Lawrence Busker Festival To Get Bigger, Weirder This Year

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Lawrence Busker Festival To Get Bigger, Weirder This Year

The Lawrence Busker Festival is planning another year of unmistakable talent after a historic all-female festival in 2019. The festival has grown from a small local event to one that is recognized worldwide as the best street performer festival in America.

This year the Lawrence Busker Festival will include Memorial Day. The festival will start at 5 pm on Friday, May 22nd and end on Monday, May 25th at 6 pm. Having the festival last an extra day gives patrons more time to see all the acts and take in more of historic downtown Lawrence.

"I came downtown last year on Monday after the festival and found crowds of people, many looking for the festival," said Richard Renner, the producer and founder of the festival. "So, I thought, why not give them what they want?"

Free State Brewing and Standard Beverage will be the presenting sponsor for this year's event. Free State Brewing was instrumental in getting the microbrewery laws changed in Kansas and has been an advocate for tourism in the state. As a presenting sponsor, the local brewery has ensured that the festival will continue after it did not qualify for the city's Transient Guest Tax grant this year.

"With Free State and Standard supporting us, we can continue to make the Busker Festival free," Renner said.

Festival-goers can expect to see returning acts plus selected new ones. The festival will include performers from Australia, England, and Canada. These new acts include:

Mat Ricardo, Gentlemen Juggler, is an international man of intrigue. His dapper attire and precision skills make his street act of magic and object manipulation unique. This British gentleman comes to Lawrence for the first time after extensive touring in Europe and a recent appearance on America's Got Talent.

Reuben Dotdotdot has been all around the world with his balancing act. Reuben comes from Australia and is an alumnus of Cirque du Soleil's Saltimbanco show. Between his time with Cirque du Soleil and his own show, he's performed in more than 20 different countries and has gathered a large group of awards along the way. This year will be one of the few times he has made it to America.

Lee Zimmerman is a master street puppeteer from Los Angeles with more than 30 years of experience entertaining audiences worldwide. He has been a regular at The Improv, Laugh Factory, and The Magic Castle since 1991. His rock-and-roll marionette revue was an installation at Universal Studios in Hollywood for more than nine years. Zimmerman has made appearances on Drew Carey and Seinfeld plus other films and sitcoms. Don't miss his musical marionettes at his pitch on Massachusetts Street.

John Park, the Comedy Waiter, will show off his superior service and amazing tricks. Expect to see plate spinning, marshmallow manipulations, and water tricks. He comes from Canada and has presented his oddly unique food-based show to audiences in China, Europe, and New Zealand.

Returning to the festival are some of the favorites from last year's all-female festival:

Sharon Mahoney, the Canadian Comedienne, is an international comic, actress, and award-winning street performer. Her performance highlights the amusing nature of all things Canadian. Her "stand up for the street" style is one of the most unique in the busker business.

Sarah Kunz, The Flyin Hawaiin, is an internationally renowned street performer. She can twirl multiple hula hoops on her arms and legs simultaneously while balancing atop a 6-foot-high "coconut tree." She has taken her show to the street-festival circuit in Europe and other worldwide destinations since 2013. Her entertaining act combines contortion, acrobatics, juggling, comedy, gymnastics, and hula-hooping.

Mama Lou Strong Woman bends stereotypes and breaks molds. She rips phone books, smashes boards, pounds nails with her fists, and lifts weights with her tongue. As a worldwide sensation, Mama Lou is an inspiration to women and girls everywhere, proving girls can do anything boys can do, and maybe even better. She is the current world record holder for smashing apples in her biceps and has performed that on the Guinness World Record TV show in America and Italy. Mama Lou is a perennial favorite at the Lawrence Busker Festival and will be returning for her 10th year.

Four years ago, the Busker Festival and the Art Tougeau Parade partnered up in a marriage that continues this year. This "art car" parade includes autos dressed up with dental devices, pop bottle tops, chalk paint, and other whimsical designs. The cars will be on display during the evening of Friday, May 22nd. The parade is at noon on Saturday, May 23rd.

The Lawrence Busker Festival is a whole weekend of weirdness that locals and tourists look forward to each year. The festival has grown in popularity over the past 12 years, and people from all over the country visit to experience the unmistakably different culture of Lawrence, Kansas. More information is available at Lawrencebuskerfest.com and by calling 785-330-5110 or writing to info@lawrencebuskerfest.com.



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