From little things big things grow

9th August 2017 1:30 PM
The Coffs Harbour International Buskers and Comedy Festival returns from September 23 to October 1. The Coffs Harbour International Buskers and Comedy Festival returns from September 23 to October 1. JLE

WHILE most locals and visitors to the city would be aware of the yearly Buskers Festival, only a handful would remember the history of the event and how it came to be in its present form.

The event was first run in Coffs by the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour City in 1989.

At that time it was mostly a competitive event and was known as The Buttercup Buskers Festival.

It ran yearly until 1982 or '83 but with the loss of the major sponsor and the increasing workload on a voluntary organisation , it just faded away.

A few attempts were made to resurrect it in the mid 1990's but it lay dormant until later in the decade.

Meanwhile local promotions company John Logan Entertainment (JLE) had been looking for an event to sink their teeth into, in part to eliminate the constant and endless tours all over eastern Australia with bands.

"I loved the band tours but the travel was killing me," John said.

In one of their weekly business meetings someone suggested trying to relaunch the old Buskers Festival. 

Unknown to them initially at the time, Coffs Harbour City Council were also looking at ways to reinvigorate the CBD and all the focus group work they had done kept on coming up with the same theme, "the Buskers".

The two got together and launched the event again in 2000 for what was a three day event with seven Buskers to a very appreciative audience.

Everyone loved the idea and the Buskers was reborn.

Since then the event has morphed over time to include an adult comedy and children's program and has variously stretched to 10 days, been reduced back to seven and now in its seventeenth year sits at eight days, with 15 to 20 acts producing nearly one hundred shows.

Artists come from overseas and all over Australia and the festival regularly gets over one hundred and fifty applications mostly from overseas.

"I started going to festivals everywhere and handing out my business card," John said.

"Now I just go and stay where the acts stay and meet them at the breakfast table."

John has one rule he tries to adhere to every year and that is his must have personally seen the act.

"This requires a lot of travel and I can't always say I have seen every act, but I try," he added.

"I've had some flops like the infamous Granny Rapper but most of my discoveries have been on the money. Alfred and Seymour, Clown Loto and Mario Queen of the Circus were acts I discovered at other festivals and invited here".

"This year I am also delighted to advise we are finally back in the city centre for four days Wednesday 27th to Saturday 30th."

Festival dates this year are September 23rd to October 1st.

Go to coffsharbourbuskers.com