FLOYD, Va. — For music aficionados, FloydFest is a five-day vacation off the Blue Ridge Parkway filled with a variety of eclectic tunes, stunning vistas and making new friends while getting re-acquainted with old ones.
For musicians, it’s an opportunity to gain new fans, says Rhiannon Giddens, founding mem-ber and lead singer of the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
“At a festival like this there will be some Chocolate Drop fans, but there will be a whole lot of people who are here for somebody else and that’s the case at any festival,” Giddens said during an interview at MerleFest in April.
“You’re not as relaxed and that’s a good thing. You want to win new fans, you want to bring more people to your side, so the sets might run a little quicker because you want to get more music in there. You want to keep it lively because people are standing and they want to dance.”
The Grammy-winning traditional African-American string band has been building a following since forming in 2005 in Durham, North Carolina. The band is just one of more than 100 acts scheduled to perform on 10 stages at FloydFest 13 set for Wednesday-Sunday near mile marker 170.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops will hit the Dreaming Creek Main Stage on Sunday at 12:45 p.m. and the Sugarlands Shine Speakeasy Stage at 6:30 p.m.
This year’s festival theme is “Revolutionary” and in addition to the music will feature more than 100 artisans, specialty craft beverages and a Healing Arts Village, panel discussions on a variety of sustainability topics featuring activists and headlining artists, and a Children’s Uni-verse, according to organizers.
Numerous outdoor activities are offered throughout the weekend to take advantage of the beauty of the local area, including Osprey guided hikes, the Belcher Mountain Beat Down mountain bike tour, the second annual Vasque 5K Trail Race and float trips down the Little River with On The Water.
Performing in addition to the Carolina Chocolate Drops, are Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Thievery Corporation, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Lettuce, Ray LaMontagne, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti and Spearhead, JJ Grey and Mofro, Donna the Buffalo, The Lee Boys, The London Souls, Rising Appalachia and Conspirator.
Organizers say there will be some changes after last year’s rains turned the annual event into more mudfest than music fest.
“We grew exponentially over the course of just a few years,” CEO and Co-Founder Kris Hodges said in a news release. “We temporarily lost sight of our priorities. This year we’ve cut tickets, created more space, and completely re-vamped certain of the logistics that weren’t up to par with our standards.”
Hodges says that the mission statement, which states the company’s goal of “… being the best music festival experience of our time. Selling a limited quantity of tickets to the highest quality event experience, bar none, celebrating music, art and life in an intimate, visually stun-ning environment,” will be on display throughout the event, the release states.
Aligned with this effort, the event has located all parking and shuttling to the event campus, which is designed as primarily pedestrian, at a huge local private airstrip, and will be shuttling attendees in a fleet of deluxe coach buses, with gear storage underneath, the release states. Shuttles will run constantly to and from the festival site beginning at noon Wednesday through noon Monday, organizers say.
Ticket options in 2014 have been extended to include arrival Wednesday and a departure option of Monday.
“This year every patron will roll into FloydFest like a rock star,” Hodges added. “Our fans have earned it.”
Single-day tickets are still available. To purchase tickets or for more information visit http://www.floydfest.com or by calling 1-888-VA-FESTS.
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