Busker fest sings success

First-ever Victoria Internation Buskers Festival expected to be bigger next year

Contortionist Jonathan Burns shows his flexibility with a tennis racket at the Victoria International Buskers Festival.

Contortionist Jonathan Burns shows his flexibility with a tennis racket at the Victoria International Buskers Festival.

Victoria has what it takes to host a buskers festival of international caliber.

That’s the feedback from globe-trotting performers participating in the 10-day inaugural Victoria International Buskers Festival. On Sunday, the final night, they surprised festival organizer John Vickers by putting on an all-star show on the lawn of the Fairmont Empress, and donating proceeds to the festival society.

“It was really nice,” said Vickers. With an estimated 2,000 people viewing, there wasn’t a patch of grass left to sit, he said. “It’s great to see the buzz in the community.”

Already, Vickers has received two applications to perform during the 2012 festival.

Next year’s festival promises even more because it will be eligible for many grants not available to first-year festivals. For Vickers that means the long and poorly paid hours will come to an end.

“To go through what I went through over the last 12 months … I wouldn’t do it again,” he said. The investment, he said, was all about the second-year event.

While Vickers had the help of two-co-op students and 200 volunteers, he anticipates having some staff starting this December.

“I’ve learned a lot of lessons about the waterfront,” he said.

For instance, the public washrooms closed at 9 p.m., leaving few portable washrooms to serve thousands until 10 p.m.

“I don’t understand why they wouldn’t keep the washrooms open for that last hour,” said Vickers.

While the stage set up on Langley Street was deemed a success, he’ll try again for support to close Government Street for some or all of the festival next year.