Fire on the Mountain
By Jamie Goodman
Appalachian Voices + FloydFest = Spreading Love for the Mountains
This year, Appalachian Voices was chosen by FloydFest: Fire on the Mountain as the featured nonprofit. Festivalgoers can donate to Appalachian Voices when purchasing their tickets, and FloydFest will match with a donation from their proceeds. An “I Love Mountains” temporary tattoo parlor and a panel on mountaintop removal coal mining will be set up to encourage and promote stewardship of the Appalachian mountains, and festival attendes can stop by the Appalachian Voices tent to learn more and enter a raffle to win a West Virginia rafting trip. For more details, visit appvoices.org/floydfest.
Situated on a picturesque ridge just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Va., FloydFest: Fire on the Mountain, is more than just a stellar music festival: it’s a multi-day adventure with a community feel and an emphasis on family, art and celebration.
Each year, festival organizers strive to create a joyous and inclusive atmosphere, and the number 14 is no exception — with a slight twist.
“We’re going back to our roots, and going old school this year,” says festival Marketing Director Sam Calhoun. “We’re focusing on the things that made us what we are today, and recognizing where we came from.”
For Calhoun, this means listening to what fans are interested in. For the past several years, FloydFest organizers have surveyed the attendees about bands, vendor and village experience, food, camping and more. Armed with this feedback, organizers got to work reshaping the beloved music festival.
“We love our patrons, and really take a lot of stock in their opinion,” Calhoun said. “The amount of survey responses is incredible, year after year – people really connect with FloydFest, love FloydFest; it’s remarkable, and a blessing.”
This year’s lineup, strongly influenced by fan input, currently features more than 50 musical acts of all genres playing on eight different stages, with a lineup of FloydFest fan favorites from years past, including Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Drive-By Truckers, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon and Keller Williams, as well as up-and-comers such as Annabelle’s Curse, American Aquarium, Miss Tess and the Talkbacks and Pitchblak Brass Band.
The festival is also hosting a special “Band on Fire” series in May, where local musicians compete for fan votes to earn spots in the lineup, with a final performance battle in June — also judged by the fans — to see who will open for top act Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell.
Voted “Best Outdoor Music Festival” by Blue Ridge Magazine, FloydFest focuses on more than just the music, integrating outdoor adventures and family-friendly activities seamlessly. Guided hikes, disc golf, adrenaline-fueled mountain biking and geocache treasure hunts intermingle with workshops and panels on bee-keeping, primitive tool-making and mountain music. Massages, yoga classes and sustainability workshops are available in the Healing Arts Village. A juried selection of more than 70 artisans — including jewelers, potters, mad hatters, shoemakers, painters and candle makers — and gourmet regional food trucks provide the necessities of festival life.
In fact, the variety of diversions to occupy your days at FloydFest ensures that you will have to work to be bored.
Two important changes the organizers are embracing this year include limiting the total number of tickets sold to maintain a more intimate atmosphere and revamping what was formerly known as the Global Village to create a more down-home, community-centered environment.
“We’re phasing out the late-night sets in the Village and are bringing back the flatbed trailer stage,” says Calhoun. The Village is the center of longtime FloydFest fandom, and includes Glamping — an upscale camping section for folks who like a more all-inclusive experience — the Dancing Dave shelters, yurts and VW camping, as well as a Village Café with continental breakfast. The popular bonfire will stay, and will feature acoustic sets with Larry Keel and other musicians.
FloydFest is also expanding its already well-established environmental focus. “The surveys taught us that the most important thing folks wanted is onsite parking and a more green festival,” says Calhoun. Organizers responded by creating a special HOV EZ-Pass ticket bundle, which encourages group carpooling to the festival by offering a coveted on-site park-and-camp space.
For many years, the festival has been devoted to reducing the waste that is generated by 10,000 attendees per day. Stainless steel collectible cups — personalized for each year’s festival — eliminate the need for disposable cups in the beer gardens, vendors are encouraged to use compostable cutlery and plates, and a Green Team of volunteers monitors bins placed throughout the festival to collect recycling, trash and compost.
“And solar power is popping up across the venue,” Calhoun said. “We are looking at securing grants to in future years run the entire festival off of renewable energy.”
To learn more about FloydFest, the lineup, and their mission to community, visit: floydfest.com.