The wildly popular Buskers & Comedy Festival is about to commence, and it’s set to be bigger and better than ever. Focus caught up with John Logan to find out more about this year’s line up of performers.
When will the festival be held this year?
September 25th to October 2nd.
How long has the festival been running?
It actually began in 1989, when the Rotary Club of Coffs City first began the event, but with the loss of major sponsor Buttercup, it stopped in the early ‘90s. With the support of Council, it kicked it off again in 2000, so that makes it 16 years. We missed 2001, while the old mall was turned into Harbour Drive.
Who are some of the acts that people can see this year?
We have been lucky enough to secure The Phly Crew, who you may have seen on Australia’s Got Talent last year, but we only have them for one day. The Gold Man from Chile is quite something and everyone should make an effort to see him, as he practices the old Indian art of street levitation. Just Dance and Cheer, a 40 strong group of cheerleaders, is another must see, while the African Acrobats will amaze you.
One of our absolute favourites from last year was Super Sam from NZ, and he has agreed to return for four days. This year the three comedy nights at the Pier Hotel will also host the strongest line up to date, with Lindsay Webb hosting every night.
Any other highlights?
Seriously, there are so many, it’s hard to isolate just one or two. Dr. Rhythm, a comedy beat boxer who had his own TV show on ABC 3 will be doing two nights at the Hoey Moey, while for residents of the northern beaches, we will be doing two nights at Moonee Tavern. We will be at the Botanic Gardens with a “Carnivale” style Friday night, while we are also at Toormina Gardens for three days.
How do you find the buskers that perform each year; do they have to audition?
We get about 150 applications a year, most from overseas. I try to see as many as possible, but that means a lot of travel. I also get daily emails and videos sent to me from friends and family, who all say, “You should get this person”. No, no one has to audition; it is by invitation only.
What have been some of the memorable acts that have appeared during the event’s history?
Well, we can’t get over the reaction to Super Sam (who will be here this year). All time favourites are without doubt The Blackstreet Boyz and Mario Queen of the Circus.
Do you feel the festival brings a sense of excitement to the local area?
Yes, without doubt. There is a tangible excitement in the air as the weather gets warmer each year. Everyone looks forward to it, and it appeals to all ages and demographics.
What other benefits do you feel it has for the town and the city centre?
Well for this year, we are excited to say we are back in the city centre for three and a half days. We won’t be closing the street, but we’ll be there Wednesday, Thursday day and night, and Friday. Obviously it brings a flow on economic benefit from people who may be there over several hours on any given day, but it also brings life, fun, colour and excitement to the area. As we like to say, there is no other event that puts a smile on your face.
What are the hopes for the future of the event?
Our plans are to build the event by diversifying the entertainment on offer. For example, this year you will see cheerleaders and a giant couch as part of the programme. Next year I want to start looking at sculpture as part of the event, and long term we want to link up with other events at or around the same time, to give visitors more than one reason to visit Coffs. This year we were hoping to partner with The Festival of Steam, but that fell over when they couldn’t get a locomotive and the festival was shelved for 2016. We are very fortunate to enjoy great media support in Coffs, but we struggle outside Coffs because of budget limitations. That is also a work in progress.
Where can people find out more about the event?
We post regular updates on the festival Facebook page, but the full information and several videos are on the website:
Coffs Harbour International Buskers & Comedy Festival
September 25th until October 2nd, 2016.