Phases of the Moon Festival to bring music, art to Danville

By Rebecca Jacobs

Sam Shear is only 23 years old, but along with his father, Barry, he has co-founded the first Phases of the Moon Music and Art Festival to take place in Danville. Danville’s Kennekuk County Park will be home to the grass-roots festival from Thursday to Sunday.

Shear said that he has a “huge smile on his face” as the festival comes together. The festival is a four-day camping event, and Shear said they are expecting anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 people to attend. Tickets are still available at the Phases of the Moon site, with festival general admission currently running at $250. All festival tickets include free camping.

“It’s the first national event of this magnitude ever held in this area. The difference (between Phases and other festivals) is the setting in scenic Kennekuk Park,” said Jeanie Cooke, executive director of the Danville Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

The Convention and Visitors’ Bureau first approached Shear about hosting the festival in the area. Shear said he liked the centralized location, with many universities within 200 miles of the park. He is hoping that college students will attend the festival.

“By the time September 1 came around, I was looking for something to get me out of school,” Shear said about his time in college. He said he wanted to create a festival that both students and families could get excited about and come to from anywhere.

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Jennifer and Karl Hauser are traveling from much farther than Illinois to attend the festival; they are coming all the way from Louisville, Ky., to celebrate Karl’s 50th birthday at Phases of the Moon.

“The lineup is fantastic and we love a festival atmosphere,” Jennifer said. “The crowds at these types of festivals are usually very friendly, interesting and fun. We think this will be a great mix of people.”

Ben Corum, 26, is driving 14 hours from Charleston, S. C., for the festival. Corum said he likes that there will be no DJs, just live music.

The lineup includes Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, among many others. Performances range from national to more local artists, such as Abnormous and the James Jones Trio. Illinois State Representative Chad Hays and Senator Don Harmon will kick off the event with their band, Boat Drink Caucus.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the shows I possibly can,” said Chelsey Reams. Reams is a 24 year old coming from Lexington, Ky., for the festival. “My dream would be to meet the artists in bands such as Tedeschi Trucks Band, SCI and Widespread Panic, but a girl can only dream.”  

The Phases of the Moon is not just a music festival though. Shear said he is aiming for four components: feel-good music, awe-inspiring artwork, a strong sense of community and a conscious collective.

There will be interactive art performances, including circus groups and acrobatics. Quixotic, named one of the best contemporary circus acts by Men’s Journal magazine, is performing. Plus, there are stationary galleries of art from all over the country.

The festival provides its guests a break from the chaos with its Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was constructed as “an oasis for relaxation and rejuvenation.” The Sanctuary provides space for massage, energy work, sound healing, yoga and meditation, according to the festival’s website. 

Just as the entertainment is both national and local, so is the food. Budweiser is providing beer and craft beers, like the Chicago-based Goose Island, for the beer garden. As far as dining goes, Shear said he wants there to be a farm-to-table feel. Vendors are from all over the country, but Shear decided to include a Phases farmers’ market, providing local fruits, vegetables and cheeses for festival goers.

To minimize trash in the park, the festival is following the motto “leave no trash behind.” 

“Being only new to this area for about a year and a half, I’ve come to love and cherish this park just as much as the locals,” Shear said. “And so we really want to make sure that this is not destroying the park, that we’re helping to boost the economy here in Danville, and at the same time to create something special for everyone.”

Attendees can visit a volunteer booth to get a bag to collect trash throughout the festival. At the end, they can return the trash for points going toward sunglasses or even passes to next year’s festival, according to Shear.

When Shear graduated from Sierra Nevada College two years ago, he wanted to focus on music. With his father Barry having worked in finance and created new businesses for the past 30 years, the father-son duo teamed up with a business plan to create the festival.

“This is not Live Nation coming in putting on a festival,” Shear said. “This is a family of good-loving music lovers.”

The festival has something for everyone, even those whom cannot attend. Phases Radio broadcasts music 24/7, and will stream live performances from the festival, as well as similar musicians to those performing and bands Shear hopes to have at future festivals.

Shear said the festival is not intended to be a one-year event. Shear and his father hope to come back for years to come, continuing to “push boundaries.”

“We have tons of ideas on how to keep expanding, but we have to kind of slow down and see how this first year goes, make sure we’re taking the right steps to make it a successful event so that we can come back year after year.” 

Rebecca can be reached at [email protected].