May 26, 2021

Busker Fest ushers in a summer of street performers on Main Street and in local neighborhoods

Trained performer Madzon CanCan specializes in colorful characters and unusual locations for her insightful humor. Photo by Michael Evans
Trained performer Madzon CanCan specializes in colorful characters and unusual locations for her insightful humor. Photo by Michael Evans|||| Trained performer Madzon CanCan specializes in colorful characters and unusual locations for her insightful humor. Photo by Michael Evans|||| ||||
By Michael Evans

As the city is re-opening after a long period of relative inactivity due to pandemic restrictions, family-friendly puppeteers, magicians, musicians, comedic fortune tellers, and hoop artists – about 60 in all – are scheduled to bring their unique, open-air theatrics to downtown Salt Lake City this weekend during the Third Annual Busker Fest.

The word “busker” is a British term meaning “seeker,” and refers to a time-honored tradition of street performers seeking tips for their work, which they will do all weekend.

During the Busker Fest, Main Street will be closed to motorized traffic from South Temple to 400 South on May 27, 28, and 29 after 6 p.m. The festival kicks-off the Downtown Alliance Open Streets Initiative during which Main Street will be closed to cars and transformed into a pedestrian promenade each Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon - close this summer. Area restaurants, bars and shops will extend their service onto the sidewalks. 

“Our city buskers are an incredibly important element of placemaking that make our downtown a more vibrant, safe, and creative place to visit while drawing visibility to our local businesses,” said Felicia Baca, Director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council.

Busker Fest organizer Kim Angeli said that there will be shifts of 11 performers at any one time this weekend. “We have about 55 local acts scheduled, and our invited guests are some of the best in the world.”

Guest performers will take the stage every hour after 6 p.m. at three different locations called “pitches,” (another British term for stage): the Gallivan Center’s Main Street entrance, Gallivan Avenue inside the block, and Exchange Place.

Here are some of the guest artists that festivalgoers may see: Funny man Marcus, beautiful stuntwoman Martika, Leapin’ Louie, and Cate Great from Boston, who earns her name with stunt work and comedic, circus skills. Nationally renowned mime artist and dancer, Beth Byrd-Lonski, is not only doing classic street routines, but also teaching separate workshops at the Utah Art Alliance’s Hub. International phenomenon Sam Malcolm is known for “jaw-dropping juggling” at different heights above his laughing audiences.

Other excellent local attractions include ariel acrobatics coordinated by “Leggy Meggie” Hines of S.L.U.G. Magazine every hour on the hour at the Main Street Pitch, Friday and Saturdays. Irrepressible Madzon CanCan’s hilarious improvisations on Fortune Telling can be seen in the area during all three days. Free-roaming performers will be working both sides of Main Street. Expect the unexpected!

Although Salt Lake City’s Busker Fest is free to watch, visitors are encouraged to donate to any acts that entertain them. Local performers rely on tips. Buskers will accept dollar bills and coins, although Venmo is used among many nowadays. The information booth near the Main Street Pitch has a “change booth” for paper money and an ATM.

Busker Fest is in TRAX’s Free Fare Zone, and the City Creek Mall allows shoppers two hours of free parking for interested short-term spectators.

Busker Fest will also take place at Monument Plaza in Sugarhouse on June 3, and along the Jordan River Parkway Trail in the International Peace Gardens in Jordan Park on Thursday June 17, both starting at 6 p.m. “We are taking this entertainment right to the places where people live,” said Angeli.

For more info, visit https://www.buskerfestslc.com

Published in Spring 2021