News Column

Funshine Festival features brings music and a midway to Tampa

May 2, 2013

YellowBrix

May 02--At first, the idea was just to stage a music festival.

But the idea morphed into something different as discussions progressed.

"We wanted it to be unique," said David Harb, general manager for Live Nation. "We thought, 'Why not make it a music festival unlike any other?' We didn't it to be a stereotypical, just-another music festival"

The result is Funshine Music Festival this weekend at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. It's the first installment in what organizers hope will be an annual event.

Funshine differs from the myriad other festivals this time of year in the diversity of music acts. There's classic rock from Ted Nugent, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick and Smashing Pumpkins. There's country from Gary Allan and Kix Brooks. There are chart-toppers Phillip Phillips and Train. There are tribute bands doing Rolling Stones, Beatles and AC/DC songs. There are sets by two of the Bradenton area's best new-music bands, Have Gun Will Travel and We the Kings.

"The design was that there was really no one style," Harb said.

Bands play on stages set up all around the fairgrounds, so at some point someone came up with the idea of offering a midway. Organizers Live Nation and the Florida State Fair Authority decided to make the midway as impressive as the music.

"It's the fifth-largest midway in the state," Harb said. (Only the Florida State Fair, the Florida Strawberry Festival and a couple of others are larger.) "There are more than 60 rides. There's a 100-foot Ferris wheel with an LED system. And there's the largest portable metal roller coaster in North America. They're putting it up right now and it's huge."

The midway also includes food trucks and craft beer stands. Cracker Country, the outdoor museum of Florida history at the fairgrounds, will be open with bluegrasss musicians performing throughout the festival.

The festival is distinctly affordable for families. One-day ticket prices are $25 for adults, $15 for youngsters and free for ages 5 and younger. Tickets are good for unlimited rides and music, so a family of four nets a full day of entertainment for $65.

"That's less than a single ticket to Busch Gardens," Harb said. "So mom and dad can go see REO, Styx and Ted Nugent. The kids probably won't want to do that, so they can go and ride the roller coaster or they can go see New Found Glory."

Details: May 3-5, Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. Gates open at 4 p.m. May 3, 11 a.m. May 4-5. Tickets: $25 per day for adults, $15 per day for children 6-11, free for children 5 and younger. Prices increase day of show. Information: funshinefestival.com.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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(c)2013 The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Fla.)

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