Being in Kingston for the Busker’s Festival was pure luck. What a wonderful opportunity to see some excellent talent. For many buskers performing is their sole source of income which means they want to draw, keep, and please the crowd. Planning was very good with performances spread over three staging areas. Confederation Park in the morning and mid-afternoon, and street performances that called for the. Losers two blocks of the Main Street. I think this was an excellent idea as it drew people to the downtown core where audiences could follow performers and then eat or shop locally. A winning combination.
I did not appreciate the first performance, perhaps because he focussed on children – which is great if the act is any good. Fortunately every other show was fantastic. Fortunately I had decided to get into the act and had a henna done of a sunflower and dragonflies. By the time I was done the second act came on.These individuals, duos and groups work exceptionally hard. They bring humour, daring, magic, dance, feats of strength and daring. Many in one show! All outdoors, in the heat. Their professionalism while performing on the hard cement, in sun and rain, made me appreciate just how dedicated they have to be to their art.
My favourite was DynaMike, http://www.dynamikelovesyou.com,I saw him perform probably four times over the course of the festival. A one man show with mix of comedy, danger and audience participation – he drew in the crowd with his easy banter and quick eye to include moments that others might have missed. One was on the closed down street where there are apartments on the upper floors of shops. Great view for anyone looking down, apparently unsuspected by onlookers – but not by the performer. He was quick to include this sole anonymous spectator from above into his show, inviting all of us below to wave. When a wave back finally came we all enthusiastically applauded. I expect it is moments like these that make the show special for the performer.
Duo-Looky, (no idea why the name) from Israel, was my next (perhaps tied – the acts are so different) favourite and I saw one full performance and much of two others. Once again, the ability to move from venue to venue was excellent. Still on concrete. If anyone has beaten the sidewalks for hours on end exploring a city try doing it on pointe! This ballerina has skills. She and her partner could probably do less of the audience participation and still keep everyone enthralled. The wine bottle performance took my breath away, and I saw it thrice.
As the heat and humidity increased I needed an escape, what better place but at St. George’s Cathedral for a little lunch sax. The Saxobelles, an all female group, provided the 200+ audience with some pretty cool licks. A little Gershwin, Leonard Cohen, Beethoven and more made for a relaxing, cool respite.
As if I had not already done enough for the day I met up with my eldest daughter for an afternoon movie,Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This one was pretty good. Time for Johnny Depp to pack up the make up box on a bit of a high note.
Then Score Pizza (free from winning hockey pucks at the Market) for dinner at my other D’s house and crash on the sofa. I had to drag my body from the chair where I was dozing.
The next two days I revisited the Festival, not once disappointed, even when caught in the rain. Alas, no piña coladas. I just headed to Sipps, my other go to cafe. It seemed many others had similar plans, I ended up joining four Kingstonians, and hope I did not talk their ears off about my adventures. They all love Victoria, travel a lot, came up with the consensus that, after hearing I stay at hostels, that their idea of a hostel is a B&B without a private ensuite. They provided me the name of a travel agency (I think I managed to make a note of it) for Cuba – one place I would love to visit. They were also gracious enough to have a photo taken with my travel companions. Once the rain clouds had parted it was time to venture out again. Extremely high humidity hit me hard, barely out the door and I was dripping. I am not looking forward to the same in the sub-tropic of Vietnam and China.
By the 4th day of the festival I was beginning to think I must have been a performer rather than an audience member. I somehow managed to fit in another full day – with family – buskers, pedicure (that should have meant more relaxation, not less) and a Ghost and Mystery Trolley Tour. The latter was interesting, made me want to learn more about some of the places we heard about. The Rockwood Lunatic Asylum in particular. In use from 1878 – 1905, built with Kingston Pen convict labour, the asylum was considered a part of the penitentiary when it first housed ‘criminally insane’ patients starting in 1862. Although difficult to believe these days considering 10% of patients were constrained, and the remaining confined to the asylum, the building’s view overlooking Lake Ontario was claimed to have a calming effect on patients. Perhaps the fresh lake air and soft lapping of waves were peaceful and lulling. For some excellent photos of the inside, taken over three years 2011 – 2014, check out jermalism.blogspot.com, Abandonment Issues: Rockwood Insane Asylum. From what the tour guide told my group, and looking at the structure, it is most likely impossible to easily gain access. Entering such a facility would be more difficult for me than a decommissioned prison. (Which I would finally do two days before leaving Kingston)
Note: Upon writing I felt I had not given enough to show my appreciation for the performances; however, I am in the habit of budgeting a specific amount for each day which generally means I tend to not have a lot of extra coin or bills with me. In Canada we have $1 and $2 coins. I suggest if going to a similar festival take low denominations and show your appreciation by paying
The numbers: (spread over the days of the Busker Festival) 20.00 buskers; 10.40 breakfast. This may explain my dwindling funds! Eating out in Canada is expensive; 10.00 Henna 3.50 lunch (pkg tuna w crackers, apple sauce); 2.50 coffee; 5.00 Buskers; 15.00 Movie; 6.60 Coffee and danish (yikes, need to stop having coffee at Crave, that was my second chocolate croissant in a week!)2.00 Sipps Cafe (better than standing in a downpour); 15.00? Fresh produce at Springer Square Market; 2.00 lunch (dollar store tuna & crackers again) Steps: 12,000; 13,000; 9,000; 20,000