Scot Bellavia: THE FLOYDFEST EXPERIENCE

Look! There’s a hot dog vendor—no, that’s a pickle cart. Of course they don’t sell hot dogs here. And I see fantastic creatures on stilts; their faces look like they are from someone’s dream, or hallucination. And over yonder are grown adults hula-hooping into a trance into the night.

I can only be at FloydFest.

Other music festivals are known for drugs, crowd crushing, and seedy sexual circumstances. And if you find the wrong tents, FloydFest can be a gateway drug to those harder festivals. Still, I always thought of FloydFest as family-friendly. It has a Kid’s Zone, the beer tents are cordoned off, and the music is cracker-barrel bluegrass more often than it is the devil’s rock and roll.

The music is all around; there are stages in every direction. The children’s area has as its live soundtrack that band of high schoolers; Remember the kids whose parents bought them the gig opening for an elderly cover band at Festival in the Park? Elsewhere, a trio jams on the porch of a cabin, made up to appear as tumbledown as the musicians made themselves up in dressing down. Yet another stage hosts the bands you would have heard during the best years of 101.5 The Music Place. And a half-mile from there, is the big stage where greats like The Lumineers, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Avett Brothers, Kacey Musgraves, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and countless more have given audiences a good time.

I went to school with a family who took their vacation there in Floyd every summer since the festival’s first year and I’m sorry they have to break tradition. I’ve only gotten headlines of why FloydFest was cancelled this year. It doesn’t sound like anything new: money and red tape. So, it sure is a shame. I have no entreaty to offer those in power. And since the festival would have been next week, anything I have to say is too little too late anyway.

Now living outside Virginia, FloydFest is one of those remnants in my mind of growing up in Roanoke. In my memory, the grass is bluer, the pickles crunchier, and the experience always reverential.

– Scot Bellavia

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