This weekend’s Spirit Fest will be a celebration of music, art and food hosted by The Jam: Gainesville and Heartwood Soundstage.
When it came time for the venue to close its doors last year, The Jam, formerly located at 817 W University Ave., said goodbye to Gainesville in true rock ’n’ roll fashion — with a three-day music festival known affectionately as Spirit Fest. This weekend, Spirit Fest is returning to Gainesville.
“This year’s Spirit Fest, no doubt, is a reunion,” said former owner of The Jam, Blake Briand. “We’re going to kind of come haunt Gainesville benevolently for a weekend and give our friends and our family a place to come back and reminisce.”
On Friday and Saturday, 42 musical acts will descend on Gainesville alongside nearly 25 art and clothing vendors, several food vendors and surprise art installations. The festival will take place at Heartwood Soundstage and in the entirety of the Historic Baird Center across from Depot Park. Headliners will be Holey Miss Moley, Groove Orient, Electric Kif, Displace, Savi Fernandez and Applebutter Express. Visit The Jam: Gainesville Facebook page for a full lineup.
“We’re doing one less day, but we’re doing both days more extravagant,” Briand said. “We’ve got a lot more art installations and it’s turning out to be an incredible thing.”
As for now, these art installations remain top secret. No names or photos have been released. However, Briand said to keep an eye on Facebook for teaser videos that may hint toward some of the surprises that Spirit Fest has to offer. The event will be family friendly with activities for all ages.
“We’re going to have a lot of really cool interactive things,” Briand said. “We’re going to have a bounce house. We’re going to have this big sand, Etch A Sketch kind of table. We’re going to have some sciencey neat things to look at, great vendors, lots of art.”
Briand said that he made the decision to bring Spirit Fest back for a second year thanks to a Facebook memory. When the anniversary of the festival arrived, a photo emerged of a rainbow shining over the original Spirit Fest. This memory made the decision for him. Briand announced the return of Spirit Fest on the spot.
“I wanted to feel that again. I wanted The Jam to be alive again and people to enjoy it again,” Briand said. “For me it’s a return to my passion. It’s something that I love, after kind of healing over the (closing of The Jam).”
Weekend passes can be purchased online for $25 or for $30 at the door. Day passes for Friday and Saturday are only available at the door for $15 and $20, respectively. Special VIP packages are also available for $75 for the full weekend. Deals on these prices may also be found with certain local businesses and bands.
VIP packages include free craft beer for the weekend, dinner at Dragonfly on Saturday, first-come-first-serve VIP parking and two exclusive performances. VIP guests can attend a performance with Ricky Kendall and Friends at 6 p.m. Friday. Saturday, the Juan Rollan Quartet will perform John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” in its entirety.
“I remembered saying, ‘We’re going to pop up every now and then and sprinkle unicorn dust on Gainesville,’ and that’s what we’re doing,” Briand said.