The Gowanus Canal is polluted with heavy metals — but for one day only it’s going acoustic.
The fourth-ever Banjo Toss contest is capping-off this year’s Brooklyn Folk Festival, giving attendees of the weekend-long hootenanny of American roots music a chance to strum the rustic instrument before taking turns throwing one in the waterway.
“Sometimes I just want to throw my banjo across the room,” said Smith. “And I thought, that might be a pretty fun idea for a contest.”
To avoid destroying numerous banjos, Smith decided to have contestants pitch one instrument repeatedly into a body of water. A rope tied to the sacrificial banjo will act as a watermark to determine who throws it the farthest, as well as a life-line to draw the instrument back on to land.
Smith added that he will provide contestants with gloves to protect them from the toxins, oil, human waste, and gonorrhea floating in the Venice of Brooklyn. The winner will receive a free banjo, which they can either learn to play or — since they’ve had enough practice already — sling into the canal.
Smith said competitors are free to try any track-and-field technique they want in the banjo toss.
“It’s really freestyle,” said Smith, who personally favors a shot put approach. “If you have an idea how to throw it, go for it.”