New Town Summer Fest returns for summer fun

As the dawn of summer approaches, Summer Fest returns to New Town for a fifth year Saturday with live music, local food and libations to bring the community together.

“It’s really an event for New Town as a whole, to bring people here and have good time,” said Scott Grafton, owner of New Town’s Ironbound Gym and one of the event’s organizers.

This year’s event centers around the Williamsburg Tasting Trail, an assembly of area alcohol producers. Alewerks Brewing Company, Billsburg Brewery, Copper Fox Distillery, Silver Hand Meadery, The Virginia Beer Company and Williamsburg Winery will converge in New Town to showcase their spirits. The array of beers, wine and mead herald a more diverse selection compared with previous iterations of the event, and the emphasis is more local.

“It’s not just your average beer festival. It’s a celebration of what’s going to be available locally,” said Robby Willey, Virginia Beer Company co-founder.

Each business will bring three or more creations to sample, including Silver Hand’s new Raspberry Passion mead, Alewerks’ Hipster Credentials Cherry Berliner Weisse and Williamsburg Winery’s new rose. VBC will debut its new High Heat Summer IPA, a soft and sweet concoction made in combination with Copper Fox’s High Heat Malt.

“It’s just a great way to let people enjoy all of their great samples,” said Corrina Ferguson, destination campaign marketing director for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance.

Willey said the festival provides a unique and safe environment to try different offerings, eliminating the need to drive to the different businesses, which are spread out across Williamsburg, James City and York counties.

Beyond the booze, New Town restaurants Paul’s Deli and Cogan’s Deli will serve food on-site, including hamburgers, barbecue, bratwurst and chicken shawarma. The Michael Clark Band will serenade the crowd with live music.

Grafton said it’s a family-friendly affair, with free admission for those younger than 21 and $5 entry for non-drinkers to enjoy the festive atmosphere.

“If you want to just come hang out and enjoy the afternoon, that’s perfectly fine,” he said.

Previous iterations have seen upwards of 800 attendees. Grafton said weather plays a huge factor in turnout, and rain did put a damper on the festival in 2017. He’s hoping to see at least 600 people come out Saturday.

“It’s in a great central location in the area,” said Ferguson, who added that the event also encourages people to check out other nearby businesses.

Whether you’re interested in the drinks, food, music or the community coming together, Grafton hopes Summer Fest simply offers summer fun.

“We’re just trying to make it a nice afternoon,” he said.

Want to go?

New Town Summer Fest runs 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Sullivan Square, 4301 New Town Ave. Admission is $20 through Friday, $25 Saturday, $5 for non-drinkers and free for those under 21. Visit for tickets.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.

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