Patty Pershayla, Roosevelt Diggs, Nicholas Thomasma, Elijah Russ, Nathan Walton, Josh Rose and more will heat up the lakeshore for the resumption of the popular festival. The schedule and details.
Volkswagen bus owner and singer-songwriter Nicholas James Thomasma views members of Buses by the Beach as family.
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So, the return of the organization’s popular Bus Benefit for the first time since 2019 — canceled for two years due to the COVID pandemic — represents a reunion of the highest order.
“To be honest, I’m not sure if I’m more excited to perform or more excited for the hang. The thing about Buses by the Beach is that it’s not just a festival,” Thomasma said.
“Buses by the Beach is a community. I miss my bus family tremendously and can’t quite explain the feeling that is leading up to this weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to just sit around the bus, chill, drink a few beers, grill some food, talk shop and listen to live music.”
There will be plenty of all of the above when the Memorial Day weekend festival rolls out starting Friday at Camp Blodgett in West Olive, along the lakeshore between Grand Haven and Holland at 10330 Lakeshore Drive.
From well-known West Michigan acts such as Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps, Roosevelt Diggs and Josh Rose to up-and-coming artists Nathan Walton & The Remedy, Elijah Russ Collective and Ernie Clark & The Magnificent Bastards, the weekend event boasts an eclectic blend of performers, with hundreds of VW bus owners expected along with folks just embracing the live music.
“Making the decision to not hold the 2020 and 2021 events was quite gut wrenching for the Buses By the Beach board of directors. The Buses By the Beach group of people is a true family, a really huge family,” said Beth Smith, Buses by the Beach president.
“We have a culture of shared love of music, love of VW buses and love of each other. To not be together for the last two years has been very hard for all of us. You know how being somewhere where you are truly happy recharges your physical, emotional and mental battery? Buses By the Beach Bus Benefit does that for us all.”
The long-running festival also raises money for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, so Smith said organization members were hit “twice as hard to not be able to donate to the extent we’re used to.”
As one of the first music festivals of the summer each year, the gathering also draws lots of non-VW bus owners who just want to kick back, relax and revel in Michigan-bred music. Saturday and Sunday day passes, $65, are available online here; sales of weekend gate passes with camping start at 4 p.m. Thursday. (Pre-sale weekend passes are no longer available.)
In addition to live music, the weekend features family activities — including an elevated ropes adventure course, rock painting, tie-dyeing and hula hoop-making — a raffle and silent auction, and opportunities to hike nature trails.
The festival’s unique vibe centers around the 150-plus VW buses expected in the campground, along with a fair number of dogs. “And don’t forget that you can walk across the street and dip your toes in Lake Michigan,” added Thomasma.
View Local Spins coverage of previous Bus Benefits.
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