Monday, May 23, 2022

Funhouse Fest is on hiatus in 2019, but there will be another music festival in its place

Bruce Hornsby performs with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, June 23, 2018, on the closing day of Funhouse Fest in downtown Williamsburg. (Bryan DeVasher/WYDaily)
Bruce Hornsby performs with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, June 23, 2018, on the closing day of Funhouse Fest in downtown Williamsburg. (WYDaily/Bryan DeVasher)

Bruce Hornsby won’t be a part of Funhouse Fest in 2019, but as they say, the show must go on.

Funhouse Fest won’t be back in 2019, but its presenters say there will be another music festival on the lawns of Colonial Williamsburg next June to take its place.

Hornsby has headlined Funhouse Fest since it debuted in 2016. Last week he announced he will be working on “some ambitious new projects” and will not participate in the music festival in 2019.

Representatives from event presenter and planner Virginia Arts Festival said they are planning another show to take Funhouse Fest’s place on the calendar.

“We’re not going away, there will be an event,” said Rob Cross, executive director for Virginia Arts Festival. “Bruce just wanted to take a break from it.”

It will be presented under another name, as ‘Funhouse’ was the title of one of Bruce’s songs released in 1998.

“We want to keep that name for when Bruce is involved,” Cross said.

While Hornsby won’t be involved, Cross said the 2019 music festival will bear many similarities to Funhouse Fest, including a two-day format in June on the lawn in front of the Arts Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

The same co-presenters have signed on as well, Cross said, including Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the City of Williamsburg, and Visit Williamsburg.

Just like Funhouse Fest, next June’s festival will feature headliners with wide appeal on both nights Friday and Saturday. Cross said he and his team are in the beginning stages of booking acts for the festival and hope to announce a lineup by January or February.

“I have my wishlist and now we’re finding out if they’re touring and interested,” Cross said. “It’s still going to be great American artists that have wide audience. The goal is still to have the level of artists that people will want to travel to Williamsburg for.”

The Virginia Arts Festival exists to draw crowds to Southeast Virginia in the late spring and early summer. Late June is an excellent time for a music festival, Cross said, because it’s after William & Mary’s graduation and before peak tourism season in Colonial Williamsburg.

“For Funhouse Fest, for a large part of the attendees, you obviously have locals who love Bruce and the festival, but because of the artists, a lot of ticket sales are from out of market,” he said.

Cross told City Council the music festival generated nearly $675,000 in 2018, including more than $368,000 in ticket revenue and more than $50,000 in food and beer sales. Roughly 7,400 people attended in 2018.

Festival attendees came from 32 states in 2018, said Alli Pereira, Virginia Arts Festival spokeswoman. More than half of the tickets for were bought out of market and more than 2,000 hotel rooms were booked in conjunction with Funhouse Fest.

“It was successful, that’s obviously why we’re going to continue it,” Cross said. “Bruce was key to helping us get it off the ground and getting it this far. So, we’re very grateful for that.”

WYDaily Assistant Editor Sarah Fearing contributed to this report.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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