FloydFest cancelation causes economic ripples
FloydFest, a five-day celebration showcasing more than 100 performers, has had an annual regional economic impact of about $4 million since its 2002 founding, according to festival organizers.
Even so, county officials and local business owners seem to be taking a “c’est la vie” attitude to the cancelation in April of this year’s FloydFest, which was scheduled for July.
Organizers had hoped to move the festival this year from Patrick County to more than 200 acres off U.S. 221 in Floyd County but couldn’t get the site ready in time due to permitting issues.
“It’s just really sad … for all of the people who have been working hard on it,” says Lydeana Martin, Floyd County’s community and economic development director. “But ultimately, it was a mighty aggressive timeline anyway, so I really think it’ll be a better experience for everyone for having this extra year.”
With a lineup ranging from jam bands to bluegrass, FloydFest has drawn about 15,000 fans annually — save for 2020 when it was canceled due to the pandemic, according to Sam Calhoun, chief operating officer of FloydFest organizer Across-the-Way Productions Inc.
Hill Holler, another entity associated with FloydFest, paid $2.25 million for the Floyd County land, with plans for it to become FloydFest’s permanent location. Organizers made the move because festivalgoers routinely requested on-site parking and camping instead of taking shuttles, according to Calhoun. Organizers also wanted to hold the festival in its namesake county.
After the cancelation, about 70% of ticket holders rolled over their tickets to the 2024 festival instead of requesting a refund, Calhoun says.
Taking a glass-half-full view, James Houchins, Patrick County’s director of tourism and marketing, says organizers of Front Porch Fest, a four-day music festival held in Stuart over Labor Day weekend, have seen a recent uptick in interest. Front Porch Fest, he says, is a “smaller version” of FloydFest, and he suspects the increase in ticket sales is due to fans seeking a FloydFest substitute.
Houchins declined to estimate what Patrick County might lose in tax revenue from FloydFest’s cancelation. Martin didn’t have an approximation either.
“In a little community like this,” Martin says, “every dollar does matter.