Bee friendly – bee there!

Bunbury Music Festival sets up for second year

By: Kate E Lore

Photo: The National will close out Bunbury on Sunday, July 14

Music junkies know where to get the good stuff. They know the dark corners of obscure venues and hidden record stores, the wide-open fields in the middle of nowhere where music festivals tend to happen. A real music die-hard can navigate these maze-like events and find the perfect spot in the front row of their favorite bands every time. Come every summer, Ohioans can be found traveling all across the country for these festivals. Bunbury Music Festival, however, is so close you can hear it in the wind. This Cincinnati-based music festival is in its second year and whether or not you’re an experienced festival veteran or music fan new to the scene, this year’s lineup is too good to miss.

This weekend-long event covers six stages and will have about 80 different bands performing. Some of the early acts will be local, with big name headliners closing each evening. Friday is headlined by FUN., Saturday by MGMT and Sunday by The National. Other notables include Tegan and Sara, Devotchka, Cake, Belle and Sebastian and many more.

Last year was Bunbury’s very first. There were some great headliners and a massive turnout of music fans.

“It was really our intention to kinda get better with what we do this year,” said Bill Donabedian, founder of Bunbury Music Festival. “Kind of refine what we were doing.”

Some notes were taken and a few alterations have been made. No worries to those who loved last year’s show; there’s mostly additions, not subtractions.

“I think the biggest thing that changed this year is the VIP ticket. It’s a pretty cool offering with nice perks,” said Donabedian. “One of the cool things is the all-time access to the front row and main stage. We kind of carved out a little area to the left of the main stage and that is the VIP area. It’s actually a kind of courtyard. To your immediate right [is the] front of the main stage. There is also a small tent that is set aside and it’s air-conditioned, which is really nice.”

Taking a break inside an air-conditioned tent – or even just using the air conditioned bathroom – will be a welcome breath of cool air should this summer day reach its full heat potential. Even if it’s not actually a fiery inferno outside, there are other super cool luxuries VIP ticketholders get to enjoy.

“There are complimentary chair massages, there’s other surprises,” said Donabedian. “We actually have some surprise performances that will be on a small unplugged acoustic-type stage. Some of those artists will [later] be playing on the main stage right where this is happening.”

Even if you don’t end up getting a VIP ticket, Bunbury still promises to take good care of you.

“I think we’re the most fan-friendly event. Of all the things we offer – which is in-and-out privileges, 10 and under free, free water, to free [cell phone] charge invitation – that’s something which makes us unique.” Donabedian said.

When people think of music festivals they tend to picture something like Woodstock with wide-open spaces, maybe a hill, but mostly an area of dirt and mud. Bunbury, however, encompasses the best of Cincinnati, so it’s located at Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove.

“It’s a beautiful park along the river,” said Donabedian. “There are a lot of places where you can get out of the sun, a lot of shaded areas. You can see the river and the skyline.”

Of course, anyone who’s been to Cincinnati knows there is a lot more to this city than trees, flowers and a view. Did you know Cincinnati is the hometown of both Skyline Chili and La Rosa’s Pizza?

“I think we do a really great job of having local food vendors,” said Donabedian. “It’s not a generic music festival – it has a lot of local flavor. That was one of the big things … people should come and experience some exciting new things, see what Cincinnati has to offer.”

If you’ve never been to Cincinnati, let alone a music festival, what are you waiting for?

“I’ve always thought of Dayton as a sister city to Cincinnati because you guys are so close,” admitted Donabedian. “I hope the Dayton market embraces this festival as their own.”

With such a fantastic lineups two years in a row and all the fan oriented aspects of the festival, Bunbury looks to keep getting better and better.

“I’ve always said it quite frankly, we want to be considered one of the best festivals,” said Donabedian. “That might seem strange considering our market because we’re not New York or Chicago or L.A., but that doesn’t mean we can’t be considered one of the better festivals. So we aim to be a mix of great line up, great setting, creature comforts. I think we can put together the right combination to leave festival goers saying, ‘Wow, you should go to Bunbury at least once in your lifetime.’ I know we’ll never be the biggest, but I think we’re on our way to being one of the best.”

Bunbury Music Festival takes place Friday, July 12 through Sunday, July 14, at Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove, 705 East Pete Rose Way in Cincinnati. One day ticket $65, full weekend $130. For additional information on the full band schedule and tickets, visit

Learn more about Kate E Lore and see her web-comics and blog at Kate can be reached at


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