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FloydFest addresses residents’ concern; Being good neighbors ‘paramount’ in relocation

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FloydFest organizers said two main goals when planning the annual event is to always keep everyone safe and to always be family-friendly.

Chief Executive Officer John McBroom and Chief Operating Officer Sam Calhoun addressed most of the concerns and questions asked by Check-area residents since June and clarified some more specific details for Floyd County Supervisors at the Sept. 27 meeting.

McBroom, whose family first started moving to Floyd in the mid-70s, said the team at Across the Way Productions “serendipitously” came across the Check property, and they’re working with Omni Build, the Department of Environmental Quality, VDOT and other officials in planning the 2023 festival.

About 100 letters were sent out to neighbors of the new site, McBroom said, along with a free ticket to next year’s event so neighbors can learn first-hand what the festival is all about.

McBroom said there have been dozens of tours given of the site, dubbed Festival Park, where he currently resides.

“My family has a long history of service in every community we’ve lived in,” McBroom said. “My intention as a new resident in Floyd is to see to that tradition to the best of my ability.”

“While most have welcomed us with open arms,” McBroom said, “some have sounded the alarm.”

Calhoun addressed some of the more pointed concerns brought to the board during public comment periods during the past few months.

“This opportunity is crucial to us,” he said.

Above all, FloydFest wants to be transparent, good neighbors and to make Floyd County residents proud the event calls Floyd home, Calhoun said.

The move to Festival Park will not increase FloydFest’s capacity, and no more than about 7,000 festival goers will be on site at a time, Calhoun said.

“... We want to represent the best of Floyd County,” Calhoun said. “We truly, truly care deeply about what we do.”

Calhoun said there is an “air of collaboration” among local first responders, the Department of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service and FloydFest organizers. He noted that all security is paid for by the festival, instead of burdening local law enforcement.

No EMS calls at the 2022 festival were drug- or alcohol-related, Calhoun said, and there were five transports from 34 total contacts.

The festival’s arrest record is “astoundingly low,” Calhoun said.

FloydFest is spending “incredible amounts of money,” he said, to address traffic concerns, hiring a traffic engineering firm in addition to working with the Virginia Department of Trasportation.

Festival Park will continue to be hayed, Calhoun said, adding no environmental concerns have been identified by site surveys submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

Calhoun said FloydFest will continue trucking in water, which is free to all patrons, and Tidy Services collects and disposes of gray and black water.

A Virginia Tech study estimated FloydFest could bring more than $4 million to Floyd County and region, Calhoun said, noting that occupancy and meals taxes should tally more than $10,000 each year.

FloydFest has a record of supporting the Floyd community through charitable donations, Calhoun said, including donating 2,700 pounds of food to Plenty! Farm and Food Store in 2022, annually donating tickets to groups, causes and benefits, and fundraising for Floyd County Rotary, Floyd County YoungLife and Floyd County Band Boosters.

“We’re not trying to shoehorn the past FloydFest into a new space… The goal was to park and camp everyone on one site…” Calhoun said.

Music will be more centralized, and there will be fewer stages than before, he said.

In regard to neighbors, Main Stage music never goes past midnight, Calhoun said, and any music after midnight is centralized at secondary stages.

“It’s incredible how you can manipulate sound these days…” Calhoun said.

Interim Locust Grove Supervisor Levi Cox said some of the top concerns he hears are about traffic and the church next door to the festival site, Faith Baptist.

Church services should not be impacted by the festival, Calhoun said, and most patrons start trickling out Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Vice Chair Jerry Boothe of the Courthouse District asked that festival organizers reach out and start a conversation with church officials to evaluate possible schedule conflicts with not only the Sunday morning services, but also the Sunday evening and Wednesday night services.

Calhoun said the team will reach out and noted all traffic information will be available to the public online once completed, as are most festival details, at www.floydfest.com.

Little River’s Linda DeVito Kuchenbuch said Faith Baptist’s Wednesday service is at 7 p.m. and asked Calhoun about trash and recyclables.

The festival “conservatively” holds a 75% landfill diversion rate, Calhoun said, thanks to its Green Team that combs the Dumpsters and fields every night and makes sure everything is properly sorted.

Calhoun said of the small amount of trash and recyclables collected, some is taken to the Floyd Transfer Station, and some is trucked back to Roanoke.

Indian Valley’s Kalinda Bechtold said she attended FloydFest for one day during the 2022 festival and couldn’t have imagined a safer place to be during the hazardous weather that made its way across the county that day.

“I was amazed by the job y’all do…,” Bechtold said. “I appreciate your openness and your willingness to take on this endeavor, and I think Floyd County should be really proud of having this…”

Chairman Joe Turman of Burks Fork said at the time he was assigned to the event area as a Floyd County deputy, he never made an arrest related to the festival.

He said sometimes it got congested, but “all in all, it was never a problem for us.”

People think of Woodstock and Stompin’ ‘76 when they hear “music festival,” but now it’s a different age, Turman said.

He recalled seeing people from all across the world during FloydFest, from those dressed in full tie-dye to three-piece suits and a band from Africa.

Turman said he appreciated Calhoun’s presentation and the respect shown by the public throughout. The board will be in contact if additional questions come up, Turman said.

Calhoun thanked the board and said any community members with concerns related to FloydFest are encouraged to reach out to the ATWP team at info@floydfest.com.

Dialogue is the key to avoiding misconceptions everywhere, from taxes to FloydFest, Turman said.

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