The inaugural Waterloo Busker Carnival was held in Waterloo from September 7 - 10, 1989 and was meant to be a teaser to the 100th Anniversary of the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce in August of 1990. Dave Sandrock, then President of Waterloo Bedding and head of the Chamber's Tourism Committee, had the idea after his 1988 visit to Halifax where he attended the Halifax Busker Festival for the first time.
The 1989 Waterloo Busker Carnival was produced by Buskers International Festivals Inc. from Halifax. The local committee members included such notables in the community as Dale Wilcox (Fairway Group), Bill Renauld (Newtex Cleaners), Alan Chalmers (Forbes Motors, and Jim Brickman (Brick Brewery).
The lineup of Buskers included:
Pierre and Gaby jugglers
Alex Elixer juggling, mime, comedy
Wyndsong & Cheez snow dragon and character performer
Peter Gross juggling and magic
Kalonymus acrobatics and comedy
Derek Scott clown, magic, comedy, juggler
The Checkerboard Guy juggling, comedy, mime, clown
Lorne Moss magician
Heart Act to Follow fire eating, juggling
Glenn Singer magical mime and comedy
Pharazon Street Dancers breakdancing, popping, and mime
Arthur & Co marionette manipulators
Plug the Clown comedy, juggling, and clown
Two of today's current pitch sponsors, UpTown Waterloo and Airways Transit, were both sponsors in 1989 and have continued to support the carnival right through to todays 25th anniversary celebration.
Fans voted for the top 3 busker favourites with a 1st prize $1,000 and bronze Busker Bust, 2nd prize of $300, and 3rd prize of $200. In addition a Friendship Among Busker Award was sponsored by UpTown BIA and provided $750 to the most congenial and supportive busker during the carnival as voted on by fellow buskers.
Dale Wilcox (Fairway Group) was quoted in The Record as saying "The crowds are very good here. More than expected. The hats were good too. The performers tell me from average to above average. From what I understand, everybody wants it back."
It was estimated that 25,000 people had come out and attended at least one show. In response to crowd size compared to similar festivals in comparable communities, Wilcox noted, "I'm really pleased. We've introduced a new word into the vocabulary of the community. I found the biggest crowd here was families with kids. This is really for people and tourists and makes the city very human. It brings a little bit of life to it and a lot of fun."