Funhouse Fest offers three-day musical experience in Williamsburg

jojacobs@vagazette.com
Parking location is determined based on what kind of ticket an attendee holds.

Brews, blues and Bruce Hornsby – that's what Funhouse Fest is all about.

The three-day music festival will be held on the lawn of the Art museums of Colonial Williamsburg Friday through Sunday, bringing the fun of an intimate outdoor music festival to the Colonial capital for the first time.

A local boy and seasoned musician, Hornsby will bring together some of the bluegrass, folk and blues artists he's toured with during his career, said Virginia Arts Festival Production Director Gregg Damanti.

And in a nod to Williamsburg's Colonial legacy, the founding festival's event tent will hold 1,776 seats.

Funhouse Fest isn't just a music festival; it's a gathering of friends, said festival spokeswoman Cynthia West anticipates will attend.

"This is more of an experience than seeing a two-hour show," Damanti said.

Outdoor shows bring together a variety of people from older fans jamming to their favorite performers to families introducing their kids to the music for the first time, Damanti said.

"It's a great way to stumble into (music) you've never heard before," said Jonathan Newman, a veteran festival-goer and brewmaster at Williamsburg's Virginia Beer Co.

Newman and his partners-in-beer Chris Smith and Robby Willey are attending the festival, and have planned a pre-party at the brewery before the fun begins.

The trio will host live music and serve craft beers in their beer garden on Friday from noon to 6 p.m. allowing festival goers to kick back and enjoy themselves in true pre-game fashion.

On the menu is a community favorite – Deadbolt, a juicy, full-bodied double IPA that pays homage to the Grateful Dead -- Hornsby played more than 100 shows with the band.

"It's a way to celebrate Bruce Hornsby and celebrate the community," Smith said.

Whether you're planning on heading to the festival or trying to avoid it all together, here are some details you need to know:

Getting there

Funhouse Fest takes place on the lawn in front of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, 325 France St. West. Parking is in two nearby locations, based on ticket type.

Non-elite ticket holders should park in the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center lot and take shuttles to the event. Colonial Williamsburg buses will ferry attendees to and from the event for free, wrote Andy Barker, deputy chief of Williamsburg Police in an email.

Event shuttles will load and unload attendees at the bus stop at South Henry and Duke of Gloucester streets, Baker said. Shuttle service is available 9 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday, according to organizers. Elite ticket holders should park in the designated VIP parking lot on Nassau Street.

Attendees can also opt for bicycle transportation. There are bike racks around the city and festival area as part of an overall biking and walking initiative by the city, Williamsburg spokesperson Lee Ann Hartmann said.

Reentry to the event is allowed, so attendees have the opportunity to enjoy Colonial Williamsburg and stake out a seat before the show starts, Damanti said.

Barker recommends attendees arrive before the festival opens every day.

The event's security detail is extensive. According to Barker, RMC event security, Colonial Williamsburg security guards and officers of the Williamsburg Police Department will be on duty at the event. Bags used to transport lawn chairs, purses, backpacks and handbags will be inspected at entrances.

What to bring

Blankets, limited to beach-towel size.

Cash. Alcohol vendors will only accept cash payment. No ATM's are on site.

Cushions.

Lawn chairs (if sitting in lawn seating).

Sun screen.

What to leave at home

Banners and signs.

Coolers.

Flammable items, such as candles, fireworks or lanterns.

Hula hoops.

Lawn chairs with a backrest higher than 32 inches measured from the ground or chairs with legs taller than 17 inches.

Lawn chairs that recline, hold umbrellas or have foot extensions.

Outside food and beverages.

Pets.

Umbrellas.

Weapons.

Filling your plate

Festival goers have access to several food and beverage options during the event. Elite ticket packages include usage of a VIP food tent. The tents will offer for sale a Mission BBQ menu, craft beers and wine, said West. Outside food, drinks and coolers are prohibited.

There is also a food tent for those with non-elite tickets. This tent will offer barbecue, crab cakes, watermelon and other items for purchase provided by William and Mary Catering, West said. Alcoholic beverages will also be available.

At least three food trucks and several beer trucks will also be on site. According to the event's website, Gerty's Gourmet Kitchen, New York Souvlaki and Paradise Bistro are confirmed, but may not be on site through the entire weekend. . West said that it is possible that more food trucks will serve the event. Budweiser and Bud Light beer trucks will be on site, as will craft brewers AleWerks and Tradition.

The website provides a list of restaurant suggestions in Williamsburg.

Taking the stage

Greensky Bluegrass takes the stage at 7:15 p.m. Following the Americana outfit comes Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs alongside Kentucky Thunder with a barrage of bluegrass tunes at 8:45 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m. on Friday.

On Saturday, trio Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison take the stage at 4 p.m. Railroad Earth starts its set at 5:15 p.m., and is followed by Americana duo Shawn Colvin and Steven Earle at 7 p.m. The night closes with Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers at 8:45 p.m. The band will play the entirety of its albums "The Way It Is" and "Rehab Reunion." Gates open at 1 p.m.

On Sunday, Chessboxer plays at 3 p.m., followed by Aoife O'Donovan at 4:15 p.m. Taj Mahal Trio lays down some blues tracks at 5:30 p.m. Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers round out the night with a more varied set list at 7:15 p.m. The gates open at 1 p.m. on the festival's final day.

Buying tickets

Buy tickets at funhousefest.com, the Virginia Arts Festival Box Office located at 440 Bank St. Norfolk, or by calling 757-282-2822.

An on-site box office will sell tickets starting at 3 p.m. on Friday and noon Saturday and Sunday. Three-day passes and single-day tickets are available. Three-day passes run from $99.75 to $297.75; prices vary based on seating.

Children under 6 are free in the lawn seating area. Any child in a reserved seat must have a ticket. Babies cannot be carried in the elite package tent areas.

Festival-goers can take advantage of Elite Experience Packages as well. A Tent Gold Circle Premium Package provides reserved seating, premium parking, VIP tent access and VIP restrooms as well as artist meet and greets as available. Tent Gold Circle VIP Package, priced at $449, provides reserved seating, premium parking, VIP tent access and VIP restrooms. Premium parking is located on Nassau Street. Those with any other ticket park at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center. A shuttle service will be available to transport festival goers to and from the event, the website states. Shuttle service is available 9 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Adrienne Mayfield contributed to this story. Contact Jacobs at 804-269-1769.

If you're looking for something else to do

Big crowds and Bruce Hornsby not your thing? There are plenty of other events to enjoy in the Historic Triangle this weekend.

Road closures and traffic: Starting at noon on Friday the Williamsburg Police Department will close Francis Street, from the intersection of South Henry Street to Nassau Street. The road will reopen on Sunday at midnight, said Williamsburg spokeswoman Lee Ann Hartmann. Newport Avenue is the main detour route around the festival. Deputy Police Chief of Williamsburg Police Department Andy Barker said it shouldn't be difficult to travel around the event, but for motorists to expect moderate traffic on Henry and Nassau streets. The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority bus spot outside the Art museums of Colonial Williamsburg will be closed, Barker said.

Other weekend events:

Williamsburg Farmers Market

The festival won't stop Williamsburg's twice-a-week farmers market. This week happens to be the 14th anniversary of the market, and to celebrate the first 200 customers will get a free cupcake. The market's 40-plus vendors offer a variety of produce, meats and items like handmade soap. An ice cream making demo will be at the market as well.

When: June 25, 8 a.m. to noon

Where: 402 West Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg.

Busch Gardens and Wine on the Rhine

Travel to new heights on Busch Garden's roller coasters or catch one of the theme park's eight shows. Later, indulge in wine, fruit, cheese and chocolate while listening to music during the Rhine River Cruise. A day pass to the theme park is $77, and Wine on the Rhine is an additional $25. When: June 24, 25, 26

Where: 1 Busch Gardens Blvd., Williamsburg.

Watermen's Museum Yorktown Music Jamboree

Move your feet and get something to eat this small town music festival. Friday, June 24, marks the last day for locals to enjoy live music along the York River and Watermen's Museum at the Yorktown Music Jamboree. Cost of entry is $10.

When: June 24, 6 to 9 p.m.

Where: 309 Water St., Yorktown.

Watercolor Exhibit at the Gallery at York Hall

Get inspired at this free art show by local artists and water color paintings by Hazel Camp. The gallery will have art, jewelry and pottery for sale.

When: June 24, 25

Where: 301 Main St., Yorktown.

Yorktown Market Days

Pick up a bouquet of fresh cut flowers, home-made bread or locally grown produce at this small-town farmers market. The market is home to more than 35 local farmers, vendors and artists.

When: June 25, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: 331 Water St., Yorktown.

Freedom Park Nature Walk

This Saturday embark on a walking tour of the park to learn about local plants, butterflies and birds. Participants must be 16 or older. Bringing binoculars is encouraged. The event has free admission.

When: June 25

Where: 5537 Centerville Road, Williamsburg

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