What is ABSFest?

Now in our 14th YEAR, ABSfest is a three-day Burlesque & Sideshow festival held in Asheville, NC, historically known as the ‘Paris of the South’ (and more recently in the news as a ‘Cesspool of Sin’). The event offers three days of performance, networking, shopping and workshops for both the public and the professional performer. 

ABSfest hires national and international Headliners to lead the festival each year, and selects other acts from the pool of Performer Applications. 

ABSfest attempts to integrate all the Vaudeville Revival Arts under one marquee, to insure the best possible shows and the most inspiring collaborations in the broader Burlesque and Sideshow communities. 

The event is spread through venues downtown, allowing the visitor to sample the city. The city is ideal for the low-budget traveler as well as the committed ‘foodie’, with great  coffee-shops, DIY boutiques and all things wonderful. 

Our gift to the artists, another usual festival event is our Tour of the City, wherein the festival artists take a turn through the town on the Vaudeville theatre bus. 

ABSfest believes in the power of education, both for the public and the artists empowering each other to excel in the craft. The sessions are open to all, and are priced for accessibility. Teaching artists get 70% of class profits, and all performers are encouraged to attend a class: support the artists, learn something new, help create a culture of professionalism, constructive critique and valued information-sharing.

How does the application process work? 

Visit the festival website, fill out the Performer Application, send your print-ready pictures, and pay the application fee. We weigh all the applications with a mind to creating the most balanced programming possible. Confirmation that your Application was received should arrive within two weeks. If your act is accepted, please be prepared to submit your music, tech specs, and bios for use on stage and in the program in a prompt manner. 

Consider bringing your most polished and creative pieces to share.

Where do the artists stay and eat in Asheville, and how do they get around?

Parking is fairly easy at each venue. If you are flying in, we can help.

We have a variety of suggestions for lodging. Most folks choose to stay at the DownTown Inn. It’s VERY basic, but central to everything. Most of the artists stay in West Asheville in Air BnBs. Another option is the Sweet Peas Hostel downtown.

And of course, many of the returning artists have made friendships that last, and team up every year to achieve maximum fun in their accommodations.

Do the acts get paid?

Mostly not. Headliners and staff get paid. We pay more and more artists every year, but most folks perform for the opportunity to meet people, book gigs, learn, and collaborate in upmarket venues. Those professional venues and technicians make every artist look and sound fabulous.

And to optimize your benefits from your performance, ABSfest gets professional videography and photography to capture the weekend.

Artists teaching through the ABSfest Seminary offset the costs of travel by keeping 70% of workshop revenues. Sometimes, the festival works with the local arts commission to create more paid street work for our artists as well. It’s worth it, we pinkie-swear!

Do I get comp tickets?

There are no comps for friends and family, as the venues are generally at capacity.

We offer each artist who applies a guest ticket either the Friday or Sunday show, whether their act is accepted or not!

Is there free vending?

As a courtesy, we will put out, and joyously steward, a limited amount of your merch at the big Saturday show. You will need to provide the Vendor Coordinator, with your merch, an inventory sheet, and a cash bank. If you want to make a bigger impression with your wares, you will want to rent a table. Talk to us, we can help.

What are the airport options?

Asheville has a modest airport 30 minutes out, AVL, and for $30 and advance notice we can arrange for you to be picked up and returned from the airport to a central locale. Paypal and email to futureoftradition@gmail.com to arrange details.

Will my performance be recorded?

YES. Photos are free, Video costs money and is done through an excellent company. Every performer is required to fill out a waiver allowing the event to use their image, moving and still, to promote future festivals. The filming company will upload your footage to the interwebs or make a dvd of your set, for a fee to be determined by them.

What is the Annual Award?

ABSfest traditionally honors one regional artist per year onstage with an Artist Recognition Award for valiant work in keeping the Vaudeville Arts alive and vibrant. In 2011, the award was renamed the Phil Slomski Artist Recognition Award, in memory of that fine artist and human.

What is the Festival Artist’s Sunday VAUDEVILLE BUS Ride?

The perfect wind-down for the ABSfest weekend is our hilarious and frequently tipsy VAUDEVILLE BUS RIDE through the city AFTER the Sunday Brunch show. This bus is 40″ feet long and comes with leopard print, wine, and song. Relax in style after a weekend crammed with shows and classes, and spend a little quality time with your fellow ABSfest artists before the weekend is over.

Please note that there is a strict RSVP BUS policy. You will receive an RSVP email prior to the festival if your act is accepted. The bus can only fit FORTY people. Don’t miss it!