Monday, February 15, 2010

FloydFest is a Family Affair

The following appeared in the Floyd Press on July 24, 2008 and also online HERE.

The theme of this year’s Floydfest, “A Family Affair,” came about at the end of last year’s festival when festival co-founder Kris Hodges realized that everyone involved – patrons, volunteers, staff, and vendors – felt like family.

But the feeling of family extends beyond the 400 yearly volunteers, the 40 paid event staff, and others who work together to make the summer music festival a success. The theme, which takes its name from the popular 70’s song by Sly and the Family Stone, is a reflection of Hodges’ overview of the event, held off the Blue Ridge Parkway this July 24 – 27. “It’s a celebration of tolerance for each other, all of us sharing this planet,” he said.

His partner and co-founder, Erika Johnson said her appreciation for the theme was reinforced by a recent Tom Petty concert she attended at a large venue in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event was ruined for her by the impersonal nature of the venue and the rowdy drinking behavior of the packed-in crowd. “For the same amount of money, you could come to Floyd Fest for the weekend,” Hodges noted.

Floyd Fest, about to begin its seventh year, is older than Hodges and Johnson’s daughter Chloe. In keeping with the family theme, this year will be the first that the six year old will be attending all four days of the festival with her ten year old brother, Tristen,” her mother said.

With Chloe on her lap, Johnson pointed out the new playground in the Children’s Universe, built by the Pennsylvanian Amish as an ark. Pointing out the building expansion project at the dance tent site, she explained that each year festival-goers are encouraged with the chance to win free tickets to fill out a survey listing what they liked about the festival and what they would like to see at future events. A bigger dance floor was at the top of the list.

“We’re doubling the dance space,” said Bob Forman, a FloydFest staff member who was onsite to work on the project.

Another new FloydFest feature, added for the enjoyment of children and adults alike, is a trapeze. Run by the Trapeze Academy, the event is an interactive one and will have a central location, overlooking Hill Holler Stage. “It takes you up sixty feet and you can learn how to flip,” said Johnson.

Although the festival continues to offer a range of children’s activities, healing arts, a contained beer and wine garden, a variety of vending tents for food, arts, and crafts; the main focus remains the same. “This festival is for music lovers,” Hodges said.

Headliners this year include the return of FloydFest favorite, Donna the Buffalo, along with Railroad Earth, Tea Leaf Green, The David Grisman Quintet, Golem, Ivan Neville, the Avett Brothers, and Amos Lee; who Hodges says has been likened to Bob Dylan. Bands will be coming from San Francisco and Brooklyn and everywhere in between.

“Virginia bands are well represented,” Hodges said. He listed Roanoke, Blacksburg, Richmond, and Charlottesville as regional areas the bands will be coming from. No Speed Limit, a bluegrass band from Galax, described on the FloyFest webpage ( as “in the fast lane in regards to their musical careers,” will be performing. Floyd musicians on the roster include Mac and Jenny Traynham, and The Aliens. Floyd’s Starroot will return to the Children’s Universe with her band Somersault.

Hodges is particularly excited about the festival’s emerging artist series. Thirty-five musical acts from nearby and around the country will compete for an audience choice vote. The winner will return next year for a main stage performance. The audience favorite will also receive $1,000, recording time at Red Room Studio in Roanoke, and $500 to spend on marketing merchandise to be sold at the FloydFest store, Hodges explained.

With thousands of festival-goers camping and gathering on the sprawling festival site, with seven stages for four days of nonstop music, and a village of vending tents, FloydFest is a big undertaking. “We get a lot of help,” Hodges said. “This year the sponsors really stepped up.”

“The Food Lion is providing water and soda. Citizens is hosting the Cyber Café, and local landscaper John Beegle has donated landscaping,” Johnson said.

This year 80 bands will hit the Floyd Fest stages, as compared to 72 last year. Judging by pre-ticket sales, which are up 30% from last year, Hodges and Johnson are enthusiastic.

“People want an intimate, wholesome experience, and FloydFest offers that, Hodges said. “We’re having fun. We feel blessed every day to be doing this,” Johnson added. ~ Colleen Redman

Photos: 1. FloydFest founders Erika Johnson and Kris Hodges with their daughter Chloe at the festival site. 2. Flowers in the Beer Garden ready for landscaping, which is headed-up by Barb Gillespie of Floyd. 3. Ongoing questions about whether Pink Floyd will be playing at FloydFest prompted the redesign of the Beer Garden Stage, now known as the Pink Floyd stage. 4. Large stringed instrument sculpture at the festival entrance was made by Floyd metal fabricator Asa Pickford. More photos and fun tales to come… Click HERE and scroll down for past Floyd Fest stories and photos.

~ Originally posted on Loose Leaf Notes on July 25, 2008.

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