Street Fest costs money – what good festival doesn’t?

The health of a good festival, like any good tourist attraction, can be measured on how fast it sucks the money out of your wallet – and it looks like the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival is in the pink.

This is not a complaint. It’s a compliment. This venerable busker’s fest has long been thought of as Edmonton’s only “free” festival, but these gifted street performers don’t work for free. They rely on voluntary contributions from whatever audience they can attract. The better the act, generally – and the better the weather – the bigger the crowd, and the more money the performers earn. It’s street commerce at its most primal. That they keep coming back, and at such a consistent high quality, is evidence that most people do in fact pay for this so called free entertainment, and look askance at the deadbeats who scuttle away just before the hat is brought out.

So for a good show – like the Lords of Strut (above), for instance, an Irish duo who put on a hilarious 20 minutes of Zoolander-inspired male model-acrobatic hijinx – it’s about $2-5 per person, realistically. The Lords of Strut collected a number of $20s, too, because they’re giving away a free DVD at that contribution level – “and for $40, you get TWO!” they declare. Heck of a deal. Add God knows what for downtown parking on a weekday, $8 for corn dogs, $8 for balloon animals, up to $10 per face for face painting, plus ice cream, lemonade, green onion cakes, perhaps a visit to the “silent disco,” more lemonade – and before you know it, you’ve blown a C-note for a family festival afternoon.

Sound familiar?

K-Days starts July 20, so just triple that $100 for a family of four. The Street Festival, meanwhile, runs through Sunday at Churchill Square. Sure, it costs money because it’s worth money. Being able to jump into the City Hall wading pool after the show? Priceless.

Darrin Hagen

Grant Goldie

Big D Wilson

RIGHT: Darren Hagin – perhaps better known as The Edmonton Queen – appears in mufti to show off his surprising accordion chops. He’s just one of several “roving performers” at the Street Fest.





RIGHT: Grant Goldie – one of several featured acts this year from Ireland – is a skilled prop and balance artist, master of balls, hats and other things that you shouldn’t try to balance at home.




RIGHT: You might balk at the $2 per balloon fee for Big D Wilson’s rubbery creations, but he can make a balloon guitar that can actually play music, among many other amazing things.





Silent Disco

RIGHT:  The “Silent Disco,” where kids can get out into the world to do what they’d do at home – go into their own little world.

The Lords of Strut









RIGHT: Another good gig from The Lords of Strut, who pay homage to Zoolander with many “Blue Steel” and “Magnum” poses as they literally crawl all over each other in tight-fitting clothing.