It’s a summer staple in the city but like so many other events this year, the Toronto International BuskerFest had to be cancelled.
“This would have been our 21st year, so for 20 years we’ve been doing this festival in the summer in Toronto,” Mackenzie Muldoon, the entertainment and marketing director for Buskerfest, said.
“It has been an incredible event, bringing performers from around the world. So it’s a big deal for us that it’s the first time it hasn’t happened in 20, 21 years.”
Not only has the cancellation been tough on audiences and attendees, but it’s made for a difficult time for those involved in the event.
“For me, it’s definitely missing new faces,” Lindsay Yeo, a volunteer with Buskerfest and member of Epilepsy Toronto, said. “Seeing new acts, seeing how busy it can be. I kind of miss it all.”
Typically, the Toronto International BuskerFest would raise awareness and funds for Epilepsy Toronto.
“We ask donations at the gate, and that usually raises about $100,000 for Epilepsy Toronto, so that’s a big hole to fill,” explains Muldoon, who also works for the agency. She says the organization has pivoted during this pandemic.
“We started having online support groups. We had a Purple Walk. We’ve been doing more webinars,” Muldoon said. “All these things to engage our community and let them know they’re not alone, and that we are there to support them and connect with them.”
Epilepsy Toronto says that approximately 40,000 people in the city live with the disorder. Yeo says being able to rely on the agency during COVID-19 has been important.
“They’re like a second family to me,” she told CTV News Toronto. “They really have been, and so to think about if they didn’t exist, that’s scary.”
Their online fundraisers, including a monthly 50/50 draw, has helped Epilepsy Toronto survive, Muldoon said. She adds that the agency is going strong, and looks forward to hopefully bringing back the Toronto International BuskerFest next summer.
“We sure do miss our audience members, our volunteers and, of course, our performers,” she says. “They are a beautiful group of people, and we certainly hope that we will be back to performing and celebrating with them for 2021 BuskerFest.”