Among all I’ve missed during the pandemic, live music ranks among the top. Can you relate?
I find myself excited to return to what's been named “Best Music Festival” multiple times by voters of Best of Blue Ridge Magazine, but still wanting to limit contact with large crowds. This got me considering how we can safely attend festivals and what changes we can expect at FloydFest, so I reached out to Brian Swenk at Across the Way Productions.
When FloydFest had to cancel last year, it was handled in a thoughtful manner. Recognizing a loyal customer base that returns annually, Across The Way Productions offered ticketholders a choice of rolling tickets over to 2021, or a refund. Those who rolled tickets over were rewarded with the chance to win upgrades, which have been randomly drawn and announced throughout the year. The festival was transparent with updates as they worked with local, state, and federal authorities and made frequent updates on social channels, especially Facebook groups and the website. This resulted in positive feedback on social channels from thousands of fans.
FloydFest was one of the first festivals to announce they would run in 2021, which meant they’d need to recreate a planning process that runs like clockwork after 20 years. Fortunately, this was a challenge Team ATW was prepared for. Sam Calhoun, Brian Swenk and the rest of the team have been working closely with health officials to learn how they can help keep everyone healthy through thoughtful modifications over the past year. As a result, an extensive planning program over the past year has turned FloydFest into a template other festivals are now borrowing from! The team will even offer a behind-the-scenes look at the past year's challenges in a panel discussion at the festival.
So what will be different at FloydFest 21~Odyssey?
Reduced Capacity: FloydFest is entirely outside, and with 9 stages to choose there are plenty of options to spread out. Even so, a notably reduced number of tickets are available for festival and camping options.
Increased Cleaning: The vast team of volunteers at FloydFest always keep the grounds tidy, but they’ll be joined this year by a new partner called Prevent, who will be continuously sanitizing surfaces including handwashing and water bottle filling stations, tables and chairs, and toilets using backpack-style sanitizers that will allow easy roaming.
Increased Handwashing stations: We know frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to stay healthy, and FloydFest will add additional stations.
Temperature Checks: Will be provided with Prevent using infrared scanners at the entrance gate.
What about the stainless steel cups I've been collecting for all these years? Disposable corn-based cups for the beer gardens were created, but at the time of this writing, the festival had been given the thumbs up to return to the refillable cups we love with a few modifications. That's one of my favorites above!
Note: Steppin’ Out festival-goers might have noticed the town of Blacksburg adopted this green practice greatly reducing trash.
What else can we do to help keep one another safe?
Keep Your Hands To Yourself: FloydFest offers great shopping from vendors selling a wonderfully eclectic range of goods, but look with your eyes and not your hands. Enjoy browsing the vendors with a limited number of people inside tents, but please- don’t touch anything unless you’re thinking of making the purchase.
6-Feet Please: In past years we might have formed a tight line to purchase a beloved Veggie Thing from the Sugar Shack, or to have the band sign your CD at the Merch Tent, but this year please be mindful of allowing everyone space. And if someone around you forgets, politely remind them with a simple “do you mind backing up a bit please?” and a smile.
Mask Up: Even if you’re fully vaccinated, we might consider masking up if we find ourselves in a crowd, and masks are encouraged but not required at the time of this writing. If you’re like me, you might even have some masks with your favorite band logos on them that will be perfect for sparking up conversations!
With this in mind and a day bag that already includes hand sanitizer, I’m ready to safely enjoy live music and entertainment, plus the workshops, vendors, beautiful campus and a few days of unplugged good times.
About the festival: FloydFest 2021 meets July 21 - 25, 2021, at Milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, Va. See the lineup and purchase tickets and merchandise here. To learn more about how FloydFest is working to keep us safe and the most up-to-date information visit here.
Also See: How To Make The Most of Floydfest