Bunbury/Buckle Up founder Bill Donabedian: Creating music festivals in Cincinnati for 12 years

'Creating the moment when 10,000 people roar'

CINCINNATI—Bill Donabedian runs his professional life from a spartan storefront office in a block of Over-the-Rhine awaiting renewal. It couldn’t have taken more than an hour to set things up—there are only two short rows of desks and chairs—and the office could be cleared just as quickly.

It’s a metaphor for Donabedian’s attention span: When he hits upon an idea, he dives in with abandon, but even while the project is in full bloom, Donabedian is working on the next great thing.

“I live for everything up to the event. Once the event happens, I want to go to bed,” he said.

The event, in this instance, is the Bunbury Festival, the three-day extravaganza Donabedian debuted three years ago. More than 80 indie-rock bands and solo artists are performing on six stages July 11-13 at Cincinnati’s Sawyer Point, and organizers expect more than 25,000 people there. The following weekend, July 18-20, Donabedian and his associates debut the country music festival Buckle Up, also at Sawyer Point.

Nobody without an instrument in hand has done more to create that roar in Cincinnati than Donabedian.

“My rush is creating something that didn’t exist, creating the moment when 10,000 people roar for a band,” Donabedian said.

Become a WCPO Insider to learn more about Bill Donabedian and how he gave Cincinnati its largest indie-music festivals and what may come next.


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