Dundas International Buskerfest
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
The Beautiful Valley Town…
Here we were driving south on Hwy #400 on a very hot Sunday morning! We had just left Bracebridge were we had attended a surprise 65th birthday for my friend and sometimes fellow Festival Nomad, Ross Cannata. We had had a great time, but it was now time to get back to work! We were headed for the “beautiful valley town” of Dundas. Internationally renowned artist Eddie LePage (Click HERE to read Blog article) was born and raised in Dundas. He even delivered mail to Dundas residents before becoming a professional working artist. This picturesque town with historic downtown buildings is located near Hamilton and is “tucked between the two faces of the Niagara Escarpment”. Dundas was hosting its annual Dundas International Buskerfest and we were anxious to get there. From Hwy #400 we took the quickest and easiest route we could find, Hwy 401 to Hwy 403 to Hwy 407 and back onto Hwy 403 into Hamilton. From there it got a little trickier! The signs pointing to Dundas are not all that clear! I had to use my Festival Nomad instincts to get there! After a few wrong turns, we arrived in downtown Dundas and found the festival in full swing. Fortunately finding a convenient parking spot was no problem and we were on our way to “buskermania”!
Judi and I walked down the steep hill to downtown Dundas’s main intersection. The portion of the street to our right was closed and barricaded. The Buskerfest was in full swing! After we had turned right onto the festival grounds. The long street ahead of us was crowded with people. Dundas’s historic 19th century buildings framed the festival scene! Vendor tents and booths were set up on either side of the street, offering visitors a variety of merchandise to admire and perhaps purchase. In the middle of the street, at various stops along the way, were the hard working Buskers! Wherever a Busker performed, large crowds of people gathered. A little way up the street, the Festival committee had set up its Information booth, where we picked up a festival guide. As we walked up the first part of the street, there were automobiles on show and for sale. Near the automobiles there was an open aired restaurant. Further along a portrait artist was working on a sketch of a little boy. Across the street the Hamilton Spectator had a booth and their event cruiser. All of these and more added to the mood of the Dundas International Buskerfest! Not too far up the street we came to our first Busker, Jonathan Burns. While we were watching, Jonathan juggled knives and a flaming torch. Later he was able to contort his body through a tennis racket! Jonathan performance and humorous antics were truly appreciated by the on looking crowed. After Jonathan’s performance we once again moved up the festival street. More booths lined the street. Naturally Judi was able to find the jewelry booth while I discovered several food vendors (priorities, priorities!!). The second street performer we came to was Tim Holland, Puppet Tamer and ventriloquist extraordinaire! Tim and his “Talking Bird” performed comedy and juggling with equal skill! He had the crowd “rolling” in the aisles (streets). I think the word “Tamer” should be taken out of his title, because the “Talking Bird” didn’t seem to be Tamed! Everyone had a lot of fun with the irreverent bird!
Buskers On The Main Street…
The street was full of people enjoying the different Busker performances. There was a man on stilts walking head and shoulders above the crowd. A clown was dancing to children’s laughter. As we continued along the street, we explored several more vendor tents. Judi headed towards a booth displaying purses, umbrellas and more, while I watched a portrait artist sketching the images of three giggling tweens. Moving further we passed pony rides then came to street performer, Magic Brian. Magic Brian was performing his magic to a young girl the he had chosen from the audience. His comedic patter entertained everyone watching! From Brian we continued on our way down the street. The Aerial Angels were a short distance away. The three women who made up the “Angels” were very versatile. When we arrived they were “fire eating”, all three of them! Once they had finished “playing with fire”, they started their “death defying” aerial act! Silk ribbons of clothe had been attached to a tripod that towered high above the ground. Each performer, in turn, climbed the ribbons and then twisted and turned with breathtaking style and grace. The crowd loved these multi-faceted performers! We completed our tour of the festival street and then turned back to retrace our steps. Along the way we noticed a “Body Art” booth, another balloon artist and a “Face Painting” booth. Part way back, the USA Break Dancers had drawn a crowd. We had seen them perform at last year’s Kingston Busker Rendezvous. We were amazed at their routine in Kingston and their performance in Dundas was still full of energy and awe inspiring moves! A short distance from the Break dancers was Trulee Odd. When we arrived four strong (?) men were holding up a towering unicycle. Trulee Odd was about to climb on them to get to the seat. After stepping on a few heads and shoulders, he made it. Once they let go, a girl from the audience threw three knives to him. He then juggled these while balancing on the unicycle! The “Trulee Odd Show” was great! Our final street performer was Mama Lou: American Strong Woman. She had chosen some unfortunate male from the audience to join her performance. She told everyone that she could pick this man up! Rather than physically picking him up, she started using “corny” pick-up lines like, “what’s your phone number”. Once the man had given it to her (who could refuse a "strong" beautiful woman!), she told everyone she had just picked him up! The crowd laughed good naturedly at the joke and the man’s embarrassment!
It was now the height of the afternoon sun. Judi and I were hot and tired and ready to leave the Dundas International Buskerfest and head for home!