2 Days, 2 Streets, 2 Much Fun!
Occasionally it’s hard to tell who is officially part of the Bay & Algoma Buskers Festival. The carnival-like atmosphere at this weekend event held annually in late July in the Bay and Algoma Neighbourhood has become one that you won’t want to miss if planning a summer visit to Thunder Bay. So this year, mark your calendar for the Buskers Festival Saturday July 28 and Sunday July 29.
The streets - Bay and Algoma are blocked off for a mix of activities. There will be multiple stages setup where buskers and entertainers rotate through putting on impromptu performances.
There are always surprise shows that are not part of the program, so the result is that sections of the streets look like flash mobs. It is the unexpected that kept people coming back for what will be the fifth year for this unique festival.
In come cases you can't tell the difference between the people performing and those attending as young people unicycle through the crowds, while others dress in costume for no other reason than for an opportunity to do so.
People mix and interact with the actual performers to juggle with the juggler, hoola with the Hoola dancer and swing balls in socks or twirl the ribbons with the professional poi artist. It is all part of the fun.
There are kids whose faces are painted to look like cats or dogs or Spiderman as they run about freely in the street, or bounce around the air castle beaming with delight. They’ll get in with the chalk artists, sketch out cartoons on the road then plead for an ice cream from one of the many food trucks, which also offer food for the adults.
Young and old alike are impressed by the agility of the Larpers – live action role players – who really get into battle. And of course there are the wonderful costumed belly dancers from the local dance school with their infectious smiles. And bellies.
There are tents where local artists sell their wares and these tents can get blown around a bit, but the artists persevere, duck into the Scandeli House to get some Swedish chocolate or partake with the public to chomp down on poutine, burgers, Indian cuisine like sabzi, chole, samosas, or many other delights offered in the shops and tents on the street.
Local shops along Bay St. and Algoma St. set up with sale displays on the sidewalks, and bakeries and coffee shops produce more cinnamon buns and cupcakes for the event. All in this area of the city that is really the best place to access local art and crafts at a number of venues throught out the year.
Local art groups also set up booths where great little pieces of art can be purchased at reasonable prices.