. I think if people can come out of their shell, or box for several days and see a different side, maybe they can put their stereotypes away, let their hair down, and live for the moment. Enjoy life and quit being a stiff.

Reuben Turner 6 years, 10 months ago


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