Bye-bye tie die? A more familiar site at FloydFest

Grace Potter and Mountain Heart closed out FloydFest 9 Sunday afternoon, bringing the annual musical extravaganza to a successful conclusion for what just about everyone agrees was the best one yet.

This year’s FloydFest was more of everything: More musical acts on more stages, more people, a more diverse offering of musical styles, more of a mix of festival favorites along with new acts, more vendors and more options for family.

Festival organizers Erica Johnson and Kris Hodges have tried for years to steer FloydFest away from its hippie image and this year’s event may have completed the transition. FloydFest 9 was a mix of something for everyone. Yes, the tie-dyed crowd still came but they were outnumbered by yuppies and kids and young couples alongĀ  while Mercedes and BMWs outnumbered VW vans in the parking lots.

From the VIP areas to the ATM machines to the political signs in the campground to politicians wondering the crowd, FloydFest is now a mature, commercial event and the centerpiece of a series of events, wine-tastings and other fare on the Patrick County site just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

“It’s a musical amusement park,” noted Karin Peters of Savannah, GA, attending her third FloydFest along with her two children. “We will be back next year.”

Most vendors reported a brisk business during the four-day festival. Floyd potter Tom Phelps said his booth reached its “break-even” point on Friday — the festival’s second day — and everything after that was gravy.

This year’s FloydFest survived a series of glitches: A jacknifed tractor-trailer on Thursday that blocked Virginia Rte. 8 south of Floyd — a primary route to the Parkway and the festival, a power outage Friday night and a Saturday hit-and-run at nearby Mabry Mill that had some police shaking their head when they were advised to be on the lookout for a man “with no shoes or shirt.” That description fit dozens at the festival on Saturday.

Organizers expected a record crowd of 14,000 this year and while a final count was not available before I left the site on Sunday all indications point to meeting or perhaps exceeding that goal.

Rain clouds threatened from time to time but while major storms passed to the north and south of the festival site, only a few drops fell. Oppressively hot days cooled down at night.

A good year for an event that has become another internationally-known icon for the Floyd area.

Sen. Mark Warner greets FloydFest attendees

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