FloydFest 12

July 25-28, 2013

Floyd, VA

Written By Becca ‘Boo’ Cranwell

Photos by Roger Gupta

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Here in Southwest, we don’t get big shows very often. Those of us who need live music in our lives often resort to weeknight shows at local watering holes, or traveling to nearby cities like Richmond, Greensboro, or Asheville to remedy an insatiable appetite for music. That is—until FloydFest comes around. Floyd Fest 12, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, winding through close-by Floyd County, VA, is the biggest outdoor sports, arts, culture, and musical event to take place in these parts. And when Across-the-Way Productions decides to do it big…they do it big!


Floyd County is famous for hippies; however, the town’s roots stretch much farther into folk and bluegrass music than they do into Grateful Dead tunes. Spend a Friday evening walking the sidewalks of the town of Floyd, part of the Crooked Road, and your ears will be blessed with authentic bluegrass from all over the Shenandoah. With roots like this, it’s not difficult to see how FloydFest has grown into such a hugely celebrated event throughout Southwest, VA and well beyond.

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Consistently booking top-not bluegrass, new-grass, and jam-grass bands like: Old Crow Medicine Show, Trampled by Turtles, The Hackensaw Boys, Railroad Earth, Yarn, Yonder Mountain String Band and the Infamous Stringdusters, it’s easy to see how FloydFest draws in bluegrass fans from across the country. Billed initially as a “world music festival”, the organizers seek to bring as many different styles of music as possible and they are all very well-represented. Add a sprinkling of extremely popular groups like: The Lumineers, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Citizen Cope, and John Butler Trio, and it’s no secret how Floyd Fest 12 sold out before the first day.


Walking through the gates, the care taken to organize the beautiful mountain top venue and staff attentiveness is obvious. With its twelve years in existence, FloydFest also brings many festivarians who have made this festival a tradition. These are the best kind of patrons. These people decorate campsites with vibrant flags, pinwheels, and homemade art projects. These are also the ones who know how to stomp and dance despite the rain. If you ever go to FloydFest and don’t know a single soul there—find the most brightly decorated campsite and introduce yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

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Thursday evening’s headliner is The Lumineers, who sing straight to your heartstrings; pulling them in every direction: from true love to heartache, to inspiration and hope. If there is a tear-jerker award, The Lumineers deserve it—hands-down. Following The Lumineers, droves of flat-footers head down the hill to the Hill-Holler stage to shake off all those pesky emotions with the healing power of Railroad Earth’s new-grass. As rain begins sprinkling our faces, no one stops and no one slows down. These people are FloydFest veterans and a little rain isn’t going to hinder the good times. Not one bit.


Friday morning and afternoon is smattered with music as well as activities: yoga, taekwondo, composting and hula hooping workshops for kids and adults. FloydFest is a great festival for families with children of all ages. Entertainment never runs dry here. The environment is safe and clean (except for a little mud) and the stages and camping are close enough that you won’t be exhausted from hiking to wherever you need to go. Unless being exhausted is your thing. if so—help yourself to the tons of outdoor activities offered: The Moonstomper Trail is a gorgeous seven mile loop for mountain bikers, casing the perimeter of the fest. There are disc golf courses throughout the venue, plenty of hiking trails, and even kayaking just down the hill towards the river.

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While big bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are invigorating and exciting to see, don’t be blinded by the brightness of the moon and forget to look at the stars gleaming right in front of you. One of the best things about FloydFest is finding new groups to fall in love with. FloydFest 12 made me fall completely in love with Rising Appalachia. Sisters, Leah and Chloe, hypnotize listeners with haunting vocals, cryptic and sometimes political lyrics, and incredible skills on various instruments including banjo, fiddle, guitar and washboards. As if their music isn’t enough, the sisters invite an astonishingly beautiful aerial dancer to perform during a particularly seductive tune. If you haven’t heard Rising Appalachia yet, go look them up immediately. This is the type of music that grabs you by the root and shakes you; completely under their spell, you can’t help but listen eagerly.


To clear your head from the mountain fog, feel free to go pop your shoulders and grind your hips to one of the many DJ’s featured this year in the Flower of Life stage: Gaudi, DJ Stiletto, and DJ Atropolis. Like hungry bees to a flourishing garden, DJ Stiletto’s electronic dabbling brings in the younger crowd and provides the upbeat dance party many festivarians yearn for. Sit back in FloydFest’s giant lawn chair and listen as the music progresses from string bands to laptops, ever genre is represented at this enormous, small town festival.

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What you should take away from FloydFest 12, if you haven’t figured it out for yourself, is to keep your mind open. You can’t judge a band by its name, and you can’t judge a genre by a single song. Of course, go see the big band you came to see—but also go support newer groups. You never know what you may be missing. If you missed any of the following sets, be sure to check them out: Delta Rae, The Bright Light Social Hour, TAUK, Lizzy Ross, No BS Brass Band and FF12’s “On the Rise” winner Paper Bird and 2nd place winner Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands. If you love music, you won’t be disappointed.

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