First ever Sackville Busker Festival kicks off tonight for an event-filled weekend

A woman sitting on a bench on a downtown street with large flower pot and parking spaces visible behind her.
Wendy Epworth, vice-president of the downtown Sackville Business Improvement Area, which is the driving force behind the Sackville Busker Festival. Photo: Erica Butler.
CHMA  - CHMA - SackvilleNB | 11-08-2022
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It’s an action-packed weekend coming up in Sackville.

The Live Bait New Works Festival launched Wednesday and runs until August 15, with plays, readings, a book launch, and a concert in collaboration with the newly revived Tantramar Blues Society. The Tantramar Heritage Trust and the Town of Sackville have put together a roster of activities to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Yorkshire Settlers in the region, promising to “explore the impacts, both good and bad” of the settlement. And to top it all off, there will be extra activity downtown as the first Sackville Busker Festival takes over Bridge Street between Main and Lorne, with performances starting Thursday evening and happening throughout the weekend.

Wendy Epworth is owner of Mel’s Tea Room and vice president of the downtown Sackville Business Improvement Area (BIA), which is spearheading the festival with some help from ACOA’s Rediscover Main Streets initiative. CHMA sat down with Epworth on Wednesday to hear more about the Buskers Festival and how it came to be.

Epworth says when word of funding for new events and festivals to help re-animate downtowns came down the line, she thought immediately of the Halifax International Buskers Festival. “It’s a great, longstanding festival, and I’ve enjoyed it,” says Epworth. So she reached out to see if something of a smaller scale could work in Sackville. “They sent me information about what a little festival would look like here,” says Epworth, and she put together a proposal for ACOA in the spring. Then late last month, the approval came down, and Epworth has been srambling since to make the first ever Sackville Busker Festival a reality.

“It’s been a bit crazy,” admits Epworth, but performers arrived on Wednesday and a performance schedule will kick off Thursday evening on Bridge Street.

There’s five different buskers booked to perform throughout the weekend, including:

  • Hula Hoop Queen Lisa Lottie
  • Magician Extraordinaire Michael James
  • Rock n’ Roll Circus Performer Steve Goodtime
  • Mystery Entertainer Lukas Stark, and
  • King of Living Statues Silver Elvis

“We’re really excited to work with with Premiere Entertainment Group,” says Epworth. “We’re getting some world class, internationally-known performers, so it should it should be some exciting days.”

The Buskers Fest is also partnering with the town and Mount Allison to expand what’s on offer. “Because the street is going to be closed for the whole time, the town has worked to bring some other events and concerts for the mornings of Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” says Epworth. Kids’ entertainers Razzmatazz will perform Friday morning, and on Saturday students in the MASSIE program at Mount Allison will host a mini Japanese Summer Festival. Then on Sunday morning, a local Latin band, Latinacion, will perform.

“We also are bringing in vendors, similar to some of the vendors that you might have seen for the moonlight madness events,” says Epworth. “It’s going to be a lot of fun… There’s going to be lots of different activities.”

Epworth says organizers considered a tent for the festival, but are now counting on weather forecasts staying clear and not too hot. They are also counting on spectators embracing the busking tradition of passing the hat at the end of performances.

Though the festival is centrally organized, says Epworth, “the tips that performers get at the end of their performances are how they make their living.” She’s hoping that anyone new to busking won’t be offended at the passing of the hat. “It’s important that these guys are compensated or well paid for their talents, because they do amazing things.”

Though this is the first year and the festival has come together on a short timeline, Epworth is hopeful that it might be a recurring event. “We’ll be watching for how well it is received, and things that could be improved in a subsequent event,” says Epworth. “Depending on how it goes I think it would be a great thing to happen every year in Sackville.”

For the most up to date information on the Sackville Busker Festival, check their Facebook page.