Will Russell wants everyone to know he’s OK and that all three of his businesses — Why Louisville, Lebowski Festival, and Funtown Mountain — are in the good hands of employees. That was the general takeaway from an interview that began this morning at the IL offices and culminated just up the street at Russell’s Butchertown home.
Questions about Russell’s well-being and the future of Funtown Mountain arose last week following Russell’s July 11 arrest on charges of marijuana possession, resisting arrest and menacing at Lebowski Festival in Louisville on Saturday, July 11. In the days following his arrest, cryptic social media messages from Russell fueled rumors and a growing uncertainty about the fate of the Cave City, Ky., roadside attraction.
In past interviews with IL, Russell has been open about living with mental illness and addiction.
Funtown Mountain opened to much fanfare in June, an event dubbed the “Grand Awesoming.”
In hindsight, Russell admits he should have called the opening of Funtown Mountain a “soft opening.” He and his team got the lower attractions up and running just two weeks after he finalized the sale of the property. Russell, ever the hype-man, raised expectations more than he should have.
The lower mountain, which includes the gift store, Haunted Motel and putt-putt, remains open daily, under the care of two loyal workers.
While a series of outdoor movies had been scheduled for the mountain this summer, Russell said they have since been cancelled due to poor attendance. Renting the screen and the projector and paying the licensing fees for these free movies ran in the hundreds of dollars and attendance was poor, he said, with one movie seeing only three people in the audience.
However, he does plan on showing “Beetlejuice” on Aug. 29 at 9 p.m.
The upper mountain remains largely inaccessible and can only open once the chairlift is made safer. This improvement could run around a quarter of a million dollars.
But Russell says he is making good on his debts and continuing to raise funds for the improvement of the park. He does hope to have the upper mountain open sometime in the fall.
Russell calls Funtown Mountain his “art project.” He says he knows that Why Louisville and Lebowski Fest will always be the money-makers in his portfolio.
For now, he’s resting up, taking a break from business, and is back on a journey of recovery and health. He’s spending time with his family, especially his daughter Stella.