The people have spoken.
They did it in that speech-free way that trendy people have of speaking with one voice these days – they took to social media sites and said they wanted their Buskerfest back.
And so the Downtown Improvement District, in its best Capt. Picard manner, decreed: “Make it so.”
Buskerfest returns on Saturday.
It happens from 4 to 11 p.m. on Wayne and Calhoun streets near One Summit Square.
Last year, Buskerfest was folded into Taste of the Arts as a strategy for scaling down the first and fortifying the second.
That mini Buskerfest, known as Busker Square, will still be a feature of Taste of the Arts when it returns to East Main Street on Aug. 25, according to Tena Woenker, the Downtown Improvement District’s marketing and events director.
But the original Buskerfest is back for good, she says.
A busker is a person who performs on streets and sidewalks for money. A busker doesn’t beg – he or she shares his talents with passers-by and leaves it up to them to decide what they’re worth.
The phrase “professional busker” might, therefore, sound like an oxymoron. But Buskerfest always brings in a couple of acts with national reputations and professional aspirations.
This year, it’s Boston’s Project Dynamite and Chicago’s Pyrotechniq.
Woenker describes Project Dynamite as “ ‘Saturday Night Live’ meets Cirque du Soleil.”
“They are going to tailor their presentation to a family crowd,” she says. “They tend to perform on college campuses and can get a lot rowdier.”
Pyrotechniq, a Chicago-based troupe of fire dancers who performed at Buskerfest in 2009 and 2010, will travel east for a return engagement.
And then there’s Michigan City sword swallower Dan Meyer.
Meyer has been a Guinness World Record holder, an “America’s Got Talent” contestant and has been president of a totally-real-and-not-at-all-fabricated organization called Sword Swallowers Association International.
“I watched some of his videos before we booked him,” Woenker says. “They made me cringe.”
That must be music to a sword swallower’s ears.
A number of local arts groups will also participate, Woenker says, including Fort Wayne Taiko Drums, Raq the River Belly Dancers, break dancers from the River City Breakers and performers from the Peru Circus.
The evening will culminate in a concert by the End Times Spasm Band.
The End Times Spasm Band revives the earliest forms of jazz and blues and therefore provides perfect accompaniment to Buskerfest, Woenker says.
Woenker says the first “spasm bands” – sort of the progenitors of New Orleans jazz – started appearing on the streets of the Big Easy in the late 1800s. Spasm bands and buskers share some common DNA, she says.
Any local busker who wants to come and busk during Buskerfest is welcome to do so, Woenker says.
All Woenker asks of impromptu performers is that they connect with someone from the Downtown Improvement District beforehand so an appropriate site for the plying of aptitudes can be mutually agreed upon.
Woenker says the Downtown Improvement District almost brought an A-list circus act to Fort Wayne this year, one that would have performed aerial acrobatics on the side of the Wells Fargo building.
A deal could not be reached for this Buskerfest, but Woenker says the Downtown Improvement District is committed to thinking big.
“Buskerfest is great this year and it’s just going to get better,” she says.