History of the Waterloo Busker Carnival: 2013 - Year 25

Planning for the 25th anniversary began in 2012.


Fans were encouraged to name their favourite busking act, which later were coined "fan favourites". Entertainment Directors Michele Schroder and Steve O'Brien reviewed these acts and went on the hunt to determine which artists were still active.

They were thrilled when they found David Aiken aka The Checkerboard Guy still active in the busker world. He was an original busker from the very first carnival in 1989. Alakazam was a fan favourite from 1999. He had appeared three times thereafter and busker fans have adored him.

Over the latter part of 2012 and into the first part of 2013, the list of Busker Fan Favourites was carefully pieced together until the 25th anniversary lineup was finally complete.

ALAKAZAM "THE HUMAN KNOT" (1999, 2001, 2005, 2010)

Audiences the world over have been left breathless by Al's incredibly freaky body contortions, cheeky comedy, and ridiculous, sky-high feats of danger. A mix of traditional vaudeville, circus sideshow, and twisted comedy, THE HUMAN KNOT is a self-contained freak show suitable for the whole family!


Combing theatre, comedy, and circus, Aytahn is famous for his crystal ball manipulation and juggling as well as occasional bits with his hat and cigar boxes. He is a comic gentleman known for his silly elegance and his award winning circus skills that are matched only by his authenticity, charm, and experience.


This completely over-the-top parody of Barbie brings the absurdity of modern-day vanity into the spotlight. This character struts between clown and buffoon, leaving her public laughing in awe. From her excessive need for big hair, boobs, and "perfect" lipstick to her constant need for appreciation, Becky Hoops leaves both families and late night cabarets alike in stitches.

CHECKERBOARD GUY (1989, 1999, 2004)

25 years ago, the Checkerboard Guy appeared at the very first busker carnival here in Waterloo. Hes a comic daredevil whose manic energy, zany sense of humour and robust skill set have been his passport to the globe! His award-winning comedic variety show has been compared to Steve Martin, Pee Wee Herman, and even a live action version of The Simpsons. Bottom linehis infectious energy and crazy stunts will leave you rolling in the aisles!


Raised by Ninjas on top of a mountain, probably a tall one, Chalkmaster was considered the ultimate warrior" if what is said is true. But alas, he is simply the worlds most attractive 250 pound sidewalk artist whos hoping to make your eyeballs smile with his pretty, pretty colours.

DANIEL FORLANO (2002, 2007)

Daniel appears globally in theatre, cabaret, club, and outdoor venues. He performs in the universal style of the great clowns with contemporary comic and dramatic influences, verbally and nonverbally. In his words, he was born to Cylons in the Virgo Supercluster at the outer limits of the Milky Way Galaxy near a star called The Sun on a planet where the food is quite good. To survive captivity, he transformed into a turtle and escaped slowly. He is currently a monk.

LES VITAMENS (2005, 2011)

This high energy duo will dazzle you with an amazing array of acrobatic feats- all punctuated by high octane improvisation. Now, you may get invited to join in but a word of warning, Les Vitamens are wonderfully addictive. When taken in excess, their show may lead to over-dilated pupils and side-splitting aches and pains!


Youll be thrilled by the most talented and experienced extreme pogo performance team in the world. Jumping over 8 feet in the air on next-generation pogo sticks while throwing down flips and incredible extreme stunts, the Pogo Dudes create crowds in an instant and keep them engaged until the final bounce.

REUBEN DotDotDot (2012)
United Kingdom

You need to see Reuben DotDotDot for yourself to believe the death defying stunts and balances that he brings to every show. He defies gravity with an acrobatic performance that has it all humour, handstands, and yes, holding on for dear life! In fact, with his one-handed balance some 15 feet up in the air, Reuben DotDotDot guarantees that asphalt never looked so hard.


"Sharon from Canada" is your typical Canadian; friendly, polite, patriotic, apologetic, and slightly repressed. Being an ambassador for such a exciting nation comes with its own strains. Every now and then, she is overcome by the feeling that there must be more to life. With a "little" help from the audience, she revamps into her more uninhibited counterpart; the one, the only, Miss Tallulah! Join her on her hilarious travels through passion, acceptance, and liberation.


This crazy duo has performed at festivals and carnivals throughout North America taking busking to new heights. They will be roving this year's carnival with their unique brand of circus, dance, and street theatre. From giant clowns, to 9 foot Elvis, cowboys, hockey guys, and more, the Stilt Guys will sweep you up into an improvised world of fun and laughter!

STREET CIRCUS (2004, 2006, 2008 (Dan), 2010, 2011 (Dan & Kim))

Energy. Circus. Comedy. The circus duo of Daniel Craig and Kimberly Olson-Wheeler provide all three in an astoundingly complete circus spectacle! In an effort to bring all the great things about the circus into one show, the duo performs stunning acrobatics, mind-bending contortion, comical clowning, and of course, copious amounts of comedy in their daredevil stunt show. Don't miss Street Circus!


Get set for a unique blend of charm, zaniness, and amazing feats. Trulee Odd has amused and thrilled audiences around the world from the time he makes his entrance on a tiny motorcycle to his heart stopping finale. You wont want to miss a second as he balances on a unicycle 15 feet in the air as he juggles knives blindfolded.



Michele Schroder, Director of Entertainment, learning that the Barenaked Ladies appeared at the 2nd Waterloo Busker Carnival (before they coincidentally had a name) was on a mission to have them kickoff the 25th anniversary of the carnival. This led to talks with former BNL front man, Steven Page, and early in 2013, the contract was signed.

On Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 6:30pm, Steven Page, former front man for Barenaked Ladies performed for a packed Waterloo Public Square and launched the 25th anniversary with a one hour long FREE concert. Supported by Canadian cello player and composer, Kevin Fox, he dazzled the audience with BNL favourites that he authored as well as new songs from his solo act. At the end of the concert, the crowd chanted "STEVEN. STEVEN" and much to their delight he returned to the stage for one final song.

It was the most electrifying opening in the history of the carnival. A relative unknown in 1990, Steven Page, an internationally renowned musician and singer, had returned to celebrate the 25th anniversary in style.


On the evening Wednesday, August 21, 2013, the Festival of Fools celebrated 15 years of raising funds for the carnival at the RIM Complex of the City of Waterloo. It was hosted by 25 year veteran, David Aiken (Checkerboard Guy) - a busker from the very first carnival in Waterloo. The show featured a series of 10 minute performances by the Busker Fan Favourites from the past 25 years.

Special Recognition Awards

In addition, Special Recognition Awards for Dedication and Support throughout 25 years of the carnival were presented to the City of Waterloo, UpTown Waterloo, CTV Kitchener, Airways Transit, and Sun Life Financial.

Two more of these awards were presented to Waterloo Busker Carnival committee members who each had 24 consecutive years of service:

Tracey Johnston-Aldworth joined the busker carnival committee in 1990 for the second carnival and served in various roles including Chair throughout the 24 years. Her company, Traces Screen Printing Limited has sponsored the carnival throughout that time. Her ongoing participation with the Waterloo Busker Carnival, her 1994 Environmental Achievement Award from the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, and her 1995 Environmental Award from the Region of Waterloo for leading environmental practices at Traces Screen Printing Limited contributed to being recognized with The Waterloo Award in 1998 - the City of Waterloo's highest civic honour for contributing to the community without any personal gain. In 2001, she was awarded with an Environmental Sustainability Award from the Region of Waterloo for her ecology- friendly business.

Randy Warren, consistently on the carnival committee since the 2nd carnival in 1990, was honoured with The Waterloo Award in 2008- the highest civic honour a person can receive from the City of Waterloo. Since 1989, Randy was a key player in contributing to the success of Waterloo Busker Carnival, by raising sponsorship dollars, procuring festival entertainment, organizing the Festival of Fools, and serving several times as chairperson of the carnival's executive committee. A 2003 graduate of Leadership Waterloo Region, Randy has since served on Leadership Waterloo Region committees.