FloydFest 11 Lovers Rock has music as its core, but the event is so much more.
“There’s all kinds of stuff going on. Everybody looks forward to this all year,” said Heather Lambert of Roanoke as she took a break Friday from walking among the seven stages of music, vendors, healing gardens and other attractions on an 80-acre plateau in Patrick County just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The festival began in 2002. It gained national attention in 2005 when hosting Ani DeFranco, a well-known folk singer, according to published information.
Lambert, who said she has attended the festival for nine of its 11 years, said she is hooked on the atmosphere, and begins planning to attend the event at least six months in advance.
“I look forward to seeing the new food vendors,” said Lambert, who works at a clothing store in Roanoke. “We found three lines” of clothing at the festival that now are sold in the store, she said. “Hopefully we will find some jewelry” vendors.
Customers to the clothing store where she works like the idea of supporting the local economy and local artisans as well as buying hand-made jewelry, Lambert said.
Aside from the business and networking opportunities, Lambert said the festival is fun, with something for everyone.
“They have great headliners” performing, and the event is so popular that tickets for RV camping generally are sold out within an hour of going on sale, she said.
“There is a trapeze show at night,” Hula-Hoop and other demonstrations, yoga classes and workshops in juggling, fire spinning and even a Children’s Universe for youngsters, Lambert said as she meandered back around the festival.
On the Dreaming Creek Main Stage, L-Shape Lot performed “The Beaver Song,” with lighthearted lyrics like “Well, I’m a beaver chuckin’ wood ... I live out in the forest among the trees ... .”
“If you guys didn’t like that song, then chuck you,” one of the band members said, as the audience clapped and laughed wildly.
Vendors and demonstrations of all sorts were located on either side and down the middle of the area just beyond the audience.
Local vendors, such as the Republic of Floyd and Tom Phelps Studio in Floyd, were situated among others such as Unique Russian Jewelry, BLK INK and the Elk Run Mining Co.
Justin Barnett of Durham, N.C., was among those demonstrating his talents with Devil Sticks (also called Fire Sticks).
“It’s good exercise for the arms as well as the mind,” Barnett said as his friend, Laryssa Baldridge, also of Durham, looked on.
She said Barnett made the Devil Sticks using dowels bought at a hardware store, electric tape and the inner tubes of bicycle tires.
“It’s just something to do, and it’s fun to watch,” Baldridge said. That, she noted, is one of the unique things about FloydFest — “watching everyone with their different talents and being able to share in that.”
Lessons were offered nearby in meditation, Hula-Hoops and the trapeze.
“The whole atmosphere” of the festival keeps Anthony Byrd coming back each year, said Byrd, of Woolwine, formerly of Fieldale.
Sitting near his tent in one of several camping areas, Byrd laid aside Friday’s edition of the Martinsville Bulletin he was reading, and paused long enough to explain “this is my fifth year” attending the FloydFest with a group of friends.
“This is also a wonderful place with the happiest people you will ever see in your life,” Byrd said. Organizers “do a wonderful job” producing the event.
Doug and Telisha Williams, formerly of Martinsville, were among the performers at the Workshop Porch, another of the festival stages.
The two performed a new song they wrote, currently titled, “Trigger.”
The song tells the story of a woman “who was really mad at her man,” Telisha Williams said when introducing the song.
“I think this is just a beautiful facility and a wonderful festival,” she said, after jamming with other performers to a rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”
FloydFest includes “a really great lineup” of performers, Telisha Williams said.
Williams said she and her husband recently relocated to east Nashville in a move that’s been “great for our songwriting,” but they regularly are back in Martinsville.
For example, Williams said she and her husband will perform at the Rives Theatre in December.
Wanda Davis, of Calloway, has attended the FloydFest for five years.
“This is a clean, safe, non-rowdy, interesting festival,” Davis said. “It’s kind of whatever you want to do, you can do it at FloydFest and not even stand out in the crowd.”
The festival runs through today, and is located at mile marker 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For more information, visit www.floydfest.com.