Manassas Jazz Festival: Some Winds of Change for Annual Event

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By Helena Tavares Kennedy

Enjoy samplings of local beers and spirits.

For 12 years, Manassas has organized and hosted an entertaining afternoon full of wines from local Virginia wine artisans and talented jazz musicians. But this year will be different. Instead of the 13th Annual Wine & Jazz Festival, this year’s event, scheduled for June 18th, is called the 13th Annual Manassas Jazz Festival.

Why the name change? Have you noticed there are several local craft breweries popping up all over the Prince William County region, including Manassas, and the craft beer industry has been growing? Did you know about the new distilleries in town, too?

While it started as a Father’s Day event 13 years ago to celebrate and promote the growing local wine industry, the event has expanded to support the wide variety of local industries that have grown as the population and diversity in the region has increased.

Brittany Bowman, marketing and assistant events coordinator for Historic Manassas, which organizes the event every year, said, “We wanted to incorporate the local craft beers and new distilleries in Virginia as well as the always popular Virginia farm wines.

Old Favorites Merge with New Varieties

Some things won’t change for the jazz festival, however. There will still be entertaining jazz musicians, specialty craft vendors, and delicious offerings from Virginia wineries and Historic Manassas restaurants, so you can still enjoy your favorites from past years while sampling some of the new beers and spirits from the region.

There will be an estimated 12 to 15 wineries at the jazz festival, along with 7 to 10 local craft breweries. One of the breweries in town, BadWolf Brewing Company, participated in the festival last year and will be there again this year. Operating since 2013, BadWolf will bring one or more of their four flagship brews to the festival, which would include Jesse’s Girl Amber Ale, Aces High, Mother Pucker or Kaiju IPA, as well as an experimental brew that you’ll just have to go to the festival to discover.

“We love being at the festivals close to our home base. My husband and I grew up in Manassas, and we love supporting our community with fine libations handcrafted around the corner,” said Sarah Meyers, co-founder of BadWolf with her husband, Jeremy. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people at the festival who haven’t tried our beer, and personally, I look forward to the bonsai exhibit.”

Gordonsville-based Horton Winery has been at the festival since it started 13 years ago and will be a part of the 2017 one as well. Neil Glaser, marketing director for Horton Vineyards, said, “We love the Father’s Day atmosphere and the incredibly talented musicians and always find that we’ve made many new friends at the end of the day.”

Mattaponi Winery, located in Spotsylvania, has been a vendor at the festival for at least five years and will be there again, offering up its five varietal wines for pouring. Mattaponi Founder/Owner Janette Evans said, “We look forward to it every year because it is such a wonderful festival to bring our international and national award-winning wines to, but people also look for our 100-percent fruit wine. Wineries are fruit-flavoring their grapes, but we are one of the few wineries that does not.” Evans also noted that they attract a lot of customers for their specialty wines and sangria club.

For entertainment, there are three talented acts booked so far—Kitty and the Fat Cats, the Dave Wilson Quartet, and the headliner, jazz keyboardist Marcus Johnson. “I look forward to performing at the Manassas [festival]each year,” said Johnson. “For the past 10 years, the date has been reserved on my calendar. It has been great to see families develop, kids grow up, and to know that my participation is anticipated each year. As a wine brand owner and entrepreneur myself, it’s an honor to build relationships with consumers. So, you can imagine I’m overwhelmed by the fact that I’ve been able to establish a relationship with the whole city of Manassas. May we have many more years together.”

“We look forward to it every year. This is the way my husband likes to spend his Father’s Day: great music, wines and plenty of vendors. A fun family Sunday afternoon or picnic if you want,” said Carla Roberts of Manassas.

The Manassas Jazz Festival brings in an average of 3,000 to 3,500 people each year, so the event’s four staff members and 20-30 volunteers are very much needed to help organize and manage the fun event.

What Are You Waiting For?

The annual Father’s Day event is great for the whole family, not just fathers. While only those age 21 and over can sample local Virginia wines, beers and spirits, everyone can enjoy the incredible live jazz music and craft shopping. You are encouraged to bring your lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the event on the Manassas Museum lawn.

The 13th Annual Manassas Jazz Festival will be held on June 18th from 12:00 p. m. to 7:00 p. m. at the Manassas Museum at 9101 Prince William Street in Manassas. Since this is an outdoor event, the rain date in case of severe weather is June 25th. See for tickets, cost and other details.

Helena Tavares Kennedy (, a longtime Prince William County resident, is a freelance writer and communications consultant at and


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