Although busking, or street performing for tips, is an artform unlike any other, it is ubiquitous in cultural hubs around the world and dates back as far as the Middle Ages. From Aug. 2-4, Burlington’s 12th Festival of Fools will host over 100 performances on Church Street and other stages throughout downtown Burlington.
According to co-founder and artistic director, Woody Keppel of Charlotte, the event is the longest-running and best attended busking festival in the U.S., with crowds during last year’s festival numbering over 100,000.
“Over the years I’ve worn a number of festival hats: co-founder, producer, designer, director, performer and band leader,” said Keppel. “But the festival’s overall success is a result of teamwork, experience, community support and an enthusiastic public with an insatiable appetite for high-end family entertainment.”
This year’s Festival of Fools features jugglers, a unicyclist, musicians, daredevil acts and physical comedians.
Sara Twister, a highly-skilled contortionist and acrobatic archer, performs at the festival for the first time. From Berlin, Twister’s solo-act, “Ready, Aim, Fire,” has her contorting her body over backwards, then firing her arrow with pinpoint precision using only her feet.
“Having Sara shoot a target placed on top of your head is not for the faint-hearted,” said Keppel. “But during Sara’s big finale, there is always a volunteer from the audience who does just that.”
In addition to the acrobatics, also on the roster is the comedy/martial arts group, NANDA, from Port Townsend, Wash. Their show, “The Jacket,” blends slapstick, pop culture satire, ninja moves (known as “kung faux”), circus arts and a dancing robot to achieve a unique and engaging experience that truly appeals to all ages.
Zach Williamson, managing director of the festival, is originally from Charlotte. “He’s truly one of the hardest working men in show business, for whom I have great admiration,” Keppel said.
Alex Lalli, also of Charlotte, curates a number of musical acts throughout the weekend.