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Mario Morris
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Mario Morris
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Over the years I have worked Festivals and I have worked Street.
I have found all that I have worked to be hugely different!

Free Festivals
Ticketed Festivals
Big Festivals
Small Festivals
Themed Festivals
Food Festivals
Buskers Festivals
Street Festivals
Just to name a few then you have
Carnivals THIS IS BIG, BIG

In Andulcia their is over 3000 street Carnival style street festivals alone!
We are talking had core party time where every cent is thought for hand over fist!

Their are huge differences Between Buskers festivals, street festivals and ticketed evets.

Their are festivals that I have turned up to and I have made a killing at. Their are festivals that I have turned up to that have almost killed me!
Left me flat broke and spat out at the other end.

Their are huge festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe that can swallow one street performer alive or make him over night!

Their are towns and cities that depend on festivals more so in Europe I guess!
What is your experience of Festivals?
What makes a good Festival?
When do street and festival become one if ever?

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NY Metro
936 Posts

Profile of solrak29
My experience is fairly limited in comparison but I "crashed" three
different street fairs after scoping them out to make sure there were
no other magicians working that event. Then I worked two other street
festivals by invitation.

These street festivals range from a single street to several blocks and
one was in a small park. The bigger the event the better it was for me.
I've found these events a lot easier to get an audience.

One street fair seemed to be a bust as there was no one there which leads
to one question mentioned above...what makes a good festival? People. Lots
of them.

I would love to head out to EU to experience things like the Edinburgh...
To Find Me On The Pitch, Follow me :On Twitter
Checkout my pseudo blog : The Sidewalk Performers Forum

"I intend to live forever, or die trying" - Groucho Marx
tom hughes
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My experience with festivals....

At most street festivals people are milling around, they'll stop to watch a show quite easily but are harder to hold throughout the show; it's tougher to get them to commit. In part this is because there are so many other things to see at the fest... and also because they assume that if you are there you are being paid by the festival to be there. The end result is that my hat is usually lighter at a festival than on the real street per show BUT this is compensated for by the fact that getting a crowd is so easy that you can do many, many more shows.... although I feel that because people don't commit so well at fests the show suffers a bit.

At most festivals I prefer to twist balloons.... I usually do better.

What makes a good festival? Lots of people, clement weather, other buskers around... but not fighting for pitches, lots of arts and crafts to see for the punters but not so many fairground rides ( this is especially true for balloons) etc...


magician/magic show in asheville w.n.c.
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Profile of Pizpor
I agree with Tom's comments. Street festivals, or what we tend to call them around here - block parties - are super easy to get draw an edge. There are countless people there to see whatever is going on and experience the ambience. A good street show can get an instant crowd.

I've noticed that there is a certain dynamic to each crowd that can be hard to predict, but easy to pick up on when you're performing. Having performed 100's of shows at renaissance festivals, you can easily notice a collective energy in each crowd. The energy can change hour to hour, and day to day. I really don't know what it is, but sometimes the entire attendance is more or less in a coma and you can't get an ounce of energy out of them. Then other days they are going nuts and you can do no wrong. It's just weird when there are 20,000 people walking around all in the same mood. All of the other acts that I work with say the exact same thing because they notice it too. We all talk in the evening about how dead it was or how crazy the day went. This tends to be reassuring, because if you ever start beatIng yourself up becuase you thought you were bombing that day, you find that everyone else felt the same thing.

Then we go back and do it again. You kind of live for those days when the crowds are full of energy and excited for the entertainment. Those days are really fun.
Magician Shaun
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Huntington BCH, CA
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I had that exact experience the last few festivals. Working multiple day events you can really see. One day, everyone is almost drugged, another everyone is happy, screaming and it's easy.

About making bigger hats, explain to the people as you do the show that you aren't paid to be there. You are Busking. However you explain that. Don't forget to get the receipt, getting an acknowledgement that your show is worth $5 and suggesting more will go a long way. It let's you more boldly say, "Some of you will give a $5, one of you will give $10....." These two things go a long way towards fattening the HAT.
The Great Zoobini
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Boulder, Colorado
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"Some of you will kick-in $10 - some $5..."
Meet you in Busker Alley Smile
Gary T.
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I've worked only one festival, it's the only time I've been out looking for tips, aside from a bit I did at my college, which was a bust, college students aren't walking arround looking to hand out money lol, anyway it was a street festival type of thing, I got there late and they closed early, so I only got about an hour of performing in and made 8 bux, but I learned one verry important thing, at festivals the most important thing is to play to the kids, out of the 8 dollars I made, I would say at least 6 of it came from the parents of kids, the first thing I did when I was at the festival was after the first go I Immediately dropped the card work I was doing from the routine, it wasn't gonna cut it, I did spongeballs, ropes, and cups and balls, makes for a short show, and it's all things that kids can understand and enjoy, while it still blows the parent's away.
Gary T.
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Oh, and I also feel like a short show is important at festivals, people go there to mill arround, look at 100 sales booths, buy stuff, and get ripped off at festival games, they don't come there expecting to stand in one place for 30 minutes to watch your show, you're gonna find it a lot easier to change you're plans than everybody else's at the festivals. this is why there are so many people busking playing instruments, you can just walk by and listen, you don't have to commit to a 30 minute show just to get to the good stuff.
Magician Shaun
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Actually, I find that at festivals people tend toward boredom. If you do 30 minutes and it's good, they will stay. They tip too!
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Profile of mota
I would like to share a couple tips from the late S. David Walker. He was talking about pitching but hopefully this will prove helpful to someone.

First, is it a free event? If they can get there by bus and the admission is free it won't be a fat tip. If there is an admission fee and/or they have to pay to park then the crowd will have a different attitude toward money. While a small thing, avoiding events that stress the word "free" might prove helpful.

Second, if you are working a fair do they have agriculture exhibits? This is the type of thing where you see prize chickens, award-winning pigs and such things. If your area has FFA (Future Farmers of America) look at their sites to see where they will be. While these young people may not have money the crowds that come to these types of things tend to be family oriented and have better attitudes about tipping.

Not a long post but hopefully some information someone can use.
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Profile of MagiUlysses
Greetings and Salutations,

Doing some judicious experimenting this past summer, I've discovered that a shorter show, 12 to 16 minutes works best for me. Any shorter of a show and the hats are short, and much longer -- anything beyond 20 minutes (for me), and the hats are about the same -- short. The 12- to 16-minute show seems to work the best for me. I do two bits, the professor's nightmare, and the cups and balls, interacting with the audience, letting them examine the props, talking to them, etc. If I don't have what I need to start, I'll starting disappearing and reappearing a silk (using your favorite method), and then I launch.

It seems to be working for me, but as always, YMMV.

Joe Zeman aka
The Mage Ulysses
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