From VIP to bystander, Funhouse Fest a hit

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Concertgoers dance on the lawn at Funhouse Fest. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)
Concertgoers dance on the lawn at Funhouse Fest. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)

It’s hard to put a price tag on fun — but at this weekend’s music festival in Williamsburg, the going rate ranged from about $29 to $599.

Funhouse Fest, a three-day outdoor music event staged on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, was the result of a collaboration between Virginia Arts Festival and local musician Bruce Hornsby.

As the first of its kind, the festival’s single-day passes ran from $29.25 to $100, while three-day passes ran from $99.75 to $599, depending on seating and VIP amenities.

With such steep prices for three-day admission, some concertgoers passed on tickets entirely, instead opting to sit or stand just outside the security gates to enjoy the show.

M.J. Medlar, 36, of Virginia Beach served up crabcake, her signature menu item, at Funhouse Fest on Saturday. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)
M.J. Medlar, 36, of Virginia Beach served up crab cake, her signature menu item, at Funhouse Fest on Saturday. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)

Williamsburg resident Bill Raymond said he bought a ticket for the Friday night performances, but after seeing people set up lawn chairs without issue from security officers, he decided to do the same on Saturday and Sunday.

He could see and hear the show just as well from the gated lawn, Raymond said. His only complaint?

 

“There’s just no access to beer or restrooms,” Raymond said.

For those looking for more amenities, the festival’s VIP pass came with star treatment — and a hefty price. Susan Harris, 62, of Hampton has been taking her daughter, Kelly Saunders, to concerts for nearly four decades and this past weekend was no exception.

The two women, along with their husbands, Dawayne Harris, 74, of Hampton and Rob Shelton, 40, of Newport News, were among an elite group of VIP ticket-holders at Funhouse Fest.

VIP guests Susan and Dawayne Harris of Hampton show off a photograph from their meeting with members of the Jack DeJohnette Trio, who took the stage Saturday evening at Funhouse Fest. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)
VIP guests Susan and Dawayne Harris of Hampton show off a photograph from their meeting with members of the Jack DeJohnette Trio, who took the stage Saturday evening at Funhouse Fest. (Adrienne Berard/WYDaily)

“She’s a cool mom,” Saunders laughed, enjoying a beer with her mother inside the VIP lounge.

Harris said that despite living nearby, she and her husband decided to stay at the Williamsburg Lodge during the festival. The couple was one of many who opted to stay in town throughout Funhouse Fest.

Michael Lindbom, guest services manager at Williamsburg Lodge, said the festival “certainly filled” the rooms with both musicians and concertgoers. Typically there is a lull in reservations before the Fourth of July holiday, Lindbom said.

Concertgoers enjoy the shade on the lawn at Funhouse Fest. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)
Concertgoers enjoy the shade on the lawn at Funhouse Fest. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)

“It was pretty good timing to have it this week,” he said. He has already received inquiries from guests who did not come out for the festival this year, but hope to attend if it returns next year.

For Harris, a return trip might be in the cards for next year, but she hopes that next time there will be more funhouse-themed cuisine.

“To be honest, I’m not crazy about the food selection,” she said. “I thought since it’s a circus theme, it would be cool to have circus foods like popcorn, cotton candy, hamburgers and hot dogs. It’s not exactly ‘fun’ food I guess.”

“But don’t worry,” Harris’s husband chimed in. “The beer is great.”