This year’s festival included performances from:
First things first: the volunteers and staff at FloydFest were incredible. Each volunteer/staff member I spoke to was not only attentive, but friendly and genuinely interested in making sure that the festival experience was enjoyable for everyone. They seemed less like the people in charge, and more like attendees that just happened to have walkie-talkies and cool “Will Work For Music” shirts. I should also note that the grounds crew should be commended. There were trash, recycling, and compost bins that seemed to appear precisely when you needed one, and none were overflowing (especially impressive given that Saturday’s attendance was at the site’s full capacity of 14,000 people).
FloydFest’s emphasis on community and sustainability seemed to flow through all aspects of the festival – a large number of the vendors, sponsors and musicians are from the region, and the festival does its best to give back to the surrounding community. A local vineyard donates fields that serve as offsite festival parking, and 100% of the proceeds are donated to local charities and organizations. A ‘Children’s Universe’ area offered ongoing activities for kids, including workshops, music, and a costume parade on Saturday. Area organizations sponsored a number of workshops focused on sustainability and ‘reskilling’, with a Backyard Revolution area featuring classes on firestarting, blacksmithing, tool-making, and edible/medicinal plant identification, bringing out the agricultural heritage of the region. The Healing Arts Village hosted a number of different massage/bodywork practitioners, as well as offering a variety of free workshops. The festival’s commitment to the environment was most evident in the food vendors at the festival: ALL foodware and service items were compostable. As a coffee addict, I was especially pleased that the festival was styrofoam free – caffeine without guilt!
Oh, and did I mention that there was music, too? The depth and breadth of the music you’ll hear on the performance and workshop stages at FloydFest is astounding. As I wandered the festival, I heard everything from legends of American music like Levon Helm, to world music and electronica, to the movers and shakers in the bluegrass and Americana genres… there truly was something for everyone’s musical taste.
One of my favorite aspects of being host of the Free For All is that I’m able to introduce people to music I’m passionate about over the airwaves. This weekend, I had the opportunity to do just that in person. My roommate, Jo, agreed to accompany me to the hills of Virginia to attend her first bluegrass(ish) festival. While she’s certainly not new to the festival scene, all of her previous festival experiences have been rock/indie music festivals in her native Scotland. We spent part of the drive from D.C. to Floyd, Va. in a crash-course of some of the bluegrass and Americana bands she’d be hearing over the course of the weekend (Mountain Heart, Town Mountain, Bearfoot, The Hackensaw Boys, Tennessee Boltsmokers, The Steel Wheels, Old Crow Medicine Show, Levon Helm, The Wiyos, Boulder Acoustic Society, Two Man Gentlemen Band), talking about the history and roots of bluegrass music, and the prevalence of jamming at bluegrass fests (Adam Steffey’s Let Me Fall served as the beginner’s guide to trading fours!). We also spent some time hitting up places that are quintessentially ‘southern’ – like Cracker Barrel and Waffle House. When we got to the fest, we promptly headed to a shady spot and marked up our programs, creating our festival agendas. While we definitely had some overlap, Jo’s list skewed more toward non-bluegrass/Americana bands than mine. As festivals always go, you catch some of what you’ve come to see, but there’s always some groove off in the distance that captures your attention… At the end of the festival, I asked her what she thought of the bluegrass-y stuff that we saw. Her answer summed up the way I feel about seeing live music: ‘You know… there was some of it that you’d played on the way down that I wouldn’t particularly have cared to listen to, but then when I saw it actually being performed, it came full circle.’
FloydFest’s motto is all about ‘breaking ground’ and exploring new territories. I’m glad I was able to be part of this year’s ground breaking.
Special thanks to Aleah Dillon for the ‘traveling’ shots of the beautiful scenery around the festival site!!
More FloydFest photos can be found at MyJoog, courtesy of Todd Godbout.
Were you at FloydFest? We’d love to hear about your festival experience! Let us know on Facebook!