CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Kings Mill Busker Fest poised to reunite artists with audiences

By Allen Steinberg/Quinte Arts Council

When the Stirling Festival Theatre announced that their summer season would go completely outdoors due to lingering COVID-19 restrictions, Artistic Director Ken MacDougall knew he’d be tasked with bringing the theatre experience out into the community. One day, after ordering one of Kings Mill’s beloved wood-fired pizzas, he took a stroll out to their beautiful orchard in Stirling, where he realized it would make the perfect spot to host a festival of sorts.

“I started thinking about all the events that could be held there. I had some experience in busker festivals and thought Kings Mill would be ideal,” said MacDougall. From there, he sat down with owners Margaret Van Helvoort and Kees Morsink and they began planning. Morsink says that they immediately fell in love with the idea.

“We all want to see Stirling shine and when Ken approached us about the Busker Festival, we were all in,” said Morsink.

The first ever Busker Festival at Kings Mill, set to run from Friday, August 13 until Sunday, August 15, is a huge step towards rebuilding the local arts community. It has been almost a year-and-a-half since many artists have been able to perform in front of real-life audiences, and this event enables talented performers to hone their craft and interact with the community once again. MacDougall has been an avid supporter of the local arts and lately, has been working overtime with artists who are eager to get back to business: “I have been actively booking artists ever since we announced our summer season. Artists are anxious to work again.”

Although the names of talent have yet to be announced, he insists that there will be a wide range of exciting acts.

“We have booked aerialists, an ‘old timey magic show,’ a flea circus and even a musician who will sing sea-shanties in a pond. There will be face painting and the bathrooms will be transformed into small art galleries. There will be lots more to come. We will make a big announcement about who’s coming soon!”

He also says that the festival will feature many local artists, as well as performers from surrounding areas like Kingston.

While it’s clear that artists are aching to show off their skills in-person again, the community is longing for entertainment just as much. MacDougall says that tickets for each time slot are already selling fast. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive for the show and our whole summer season. We believe that this is an event that will become an annual tradition.”

Tickets can be purchased at the Stirling Festival Theatre website. For announcements on talent listings and more updates, follow Kings Mill Cider and Stirling Festival Theatre on Instagram and Facebook.