• Bike Jousting: Though Michael Mooney's tall bike will not return to LAAFF this year, his bicycle jousting — a game that Mooney developed specifically for LAAFF — will. Contestants gear up in foam armor, sit astride a bike with a banana saddle and elliptical wheels, and try to dismount their opponent with a boxing glove at the end of a long pole. Fun for kids and adults.
• Big Wheels for Big Kids: This new-to-LAAFF sport was also invented by Mooney and his friends. Adults board low-rider tricycle-like vehicles and race a track made of tires.
• Miss Kitty’s Interactive Arts Area: Made for adults and kids, the arts area features many performers from the ongoing Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program. Asheville Hoops will be on hand, along with Stina Andersen's Tunnel of LAAFFs, which gives participants a chance to note what they love about the festival on a CD that is then woven into a bamboo tunnel. Melissa Glaze of the Asheville Mural Project does live painting, Our VOICE organizes a hand-print project and a hope box for survivors of sexual violence. Check out a preview of the upcoming Freaks of Asheville Calendar and hang out in the sideshow world created by Royal Peasantry.
• EarthFare Kid's Universe includes face painting and more fun stuff for young folks.
This year, 82 arts and crafts vendors will sell their wares along Lexington Ave. Since the festival’s inception this number has grown along with the square footage of LAAFF itself, which now extends all the way to BoBo Gallery. The number of arts vendors this year exceeds the number represented in this year’s Arts Park at Bele Chere.
• Catch two very different theatre shows on the LaZoom Bus Traveling Stage: Asheville Playback Theatre transforms personal stories from the audience into dramatic art accompanied by improvised music. The Feral Chihuahuas are a sketch comedy troupe who've found recent success not just in Asheville but in touring comedy festivals around the country.
• Unifire Theatre: Last year, as LAAFF reworked its schedule to allow for a 9 p.m. end time, Unifire Theatre was off the bill. But members of the troupe realized that by 8:20 p.m. Lexington Ave. would be dark enough for them to do what they do best: twirl, hurl, spin, dance with and swallow fire.
• Asheville Vaudeville: The popular variety show, which pulls from the best and most unique of local talent, will make several appearances throughout the day. Performances range from skits to juggling and beyond.
• Street performers: Performance artists usually seen around downtown Asheville are invited to perform at LAAFF as well. The festival doesn't provide each performer with his or her own piece of street, but performers can set up shop wherever they like as long as their show doesn't encroach on another street performer's space.
There's more than just music at LAAFF; there's dance, too. Local movement artists show their stuff — many of these performers also teach classes.
• Belle Afrique: Lead by Adama Dembele from Afromotive, this African Drum and Dance Collective is "committed to honoring the beauty, grace and power of West African culture through its traditional music and dance."
• Asheville Dance Revolution: Modern dance students of Jodi Taylor perform what they've learned.
• Asheville Hoops Troupe: Under the "What's all the Hoopla?" section of the AshevilleHoops.com website, Melanie "melmacpink" MacNeil lists hula-hooping benefits like toned muscles, cardiovascular health, expanded energy and "promotes a sense of youthfulness."
• Lisa Zahiya hip-hop and bhangra: Teenage students perform a routine of the Bollywood-style dance made famous by Slumdog Millionaire.
Two specialty drinks are on tap this year: Coffee and beer. Dynamite Roasting Company debuts its LAAFF beans. The brew will be available in press pots at Greenlife Grocery and in one-pound bags for sale at LAAFF. French Broad Brewery returns with its LAAFF craft beer. Three other breweries will also be participating the festival: Craggie, Pisgah and Highland.