The inaugural Scrumptious weekend in Williamsburg may have opened up new doors for future events in the downtown area.
Several of the dozen events scheduled during the Scrumptious festival April 25-28 exceeded expected attendance and proved a multiple-day, multiple-event collaborative festival is possible in Williamsburg, said Steve Rose, the event organizer and founder and president of CultureFix.
Rose said the festival, which had events attracting between 100 and 2,000 guests at a time, also proved parking in downtown Williamsburg can be managed effectively for large events.
“It was fantastic — a great weekend,” Rose said.
The main component of the four-day festival was a 60-by-210-foot tent straddling both sides of North Boundary Street near the Stryker Center. The tent included a 60-by-24-foot section of staging that covered the road and made the tent’s interior level with the lawns on each side.
While the behemoth tent closed the road to thru-traffic, Rose said traffic appeared to flow smoothly around the tent. Parking was a couple blocks away in the Prince George Parking Garage.
“Overall, being able to close down a space downtown for that length of time and have very little impact on everyone’s day-to-day was one of the big parts we were trying to prove,” Rose said.
Rose said about 400 people attended the free Slapnation concert the first night of the festival.
Foodapalooza: A Festival of Taste attracted about 425 people, which is “on the high end” of the event’s previous attendance, he said.
Saturday’s Truly Scrumptious event — a new, free event — had about 250 guests. Rose said organizers were unsure how well the event would do, but added he considered it a success. Similarly, the first-ever Young and Hungry seated dinner had 108 ticketed guests, “which was great for the first one of those.”
“Surely we’ll try to reincarnate that if the event happens again,” he added.
Finally, Sunday’s Williamsburg Craft Beer Festival came in at just under 2,000 guests. Last year, the event sold out at 1,300.
“That one we knew would be bigger” because of the larger event space under the tent, he said.
Other than a few strong rainstorms Friday night, the festival went on as-planned. Those rain storms also cancelled Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water festival in Virginia Beach that evening.
None of Friday’s Scrumptious events were cancelled, but the rain delayed some setup for about an hour.
Will Scrumptious be back for next year? It depends on funding.
This year, CultureFix received $15,000 from the Williamsburg Business Council and $5,000 each from James City and York counties.
The organization also used about $10,000 of its $75,000 annual budget to put on Scrumptious, but that fund also supports about 30 other CultureFix events each year.
The event in total cost about $80,000 to come to fruition, Rose said.
If Scrumptious comes back for another year, it could expand, depending on how the Williamsburg Tourism Council chooses to market the area.
Rose believes the festival’s attendance and operational success shows hosting similar events in the future are possible.
“We now know we can do it,” Rose said.