by Gene Marrano
FloydFest hoped its 10th anniversary would be an “eXperience,” which is how it was billed, and for the thousands that showed up it turned out to be just that. The music extravaganza ran out of tickets on two of its four day run (last Friday and Saturday) and some had to pay extra to camp in the VIP section since the regular camping spots sold out before the end of 2010.
The vibe at FloydFest, which is set on a large tract of leased land near the Floyd and Patrick County borders, was as good as ever, even if a few actually complained that it had gotten too big in its tenth year. The array of food vendors, many offering organic dishes, was probably the best ever, and the beer and wine garden did brisk business.
As always, the music offered at all 11 venues on site was eclectic, interesting and often new to many listeners. FloydFest has become a favorite of those who travel the music festival circuit every year, attending similar events throughout the southeast and elsewhere. Many in the crowd sported t-shirts from listening ventures in far flung spots.
“We’re inspired by all of you,” the lead singer from Old Crow Medicine Show told the audience before their performance last Thursday night, joking also about the “whole bunch of hairy dudes to boot” that were in the audience at the Dreaming Creek main stage. Earlier that day Trampled By Turtles warmed up the crowd with a rousing set. “I heard them from the campground and said I needed to come over and take a look,” said one Floyd camper.
Linda Harrison of Roanoke, a retired schoolteacher, wanted to go to Woodstock in 1969 as a recent college graduate, but her mother nixed that notion. “FloydFest is a good substitute these days,” said Harrison, as she watched New Monsoon play on the Hill Holler stage. “It’s not as wild as Woodstock was,” noted Harrison, who likes to people-watch at FloydFest and “loves the food. There are three times more vendors than there were a couple of years ago. I just enjoy it.”
At the other end of FloydFest, far away from the thousands that flock to the main stage to hear headliners like Old Crow Medicine Show, several dozen people listened while Virginia native Heather Berry played and sang her old time music. The workshop stage was sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, which showcases and records little-known musicians from all over the Commonwealth.
It had been about three years since Berry played at FloydFest. “We were real excited about coming back,” said Berry, a Shenandoah Valley native who was accompanied by her husband, also a musician, as she played. Berry was also looking forward to spending time at FloydFest X simply as a spectator.
“There’s so much music here and it’s a great atmosphere, wonderful folks,” said Berry. “We love playing here. You couldn’t ask for better folks or a better place to have it.”
Those who like the music and overall atmosphere at events like FloydFest and the recent Floyd Fandango may want to check out the 36th annual Virginia Wine Festival in Centreville (Sept. 17-18), which is now managed by Kris Hodges, Erika Johnson and the Across the Way production team- the same ones who manage Floydfest.
“You guys are going to have so much fun this weekend,” a member of the group Trampled By Turtles said as FloydFest X kicked off last Thursday; “I wish we could stay longer.”