Bunbury Music Festival 2017: What's new, what's the same and what to know

CINCINNATI – The Bunbury Music Festival will return for its sixth year to Yeatman’s Cove and Sawyer Point this weekend with new and familiar elements, according to organizer PromoWest Productions.

PromoWest president and CEO Scott Stienecker said his company is reintroducing an all-acoustic stage to the festival while maintaining an overall lineup geared toward a millennial crowd as it has in years past. He also promised other new elements that will keep the festival fresh for past attendees and enjoyable for everyone.

Bunbury Music Festival

Gates open noon Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday
Sawyer Point and Yeatman's Cove
Information at bunburyfestival.com.


“Just the energy of the whole weekend is going to be phenomenal,” Stienecker said.

What's new?

The Southwest Sound Stage: After buying Bunbury from founder Bill Donabedian in 2014, PromoWest reduced the number of festival stages from four to three, eliminating a small acoustic venue in Sawyer Point. Stienecker said that stage will return, with Southwest Airlines as a sponsor, and about four local musicians will perform on it daily. The stage will be located near the Braxton Brewing Craft Beer Village, another “new” feature of the festival this year.

Braxton Brewing Craft Beer Village: The Covington-based brewery is now the main sponsor of the craft beer village, located near the Purple People Bridge. Braxton marketing director Jonathon Gandalf said beer fans can expect to see a greater emphasis on local craft brews in the village this year.

Buzz: Gandalf said Braxton’s owners got so excited about the partnership with Bunbury they created “Buzz,” a one-of-a-kind beer for the festival.

“We thought, 'What if we went all in and created our own Bunbury beer?' So we started brewing before talking to PromoWest. Better to ask for permission than forgiveness,” he said. 

Braxton's honey-and-peach-infused light beer will be on tap at the festival and is currently available in cans at local Kroger stores for a limited time.

New times: The gates for the festival will open an hour earlier on all three days: at noon on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Paper tickets and cash: This one isn’t so much new as it is retro. In January, PromoWest announced it would not bring back the cashless payment system using radio frequency identification device (RFID) wristbands that it introduced last year. The RFID wristbands also served as tickets for entry.

The festival is resuming use of paper tickets, admission wristbands and direct cash purchases from vendors on-site as in years past. That also means there will be ATMs on site again this year.

“The interactive wristbands were a success in many ways for us, but the feedback from our fans was that [the] prior year’s system was the better experience,” said Megan Doster, marketing director for PromoWest.

What’s the same?

The stages: Sponsorship names may have changed, but the festival’s main three stages will be pretty much in the same places as last year. Those stages will be located near the Southgate-Taylor Bridge in Yeatman's Cove, along the Serpentine Wall on the Ohio River and on the main lawn just behind the entrance to Sawyer Point near the I-71 bridge. Also in the same places will be the entrances, which are located near the Southgate-Taylor Bridge and the main entrance to Sawyer Point just past the Purple People Bridge. VIP seating also will be in the same places (near the main stages at Yeatman's Cove and Sawyer Point). The craft beer village again will be located next to the Purple People Bridge.

The spirit of the festival: As Stienecker mentioned, this year’s performers were brought together to appeal to millennials. Those acts include Saturday headliners Pretty Lights Live and Bassnectar. 

“It’s a pretty big deal that the two are playing out together,” Stienecker said.

Also as in years past, performances tend to cluster around certain genres of music, he added. Friday is more hip-hop influenced with headliners Wiz Khalifa and G-Eazy; Saturday is more geared toward electronic and dance; and Sunday leans more toward rock, with Muse closing out the festival, Stienecker said.

Tips for enjoying the festival

Show up early: Even with expanded entry points, it is still worth arriving earlier than planned. Gates open at noon Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Map out your day: Use the music schedule Bunbury released in advance to plan which acts you absolutely have to see. Check the full schedule here.

Watch the weather: Dress accordingly. Wear sunblock and bring bug spray. You also might want to pack a poncho in case of rain; umbrellas are prohibited.

Plant a flag: OK, not really, but plan times and meet-up spots with friends, in case your group gets separated or wants to see different performances.

Reserve parking: Parking spots can be reserved through Parking Panda.

Rent a locker: If you're planning to stay the full day at Bunbury, it might be wise to rent a locker once you go through the entrance gate. Bonus: Each locker doubles as a cellphone charging station.

What can you bring?

One sealed 20-ounce bottle of water, empty plastic bottles and CamelBaks are allowed. You can fill empty plastic bottles and CamelBaks at the free water stations.

What can't you bring?

  • Weapons of any kind
  • Illegal substances (including narcotics) or drug paraphernalia
  • Aerosol (spray) sun screen or aerosol can of any kind
  • Framed or large backpacks, oversized bags
  • Selfie sticks, monopods, tripods
  • Long lens or detachable lens cameras
  • Chairs
  • Alcohol
  • Glass containers
  • Food or beverages
  • Coolers
  • Skateboards, inline skates, bicycles, carts, Segways, scooters or personal motorized vehicles
  • Large chain or spiked jewelry or clothing
  • Hula hoops
  • Musical instruments
  • Inflatables
  • Stickers
  • Flyers
  • CDs
  • Fireworks or explosives
  • Laser pointers
  • Umbrellas
  • Tents
  • Pets (except for service dogs)
  • Video equipment
  • Drones
  • Professional still cameras and equipment
  • Audio recording equipment
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