Buskers: all fun and games

Two ferris wheels, face painting stations, acrobats, candy floss, kettle corn, funnel cakes and bottle toss games had Uptown Waterloo packed full of people this past weekend for the 23rd annual Buskers Carnival.

The carnival originally started as a way to entice more people to visit Uptown Waterloo for some fun and to explore more of the city. But as popularity grew, so did the need to continue the tradition.

“I don’t come every year but I do come often,” said Don Lawrence, who came to the carnival Friday night with his daughter.

“It’s awesome, I love it. The mime was incredible; he started slow and built it into a fantastic show.”

King Street was full, not only with visitors but with chalk artists creating incredible masterpieces while spectators looked on, vendors selling bags and jewellery, an obstacle course, temporary tattoo artists, mini golf and of course, the tantalizing smells of fresh cut fries mingling with candy apples and an array of other festival foods.

“I love the carnival,” said first year Wilfrid Laurier University student, Kyle Brake, as he waited in line at Starbucks for the washroom.

“The only problem is I haven’t seen any port-a-potties so everyone’s waiting in this line, which is taking forever. So I haven’t seen much yet.”

The Buskers Carnival was all weekend long and with so much to do, it’s almost daunting to see it all in one night. Performances seemed to start every fifteen minutes or so and there was definitely something for everyone.

Two performing partners demonstrated feats of strength and dance as they tossed one another in the air in the middle of the street and lifted each other with one arm in time with the music.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 15,” Vincent Dubé said, as his partner hit a reporter over the head with a rubber hammer. “So about 17 years. We’ve travelled all over the world; Asia, Europe and we always get very responsive audiences.”

And the crowds did seem to love every aspect of this past weekend’s show. Whether you were watching Jason, the escape artist from New York, get himself out of a straight jacket in the vein of Harry Houdini, or the man with a shark on his head attack unsuspecting audience members, laughter and entertainment abounded.

“Here’s the baseline for applause,” Daniel Craig, an acrobat and fire eater from Winnipeg, Manitoba, said.

“If you see us doing something you yourself cannot do? You clap.” Then he and his partner continued to perform an amazing routine involving over 100 different tricks with fire, hoops and mind-blowing flexibility. Raucous applause followed each one.

The evening was a huge success, with performances going late into the night and, according to the city, 50,000 guests attending.

“We’re not paid like a festival to be here,” Dubé shouted to the audience as his partner spit out water in shock and proceeded to burst into dramatic tears.

“So we’d very much appreciate your donations to show us your appreciation for our hard work.” He held up a bag and pointed into it.

“The exit is here,” Dubé said. “Thank you very much, and merci beaucoup!”

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