Doggone fun at Burlington’s Festival of Fools

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 1:54 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:31 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Festival of Fools is underway in downtown Burlington. Buskers, musicians and performers of all kinds are taking to Church Street for audiences to enjoy.

Pick a genre and it’s probably there-- comedians, jugglers, acrobats and brass bands are all on the schedule for the three-day event! There’s even one act bringing “paw-some” tricks to the festival.

As August circles back around, so does the Festival of Fools, welcoming performers like Scott Houghton to the Queen City.

“The name of our act is Mutts Gone Nuts. We’re from Baltimore, Maryland, and it’s great to come back to Burlington,” Houghton said.

Houghton is no stranger to Vermont, he’s been coming here since 1982, and has performed a number of times at the Champlain Valley Expo.

But it’s not just Houghton who’s having a ball, it’s his posse of pups, too.

“Circus dogs and Frisbee dogs, we have a dog that walks on a tight wire. Our greyhound Feather has the Guinness Book world record for highest jump by a dog, so we got some of the best canine athletes in the world here this weekend,” Houghton said.

He has eight dogs with him to perform at the Festival of Fools this weekend, but he says the roster rotates between tour stops. One thing that’s consistent-- all of these daring dogs are rescues.

“You know, we like to give them a second chance and a lot of dogs like Finn here are a little too active for the family that bought them and that’s why they end up in the shelter. But they have a good home with us, we keep them busy,” Houghton said.

Houghton began as a juggling act for 20 years or so before a friend got him into tricks with dogs and horses.

“People love dogs, they really pull crowds and they’re a lot of fun to work with,” he said.

Of course, it takes a good bit of time to train these dogs for the shows, but anything is “paw-sible,” and their jobs depend largely on what they enjoy.

“Try to find out what our dogs like to do and reinforce those behaviors,” Houghton explained. “Finn here loves to fetch, so he’s one of our Frisbee guys. You know, we just like to think our dogs aren’t working, they’re just playing.”

This weekend they’ll be playing on Church Street for everyone to see.

“If people come up and say our dogs look like they’re having a good time, that’s the best compliment we can get,” Houghton said.

Mutts Gone Nuts performs three times a day. Click here for the full schedule of all the acts in the Festival of Fools.

The fun kicked off at noon on Friday and runs through Sunday at 6 p.m. All of the performances are free to watch.

Watch the video below for more details about the Festival of Fools from Zach Williamson, the festival and events director for Burlington City Arts.

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