Music festivals like the annual FloydFest event just off the Blue Ridge Parkway each summer generally have a reputation as laid-back gatherings where peace, tranquility and love supersede anger, hostility and stress of modern times.
Not so this year when parking problems and complications from heavy downpours left many FloydFest participants anything but laid back and tranquil.
Delays in shuttle transfers from the outlying parking lots created anger from those who said they missed the shows they came to see because they couldn’t get to the site on time.
Long-simmering hostility from some who see FloydFest as “just another hippie event” surfaced over reports that the festival took over control of the parking lots this year from the operation run by law enforcement officials who used the lots to raise money for charity.
Drenching downpours turned parking lots into mud zones where cars slid into each other, got stuck or hand to be abandoned until tow vehicles could get in to clear the area. Cascading water turned camping areas into wetlands and left layers upon layers of mud in the festival site.
Some county residents expressed anger and disdain over the dispatching of local school buses and drivers to help in shuttling FloydFest patrons to an from emergency-established lots at Floyd County High School and the county’s Commerce Center. Inaccurate rumors claimed the county was providing the buses and drivers for free or that local vendors were shut out of this year’s festival. Such rumors thrived on Facebook but they weren’t true.
County school superintendent Kevin Harris made it clear to Festival officials that fees would be charged for use of the buses and the drivers would have to be paid by event organizers. He also insisted that the festival pay local bus drivers who were dispatched to the festival grounds Thursday to drive buses for Mountain Valley Transportation but were turned away because the bus operators said they weren’t insured because they weren’t employees of Mountain Valley.
FloydFest will provided its perspective in an article I’m preparing for Thursday’s edition of The Floyd Press. So will local officials who have pro and con opinions on what happened.
Yes, there were problems and FloydFest will have to deal with the issues caused by those problems but perhaps people should wait until all the facts are in before passing public judgment on an event that has become a permanent part of the Floyd scene.
Some festival volunteers say they were insulted, cursed at and threatened by upset patrons. Others report dealing with a vast majority of attendees who took the difficulties in stride and thanked them for their help.
There are many stories out there about FloydFest 12 — some good, some bad and some that raise questions that require detailed answers. We need to hear those stories and explanation and then examine what did and did not happen before reaching any conclusions or passing any judgments.