Cirque du Lake
Party on Lake Street puts focus on downtown
Every third Friday of September, Lake Street is shut down from Marshall to Spring and transformed into a French-inspired market. Music fills the air and performers walk around on stilts, blowing fire and doing magic tricks for children. Artists sell their wares and give live demonstrations amongst food vendors and puppet shows. For those who once witnessed this part of downtown when it stood desolate, this scene is uplifting and hopeful.
Back in 2014, the 400 block of Lake Street began teeming with life. The Agora Borealis, owned by Katy Larsen, was joined by familyowned and operated Good Granoly, a bakery that specializes in (you guessed it) granola. Two architecture firms also popped up, iArchitecture and Vintage Design Group. The owners of these buildings decided to come together and celebrate Lake Street’s re-awakening with the firstever Cirque du Lake on July 17, 2014.
Six years later, Katy Larsen and pals have taken from the sidewalk to the street.
While sitting down with Larsen for the scoop, all I can wonder is, “When does this woman find time to sleep?” Larsen is the kind of person who always has 20 irons in the fire at all times. Armed with a spiral notebook and a fiery personality, Larsen is also the kind of person who knows what she wants and makes it happen.
This year’s Cirque du Lake is sure to be one for the books. Larsen has spent months planning the event and organizing well over 30 vendors and artisans. Known for working from the early hours of the morning to late into the night, Larsen believes planning these types of events is essential to the spirit of Shreveport and the community that surrounds downtown. “With free festivals like ours, we will invite more people to find joy in their downtown environment, and with more people downtown, it becomes safer to the public. People from outside our city will want to visit and take part in our growth.”
The 6th Annual Cirque du Lake will feature music by local favorites Ouro Boar, Tipsey, Twang Darkly and Lemon Pop.
Food vendors will include Ki Mexico, Hot Dawg Hut and Sweetport. Amongst the many street performers, artisans will run the gamut from visual artists such as painters and photographers to jewelry makers, vintage clothing collectors, and even live blacksmithing and pottery making. The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 20, from 5 until 9 p.m.
And while Cirque itself is absolutely something to behold, the growing businesses on Lake Street are the real stars here. Since 2014, several more companies have chosen to take up residence in this once vacant area. From marketing agency Digital Logic to the beautiful Lake Street Gallery, this part of downtown is no longer considered inhospitable. The sidewalks boast flowering pots and other greenery, and artist Ben Moss is completing a large, colorful mural on the backside of the building. Men and women regularly bike past the shops, and on lunch breaks, people can be seen walking down to browse the Agora and grab snacks at Good Granoly. This is a stark contrast from the way Larsen remembers it from before. “Very few patrons visited south downtown. There was one bar that did not have regular hours and several empty spaces ready to be filled. The 1927 and 1932 buildings were begging for life. If anyone ventured away from the Silver Lake Ballroom down to the end of Lake Street, they would be met with a dead-end wholesale furniture building.”
Cirque du Lake is more than a party; it is a way for the businesses on Lake Street to show the community the progress that is possible when we all have a little hope and do a little dreaming. Larsen hopes that the more people witness this progress for themselves, the more inspired everyone will become. “When a city shrinks and expands, the core stays strong. This core is our downtown.”