Yesterday I took the kids down to the Toronto Buskerfest . What worked for us last year as well as this, is to arrive just before it opens so we can get the lay of the land and avoid most of the crowds. I can’t imagine how busy it’d be on a Friday night or weekend because it felt very well visited yesterday afternoon. We situate ourselves near the kids area and the CTV/CP24 Stage giving us access to a big stage, the shaded kids area, and some bathrooms if we need them (note the business we choose to make use of their facilities does post a sign asking for patrons only — I have no clue where official washrooms are).
We saw the following acts
- Ernest the Magnifico (fb)
- Rob Torres – International Man of Mirth
- Daniel Forlano
- Dream State Circus (fb)
- The Checkerboard Guy (fb)
I had remembered some of the press from Ernest from last year so was looking forward to his show. It got off to a rough start due to technical difficulties (sound system wasn’t powered correctly and it took two technicians to get it going) but while we waited for him to start we got to watch an early preview of Dream State Circus as they performed for a noon-time TV news (which I think we probably we in shot for — anyone see us?), the stilt guys doing this hockey bit, and the creatures the kids really enjoyed were the Giant Seagull people! Ernest gave us lots of laughs (jump over a car on his pogo stick). A few bits weren’t kid friendly, but it wasn’t the kids area so that could be expected.
We headed into the kids area next for Rob Torres. He is a fantastic clown, who doesn’t speak at all during the performance (but does make noises), and he really fired up the imaginations of the crowd drawing us all into his world of play and fun. His show felt completely original and did not have some of the repetition some of the others have (perhaps because he doesn’t need banter which seems to get re-used a lot).
We stopped in at Fancy Pants Kids booth next for the kids to do some dress-up. Ms Meyer Odell remembered us which made the kids feel really welcome. We left the tent with temporary tattoos for the kids and a recommendation to see Wolfe & Petersen’s Pocket Carnival.
Daniel Forlano soon tried to start his act, even if some tv-show marketers had invaded his stage and seemed oblivious to him as the performer (one father who was taking pictures of his kids with the licensed characters even complained when “the man with the ladder” walked in front of his shot *sigh*). His laid back character performance was an interesting change from the usual exuberant buskers, and he tried his best to woo an audience member in his romantic comedy featuring juggling throw pillows, balancing on a ladder as well as standing on the top of a bottle.
We rushed over to catch the end of Dream State Circus’s show back in the kids area. As they were doing their acro-balance I felt at home putting one kid on each shoulder so they could see over the crowd. The kids weren’t too comfortable though so I was proud when they decided to squeeze through the people standing so they could get close enough to see for themselves. One of their balances was like the foot balance my son & I do, which pleased him to see. Their finale of her standing on his head while they both juggle fire clubs is pretty impressive, but I liked their pre-finale of her doing a handstand on his out-stretched arm the best.
This was later than I had planned to stay already, but my son caught sight of The Checkerboard Guy setting up and asked if we could stay and watch. I’m glad we did. The only Canadian performer we saw, he was extremely friendly and kept the show at a perfect level for the kids. Turns out he’s been performing for so long, that an audience member there with her kids remembered seeing him perform in her youth (I took a group photo of them all so got to over-ear the story).
Complaints about the kids area are similar to last years complaints. Too many smokers — the local business people come out of the neighbouring buildings and use the square as their butt-ground and seem oblivious to the fact that it’s filled with kids for the event (probably not as much an issue on the weekend). The candy giver awayers didn’t bother with any extra trash-bins so their single serving packaging blanketed the area with plastic. The square itself isn’t too flat due to the stone layout which gives some of the performers an extra challenge. Oh, and my usual complaint about the Buskerfest website (Flash ick) was alleviated a bit as I found an html version tucked away.
Afterwards we had a long walk up to Bloor from King St to surprise my wife as she finished her work-day. I enjoy it when the kids impress me with their fitness.