Juggling a sweet time

St. Petersburg will feel a lot sweeter this weekend.

The Grand Central District’s Buskerfest & Ice Cream Taste-Off will be held Saturday. The festival is organized by the Grand Central District Association, a non-profit organization aimed at promoting and developing local businesses in the Central District – a growing neighborhood in St. Petersburg.

The idea of a Buskerfest came from promotion committee chair Jeff Schorr.

Schorr attended a Buskerfest while on his honeymoon, and that brought him to the idea seven years later.

“We were trying to think of something inventive but unique to see in every other town in Florida, and we kind of came up with the idea of Buskerfest,” he said. “Then someone else was talking about an ice cream festival for a separate event. … We decided to combine the two.”

Schorr hopes the festival will bring greater exposure to the Grand Central District.

“Downtown St. Petersburg is changing so quickly that people who haven’t been here in a while, they come especially to the Grand Central District, they are just surprised at all the new shops and new restaurants in the area,” he said.

The festival is also a fundraiser for the Grand Central District.A busker is a performer who entertains passers-by for money in public places. Mimes, jugglers and magicians are buskers.

“A busker is probably the oldest form of art,” Schorr said. “Buskers have been entertaining audiences for centuries, and they bring the entertainment to the people, so it’s out there, it’s accessible to everyone.”

Working Cow Ice Cream is the ice cream supplier for the festival. They will have an ice cream truck and will hand out samples, and people can vote for their favorite flavor. People will also get a chance to vote for their favorite street performer.

Barnaby, a magician with 30 years of experience, will be performing Saturday.

A 1976 graduate from the Ringling Brothers Clown College, Barnaby has worked as a circus performer and magician and has performed at numerous festivals. He even owns his own flea circus, which he will bring with him on Saturday to display. He will also be performing close-up table magic.

The magician said he would like to see the Buskerfest grow throughout the years.

“I travel a lot, so it’d be a good reason to come back to St. Pete for the Buskerfest,” Barnaby said.

Schorr said he thinks people will enjoy the festival.

“It’s going to be real, unique, fun entertainment, and all they have to do is walk down the street and watch it,” said Schorr. “Like I said, there’ll be jugglers, there’ll be fire-eaters, someone’s bringing their little flea circus. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and it is going to be something that, you know, over the years, will be built up bigger and bigger.”

The Grand Central District Buskerfest & Ice Cream Taste-Off is also sponsored by the City of St. Petersburg, Washington Mutual and the St. Petersburg Times. It will be held on Central Avenue from 20th Street to 30th Street, and it will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.