By Noah Petersen
Over the weekend, thousands flocked to an enormous tent and lawn in Williamsburg to eat, drink, listen to music and stay dry — if possible.
The third annual Funhouse Fest presented by the Virginia Arts Festival was held Friday and Saturday on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
Saturday’s lineup included Deva Mahal, Angela on the Arts, The Wood Brothers, Gibb Droll, Amos Lee, Chris Forsyth, and Bruce Hornsby performing alongside the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Together, the musicians formed an eclectic collage of folk, singer-songwriter Americana, blues, country and classical.
Thunderstorms interrupted Hornsby and the Noisemakers mid-set about 8 p.m. Friday, forcing the audience to evacuate and return later for headliner Alison Krauss to take the stage about 9:30 p.m.
When gates opened Saturday, the sun was playing peekaboo behind dark clouds. It then alternated blue skies and light showers.
Alli Pereira, the Virginia Arts Festival public relations manager, said, “I’m always praying to the weather gods.”
Williamsburg Fire Chief Pat Dent said the event staff watches the weather throughout the the event.
“I don’t have any superstitions, really, it’s just about safety,” he said.
Staff checked mobile weather apps multiple times each hour and spoke with the National Weather Service station in Wakefield every 30 minutes.
Dent said it isn’t the rain they were worried about as much as the lightning. Sweating in the humidity, he’d already given up on staying dry.
Around 3:45 p.m., the rain picked up.
Some who brought their own chairs camped out under magnolia trees. Some, like attendant Anne Williams, just got wet.
In her own rainbow beach chair 10 feet from the main tent, Williams sat draped under a blue raincoat.
Umbrellas were not allowed in the venue, so many ponchos were spotted.
Trucks and tents selling local food and craft beer crowded Francis Street at the venue.
Lounging in a baseball cap and tie-dye shirt, chef Jim Kennedy of the food truck Foodatude pointed to a cheese-filled hot dog in his hand.
“Sometimes, people just like the simple things,” he said.
Alewerks Brewing Company served their exclusive American pale ale, called the Noisemaker for Hornsby’s band, at the festival.
Sitting the merchandise tent, among hats, koozies, T-shirts and tapestries, staff member Jo Manley said everything they were selling was cool, but the $5 drink ticket was the hottest item.
On her first visit to Williamsburg, opening act Deva Mahal said she wasn’t ready for the heat.
Peering into her closet earlier, she said she thought, “What can I wear that’s next to nothing, but isn’t, you know, rude?”
Mahal settled on a black tanktop, brown skirt, and a flowing, pink and green kimono-like sweater.
In front of a fan at first, Mahal began to dance across the stage — despite the heat.
After each song, she reached for a bottle of water.
“It’s so hot,” Mahal said.