Why this week’s Bellwether Music Festival should be on your bucket list

It was one of the biggest parties of last summer, and it’s getting ready for a second go.

Bellwether Music Festival has made some significant updates to the event, returning to Renaissance Park in Waynesville Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 8 through 10.

“Last year, we were outside of the grounds of the Renaissance Festival and this year we’re actually inside so we’re embracing the setting,” organizer Bill Donabedian said. “We want Bellwether to be an experience like no other so there are a lot of things happening throughout the day.”

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New this year is full-contact, rock ’n’ roll jousting and movie screenings in the campers’ village at 11 p.m. each night. Other activities include a late-night silent disco, a dark carnival maze, morning yoga and stand-up comedy.

“We’re never going to go out and book the Foo Fighters or something like that,” said Donabedian, founder of Cincinnati festivals Bunbury and Midpoint. “It just doesn’t make sense so we have to create an atmosphere where this becomes a bucket list festival because it’s different and fun and has a great lineup.”

First and foremost, Bellwether is about the music. There are headliners like Beach House, Cake, Cold War Kids and Guided By Voices, with a solid undercard with Twin Shadow, Real Estate, Pinback, Black Moth Super Rainbow and others.

For Bellwether, Donabedian partnered with Patrick Ryan, who books Daryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y.

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“It’s a boutique festival,” Donabedian said. “It’s well-curated. Patrick really did a fantastic job this year of painting that great picture that tells a story with two amazing days of music. If you’re a true music geek, you’re really going to get into this event.

Attendance for 2018 was about 6,000 people per day. Donabedian expects a larger turnout this year.

“We would’ve done a little better if we hadn’t had challenging weather on Friday,” he said. “That impacted a lot of things. We expect our attendance to be a little better this year. We’re ahead of where ticket sales were last year so it’ll be a comfortable crowd.”

Credit: Matt Cowan

Credit: Matt Cowan

Also new for 2019, is the free pre-party on Thursday.

“If you’re coming to the festival on Friday and Saturday, or if you just live in the Waynesville area, you should come on over,” Donabedian said. “We’ve got stuff going all night with bands and then a comedy show at 10 o’clock. After that, we’ve got Year of the Buffalo doing a nice acoustic set from 11:30 until 1 in the morning. If you want to hang out with us and have some fun before the festival starts, please join us.”

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Here’s a look at the performers and the schedule:


Thursday’s Pre-fest Party (Aug. 8)

6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. — Blues Power @ 1572

8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. — AJ & The Woods @ Shipwreck

10 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. — Comedy Show @ Shipwreck

• Headliner: Kevin Downey, Jr.

• Middle: Mark Riccadonna

• Opener/Host: Joshua Ryan

11:30 p.m. - 1 a.m. — Year of The Buffalo @ 1572

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Friday's After Party (Aug. 9) 

11 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. — TOBACCO @ Shipwreck (TOBACCO is the DJ version of Black Moth Super Rainbow)

12:30 a.m.-3 a.m. — Silent Disco @ Campers’ Village

Saturday's After Party (Aug. 10) 

11 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. — STRFKR DJ SET @ Shipwreck

12:30 a.m.-3 a.m. — Silent Disco @ Campers’ Village


Performers at Bellwether 2019 include Beach House, Cake, Cold War Kids, Guided By Voices, Twin Shadow, STRFKR, Real Estate, Pinback, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Caroline Rose, Sego, Arlie, The Brook & The Bluff, Katie Pruitt, Hailey Knox, Eldren, Quiet Hollers, Young Heirlooms, Multimagic, R. Ring, Saint Aubin, Fern Murphy, Frederick The Younger and Souther.

Dayton will be well-represented. Guided by Voices is an indie rock band formed by Robert Pollard out of Dayton in 1983. R. Ring features Kelley Deal, who was part of ‘90s rock band The Breeders alongside her sister Kim Deal, both from Dayton.

The festival will also feature full contact rock n’ roll jousting and other Ohio Renaissance Festival inspired experiences.

The inaugural event in 2018 included MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Local Natives, Echo & The Bunnymen, Dr. Dog, The Psychedelic Furs, Whitney, Allah-Las, Japanese Breakfast, Bob Schneider, Erika Wennerstrom, Alex Lahey, Dawg Yawp, Speaking Suns, The Cordial Sins and Carriers.


Bellwether Music Festival: Aug. 9-10, 2019 – Gates open at noon. Music starts at 2 p.m. Music ends by 11 p.m.

Bellwether Camping: Load-in for camping starts at noon on Thursday, Aug.8, 2019. Load-out completed by 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019.

Renaissance Park Ohio: 10542 East State Route 73, Waynesville, Ohio 45068


$59 per day general admission, $99 for two-day general admission pass. VIP, camping, glamping and RV packages are available. Learn more about ticket options and purchase tickets online here.


Friday, Aug. 9

02:00 P.M. —Eldren (Shipwreck Stage)

02:00 P.M. — Frederick The Younger (Acoustic Stage)

02:45 P.M. — Caroline Rose (Sunset Stage)

03:30 P.M. — The Brook & The Bluff (Shipwreck Stage)

03:30 P.M. — Saint Aubin (Acoustic Stage)

04:00 P.M. — Rock-N-Roll Joust (Jousting Arena)

04:30 P.M. — Twin Shadow (Sunset Stage)

05:45 P.M. — Arlie (Shipwreck Stage)

05:45 P.M. — Quiet Hollers (Acoustic Stage)

06:45 P.M. — Cold War Kids (Sunset Stage)

08:00 PM — Rock-N-Roll Joust (Jousting Arena)

08:30 PM — Real Estate (Shipwreck Stage)

08:30 PM — Katie Pruitt (Acoustic Stage)

09:15 PM — Cake  (Sunset Stage)

11:00 PM — Afterpary (Shipwreck Stage)

Saturday, Aug. 10

02:00 PM — Fern Murphy (Shipwreck Stage)

02:00 PM — Souther (Acoustic Stage)

02:45 PM — Black Moth Super Rainbow (Sunset Stage)

03:30 PM — Multimagic (Shipwreck Stage)

03:30 PM — R. Ring (Acoustic Stage)

04:00 PM — Rock-N-Roll Joust (Jousting Arena)

04:30 PM — STRFKR (Sunset Stage)

05:45 PM — Sego (Shipwreck Stage)

05:45 PM — Young Heirlooms (Acoustic Stage)

06:45 PM — Guided By Voices (Sunset Stage)

08:00 PM — Rock-N-Roll Joust (Jousting Arena)

08:30 PM — Pinback (Shipwreck Stage)

08:30 PM — Hailey Knox (Acoustic Stage)

09:15 PM — Beach House (Sunset Stage)

11:00 PM — Afterpary (Shipwreck Stage)


Website: bellwetherfest.com

Facebook: facebook.com/bellwetherfest/ 

Twitter: @bellwetherfest

Instagram: instagram.com/bellwetherfest/

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