First-ever P.E.I. Busker Festival kicks off today at Peakes Wharf in Charlottetown
© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Co-ordinator Jeremy MacFadyen is excited about the first-ever P.E.I. Busker Festival which starts today at 4 p.m. at Peakes Wharf in Charlottetown. The family-friendly celebration features 10 different shows on two different stages.
Excitement is growing for the first-ever P.E.I. Busker Festival.
Featuring some of North America’s best street performers, the free family-friendly celebration will hit the boards today, Saturday and Sunday at Peakes Wharf in Charlottetown.
And the person who is feeling the excitement most is the festival co-ordinator.
“It’s going to be a blast. We’ve got eight different groups coming, performing 10 different shows on two different stages,” says Jeremy MacFadyen, adding the fun starts at 4 p.m.
At the top of his list is Kobbler Jay from Niagara Falls.
“He’s your classic busker. He juggles and eats fire. He walks on glass and makes people laugh. He’s the best busker I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen quite a few,” says MacFadyen, who has worked for Tourism Charlottetown and Conference and Events Management.
“Kobbler is also the artistic director for the festival,” he says.
Next is Fire Guy, a street performer from Toronto.
“As his name suggests, he has a burning desire to entertain. He is an expert in fire eating, fire juggling and fire breathing. As part of his performance he actually skateboards through a burning star. It’s a phenomenal show to see at night,” says MacFadyen.
Audience members will likely marvel at the creativity of performer Jonny Nickelkicker from Almonte, Ont., who combines standup comedy with circus training when he performs a Houdini-inspired trick — escaping from a straitjacket. Bystanders will also want to get their photo taken with the live Marie Antoinette statue in her elaborate court dress and powdered wig.
But, save some viewing energy for Trulee Odd, a Hamilton-based busker.
“From the time he makes his entrance on a tiny motorcycle to his heart-stopping finale — juggling three knives, blindfolded on a 14 foot unicycle — you won’t want to miss a second,” says MacFadyen.
The lineup also includes Victor Rubilar, an Argentinian performer who specializes in juggling up to five soccer balls at a time, Seb Whipits, a whip juggler from Niagara Falls, James Jordan, a carnival magician from Alberta, and Francois Pelletier, a Canadian street painter known for his realistic chalk drawings of The Madonna.
While the daytime performances are free, donation boxes will be set up near the stages for people to fill.
“When you go to a movie you pay for it. So, when you see a live show, you should leave something to show your appreciation,” says MacFadyen, who was inspired to organize the festival after meeting Cobbler Jay, also known as Jason Henderson.
“When I worked for Tourism Charlottetown, I hired Jay to perform at the Jack Frost Festival. We’ve grown a friendship over the years, and it has ended up with us teaming up to do the busker festival.”
Currently travelling and unreachable by phone, this is what MacFadyen has to say about Henderson.
“Jay always said P.E.I. was the best place to do a busker festival in Canada. And he wanted to make it a reality.
“So, when he was down to visit last Canada Day, he said, ‘Jeremy, you’ve got to do it.’ So he hounded me for four months until September when I said, ‘OK, I’ll do the busker festival next year, so let’s work on it now.’ So now it’s next year,” says MacFadyen, with a laugh.
The atmosphere changes when the show goes inside on Friday and Saturday night with a Busk After Dusk show at The Guild in Charlottetown. There’s an admission charge for the 19-plus event, which runs from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
“During the day, it’s a family friendly show. But, our Busk After Dusk is adults only. It’s a time when you can come out, have a few beers and enjoy this informal variety show with the buskers. It’s going to be just hilarious,” says MacFadyen, adding The Monsters of Schlock will emcee it.
Described as the “most extreme sideshow that you’ll ever see,” this group currently holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most mousetraps closed on the tongue in 60 seconds.
“No strangers to P.E.I. the Monsters previously performed at Hunter’s Alehouse. It’s going to be a great show. It’s off the cuff, no script, filled with surprises,” says MacFadyen, who hopes the festival will be back next year.
“It all depends on how successful this one is.”
Sally Cole is a features writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.