Monday, August 8, 2022

Colonial Williamsburg asks city to move Summer Breeze concert series to same venue as Funhouse Fest

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

WILLIAMSBURG — Colonial Williamsburg is hoping to relocate and unleash the Summer Breeze concert series.

The organization is “re-imaging” the concert series that runs Wednesday evenings during the summer, said Jeff Duncan, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s vice president of real estate, in a letter to Williamsburg city officials. The letter was made public in city meeting documents.

That involves asking the City of Williamsburg for permission to move the concerts from Merchants Square to the lawn of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at 325 W. Francis St.

“While the past location on Duke of Gloucester Street is enchanting, moving the concerts to the museum lawn and expanding the number of weeks will allow us to enlarge the venue beyond the confines of DoG Street,” Duncan said in his letter. “On many concert evenings [DoG Street] becomes so crowded as to block the entry way to several of the retail shops and take up outdoor seating for extended periods at the restaurants that front the current concert venue.”

He added the Merchants Square Association Marketing Committee supported the move.

Duncan also revealed that the concert series will be rebranded as Summer Breeze – Unleashed.

Duncan said he thinks the concerts will build on the popularity of Funhouse Fest, which is held in front of the Dewitt Wallace museum in late June. He said he expects crowds will be larger than in previous years; past shows were typically attended by a few hundred guests.

“Besides more space, moving the concerts to the museum lawn will also allow us to provide a more comfortable and shaded location for the concerts, plus additional food and beverage options in addition to the restaurants in Merchants Square,” Duncan told WYDaily in an email.

Number of concerts will double

As part of the concert series, a stage and a 30-foot-by-30-foot tent will be set up in front of the museum and remain in place for the entirety of the concert season. Fences will also be installed before and removed after each and every show.

Other changes to the Summer Breeze concerts include increasing their number from eight to 16 throughout the summer. The concerts will also be longer than before, beginning at 6 p.m. rather than 7 and still ending at 9 p.m.

Concerts will feature two musical acts rather than one and will be free and open to the public.

The Summer Breeze concert series features party and military band music on Wednesdays. (FILE/WY Daily)

Colonial Williamsburg is collaborating with CultureFix, which will coordinate food and beverage sales at the venue and oversee concert setup and security. Smaller canopy tents will be set up for food and drink providers.

“We’ve been working with Colonial Williamsburg to look at expanding it and making it better,” said Steve Rose, founder and president of CultureFix.

He added CultureFix has worked to offer a mix of music genres throughout the series, including jazz, blues, rock and reggae.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has filed two requests with the city.

The first request asks the city to change the zoning ordinance to allow outdoor special events (with a special-use permit from the city) in the Historic Area. Colonial Williamsburg also asked for a special-use permit to hold the Summer Breeze — Unleashed concerts on the lawn in front of the Dewitt Wallace museum.

Duncan also asked the City’s Economic Development Authority to sponsor the concert series and to provide between $2,500 and $5,000 of support.

Outside food and nonalcoholic drinks will be allowed in the concert area, but alcoholic beverages must be purchased at the venue.

Parking will be available on Nassau, South Henry and Francis streets.

The proposals will go before the city’s Planning Commission at 3:30 p.m. May 23 at the Stryker Center, 412 N Boundary St.

This summer’s concert lineup was released by CultureFix. Unless otherwise noted, all shows begin at 6 p.m.

June 6: Good Shot Judy

June 13: Slapnation

June 20: Bobby BlackHat Band

June 27: Jacob Vanko Band

July 4: The U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band (4-6 p.m.) & Brasswind (7-9 p.m.)

July 11: Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas

July 18: Buddha Council

July 25: Chisman Creek Band

Aug. 1: The Grey Riders

Aug. 8: The English Channel

Aug. 15: Party Fins

Aug. 22: Air Force Rhythm in Blue

Aug. 29: Brandon Bower Band

Sept. 5: The Raw Beets

Sept. 12: BJ Griffin and the Galaxy Groove

Sept. 19: 504 Supreme & Truetone Honeys

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