Like so many events that have had to cancel and postpone, encore’s Bestival—a celebration of our annual Best Of awards—also took a back seat to COVID-19. Rather than scratch the event altogether, we talked to our hosts, local comedy troupe Pineapple-Shaped Lamps (PSL), about how to go virtual and still maintain the event as a fundraiser for Nourish NC.
Bestival 2020 was slated to take place the first weekend in May in The Cargo District as an arts market, awards show, live music and comedy event, and beer fest. Though we can no longer gather in the sunshine to cheer on winners, we can still celebrate from afar. This year we encourage viewers to buy their fave local beer, support a local artist or musician by purchasing work directly from them, and pull up PSL’s Twitch channel on Saturday, May 16, 7 p.m., as the hosts announce all 2020 Best Of winners, welcome live music nominees and offer bits of standup comedy, in between sketches and more.
“I really believe streaming is the next logical step for any event because now anyone from anywhere can join in on the fun,” says PSL founder Wesley Brown. Brown and PSL troupe member Mikki Stith have been planning the logistics of the stream for the last month.
“Pineapple-Shaped Lamps is so lucky to have so many dedicated streamers and streaming enthusiasts,” Brown says of their Twitch account: Twitch.com/PSLcomedy. Though they’ve had the channel for years, they only recently began honing in on its possibilities as the pandemic shut down live shows.
“Twitch was one of the first streaming websites originally founded back in 2007,” Brown explains. “Though it was originally focused on gaming, now all kinds of creators, like artists, computer programmers and world travelers create awesome live videos on the platform.”
There is little lag time on the streaming service, and it’s interactive so folks can chat alongside the show. Viewers don’t need to have an account to watch, but it doesn’t hurt to sign up and follow PSL in order to keep up with their upcoming comedy streams.
Participating in Saturday’s Bestival will be Brown and Stith, along with Ashley Burton, Alex Denning, Devin DiMattia, Anna Driscoll, Beau Mumford and Brett J Young. Sketches and jokes to introduce all the winners have been culled by head writers Brett J. Young and Meghan Cook.
Live standup will come from Matt Coghlan, Alex Denning, Julia Desmond and Wills Maxwell Jr., all of whom have new bits in the works to try on audiences. In addition, live music will stream from music nominees Randy McQuay, Emily Roth and L-Shaped Lot. Viewers will be able to tip the artists and Pineapple-Shaped Lamps throughout the evening too.
“We will also have call-ins throughout the show,” Brown says, “to speak with some of our local businesses.
There will be a live chat stream as well, overseen by Brian Brown and Zeb Mims, so viewers can interact with the show. “You’re also bound to see even more Pineapples participating in the chat as a viewer,” Brown tells.
The chat will include raffle announcements throughout the evening, with proceeds benefiting Nourish NC. The local nonprofit has been making sure kids in our community are fed through various distribution programs, including school backpacks, Farmers MarKIDS and their Food Farmacy and Toddler Tummy Boxes. During the pandemic, they’ve ramped up production so kids who depend on school meals do not go without.
Items in the Bestival raffle include gift certificates from area businesses such as J. Michaels Philly Deli, Cast Iron Kitchen and Dock St. Printing, plus a Fermental gift basket, a 10-package class from Terra Sol Sanctuary, and more. Raffle entries are a minimum of $10 each, and all information on the raffle will be shared in the stream chat. “It will be very easy for viewers to click the link and donate throughout the show,” Brown assures.
Also launching as part of Bestival 2020 is the Bestival Stay Away 5K, which will continue to raise money for Nourish NC. Runners and walkers are encouraged to sign up at bestival5k.com for $29.99. Participants get an event tee, race bib, a class from Amplifly Cycle and Strength, and a $5 credit to encoreDEALS.com.
“With school being out, Nourish NC’s need is even greater and they’re stepping up to the plate to help,” encore owner John Hitt says. “For every dollar donated, Nourish is able to distribute $4-5 worth of food.”
Signups for the Stay Away 5K begin May 16 and continue through June 30. Participants need to have completed their run or walk by June 30 as well. “They can track their times and routes through an app, and share their results with other runners,” Hitt adds.
Though traditional races usually are a community event, with friends and family cheering on runners, the pandemic isn’t necessarily allowing gatherings to celebrate. Hitt clarifies this race is meant to be run alone, hence its name: Stay Away 5k (“Run like no one is watching!”).
“Many people are using their newfound free time to get in shape, so I thought it would be fun to bring a virtual race here—they’ve been happening all across the country, even before the pandemic,” he clarifies. “Runners should compete by themselves and practice social distancing. It’s not time to get your old running group back together for a group run.”
Perhaps next year will be a different story, though. Hitt’s already looking toward the future.
“It would be fantastic if Bestival 5k could be an in-person race one day,” he says. “As of now, encore plans to hold several more virtual races throughout the year as well.”
Bestival Livestream Awards Show
Saturday, May 16, 7 p.m.
Hosted by Pineapple-Shaped Lamps, with live comedy, music and Best Of 2020 awards galore!
Bestival Stay Away 5K
$29.99 • bestival5k.com
Fundraisers for Nourish NC