Crowds gather for annual spectacle

Buskers Festival puts Kingston’s best street performers in the spotlight

A street performer juggles flames for the crowd at Kingston’s Buskerfest.
A street performer juggles flames for the crowd at Kingston’s Buskerfest.
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From magic to music to fire shows and everything in between, Kingston Buskers Festival is an annual event that showcases the talents of individuals and groups from all over the world. This popular event that took place from July 10-13 in downtown Kingston garners the attention of thousands of people in and outside of Kingston each year — and this year it didn’t disappoint.

As far as excitement goes, the buskers that performed at this year’s festival went above and beyond. Acts such as The USA Break Dancers kept the crowd on their feet as they danced and performed acrobatic stunts.

Flame OZ garnered some of the largest crowds as they wowed with their pyrotechnic routines, and managed to win the “popular choice” award at the end of the weekend.

The Four Roads and Sasquatch & the Jackalope are two separate bands who met at the festival in 2012. Jonas Lewis-Anthony, Alex Ryan and newest member Ryan Monahan of The Four Roads, along with Ryan Carroll and Robert Burdick of Sasquatch & the Jackalope have come together from all over the world to play at the festival ever since they first met. Their folk-rock sound offered something unique to a festival that consisted largely of circus acts.

When asked about their choice to perform three years in a row in Kingston Buskers Festival, Alex Ryan expressed his appreciation of the festival’s overall vibe.

“We realized how much the festival adds to the city,” Ryan said. “Things like the incredible buzzing atmosphere. We have met so many amazing people, and we aren’t just learning about the profession and trading stories. We’re making friends.” Such is the magic of Kingston Buskers Festival. The shared experience between performers and their audience, and amongst the performers themselves, is unmatched by any other event that takes place in Kingston.

While the individual acts were the focus of the festival, the atmosphere of unity amongst the buskers was palpable. They were not just there to perform for others, but to learn from other performers as well.

“Coming back in 2013, we started to notice the sheer skill of the other buskers like the full-time guys and the circus guys doing the circle show,” Ryan said. “The past couple of years we’ve worked on learning from them to improve our show, which is another good thing about the busker’s festival — you meet so many amazing people.”

Their commitment to returning led to new opportunities for the band, and they now tour around Canada in addition to performing at the festival each summer.

The Kingston Buskers Festival highlights the importance of busking for these performers. Not only does it promote the specific performers, but it’s a reminder that the art that they produce is important and worthy of notice — and not just during events such as this.

The incredible talent, high levels of energy and interactive performances made for the perfect weekend. As far as summer events in Kingston go, the annual Kingston Buskers Festival is one that shouldn’t be missed.

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