Funhouse Fest brings enthusiasts from near and far

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WILLIAMSBURG — It's not unusual for Virginia Peninsula residents to see Bruce Hornsby strolling through Colonial Williamsburg or attending William and Mary basketball games.

With roots in Williamsburg, locals not only know Hornsby for his popular music but also for whom he's related to.

The staggering attendance and diversity of the crowd at the Funhouse Fest this weekend proved that Hornsby may be a small-town man, but his fans come from all over the country.

Juan Howe, 36, came to Williamsburg from Boston to visit his mother and attend the fest, .

Howe said he's a fan of everything from electronic dance music to rock and thought the lineup looked like a "rocking good time."

From the south, Liam Pendergrass drove six hours from Salisbury, N.C., with a friend to attend the festival. The 20-year-old said the variety of musicians is what "brought me here." He said he enjoyed the low-key atmosphere of the event.

Saturday was a mostly sunny day at the Funhouse Fest, which was held on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Paradise Bistro and Gyro and Kabab King food trucks helped feed a sizable crowd that varied from seasoned festival-goers to families, while beer trucks with offerings from various brewing companies kept revelers refreshed.

Funhouse attendees filtered into the venue steadily about 5 p.m. while event staff helped switch the set onstage from musical group DeJohnette Coltrane Garrison to Railroad Earth.

Prior to the performance, Jack DeJohnette said he hoped the group would "bring joy and healing energy" to the crowd that turned out for Saturday's lineup.

According to Virginia Arts Festival spokesperson Cynthia West, the 1,776 seats under the tent were almost sold out by 5 p.m. Saturday evening, although the venue's lawn could still accommodate many more, she said.

"We're expecting a full house tonight," West said, adding that they had already sold more tickets by 5 p.m. than they did Friday.

On Friday night, Hornsby played a set with Ricky Skaggs. On Saturday night, festival-goers could expect an entirely different show, West said. Taking the stage at 8:45 p.m., Hornsby was expected to play his newest albums "Rehab Reunion," and his 1986 debut album, "The Way It Is" in their entirety.

Gloucester native Butch Edmonds said he watched Hornsby perform at the marina in Gloucester "years ago."

"It's always fun to remember him performing before he hit it big," Edmonds said.

Virginia Arts Festival Financial Director Sandy Robinett hoped the event would engage the people of Williamsburg and bring in tourism. VAF has never produced a multiday festival, Robinett said, making Funhouse Fest a first for the company.

Williamsburg residents Kerry and Bob Holmberg said they frequent Colonial Williamsburg often see Hornsby at W&M basketball games.

"I'd like to see more events in Colonial Williamsburg like this," Bob Holmberg said. "I think it's a positive addition to the usual activities down here."

The Funhouse Fest continues Sunday at 3 p.m. with performances by Hornsby, The Taj Mahal Trio, Aoife O'Donovan and Chessboxer. Gates open at 2 p.m.

Fearing can be reached by phone at 757-298-5838; Jacobs can be reached at 804-269-1769.

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