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FloydFest Get’s A Little “Wilder” Per Co-Founder

The crowds get a little bit larger and “wilder”at Floydfest.

The five day music extravaganza that focuses on roots, Americana and various other genres is back from July 25-29 near milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Highlights this year include Foster the People, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Old Crow Medicine Show and the Infamous Stringdusters but in reality more than 100 performers will grace 8 stages from late morning into the wee hours of the night.

Kris Hodges, co-founder of FloydFest and CEO/producer for Across the Way Productions, says the wild theme is an attempt to connect with something meaningful. “You can’t say that the past year hasn’t been a wild ride in so many ways, “says Hodges, “and it stretches our imagination and our tolerance.” Hodges says music is more than just entertainment, “it has to inspire your soul and motivate your mind.  A personal transition in his life threw Hodges “for a loop,” but he found solace in music, then “I started to trust my wild nature.”

FloydFest 18 will also feature the other things that turns the event into a mini-vacation for some – a family friendly one at that: a children’s universe playground, outdoor adventures, exotic food choices from a variety of vendors and plenty of craft beer.  Hodges says he is “grateful for the wild nature that still exists in the world,” hence this year’s theme. He also operates The Phoenix on 5th Street SW, a music venue where some of the bands that will play at this year’s FloydFest had tryouts or competed in battles of the bands as part of the “On the Rise” series.

Hodges brought on John McBroom as CFO this year, after McBroom – who fronts the group Blue Mule – had been with the festival since its early years as a production manager. “I noticed an incredible relationship he had developed with [other festival workers].” It took Hodges several years to get McBroom to step up to the CFO role. “I’m honored to have John as a partner. I couldn’t be happier.”

As for highlights, Hodges is excited “for a ton,” but singles out Kentucky’s Tyler Childers as someone he wants to see on stage later this month, comparing him to Chris Stapleton and “the roots-country music renaissance going on right now.” Jason Isbell is the Saturday night headliner and won a recent Grammy. “I have a lot of exciting bands every night – tons that I am excited about.”

Hodges himself drums for several groups and you can expect to see him on stage at some point during FloydFest. Groups with like local roots like Dharma Bombs, My Radio and Erin and the Wildfire will also play sets. Hodges calls the promotion of regional groups “Local Love.” Hodges also has an uncanny knack for assembling groups that many who aren’t on Spotify regularly may never have heard of until they attend FloydFest- and it always seems to mesh well.

There are the wandering performers; stilt walkers, people playing with fire, etc.  There’s also healing arts, yoga in the morning, trail races, disc golf, chances to hike and boat nearby or bike around the site. Hodges calls it a “vacation destination,” and it’s an hour or less from Roanoke.  Hodges gives three reasons as an incentive to come up to the Patrick County-Floyd County line from July 25-29: “music, the libations and the outdoors.” For almost 20 years that’s been enough to lure some people back again and again.

Check the website to see what’s left in regards to camping options and for tickets.

Gene Marrano

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