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Rooster Walk popularity may prompt new location next year
Thursday, May 22, 2014
By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Rooster Walk 6 will take place this weekend at its familiar home at Blue Mountain Festival Grounds at 1920 Coopers Mountain Road, just across the county line in Franklin County.
Rooster Walk 7, however, may take place in Henry County.
In January, Johnny Buck and William Baptist, co-founders of the annual weekend-long music festival, were granted a special use permit by the Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) that would enable them to hold the festival at a new location in Axton.
The new location, which is owned by Rooster Walk Inc. board member Jay Frith, is a roughly 159-acre property at 675 Hobson Road in the Iriswood District.
There are several reasons for the change in venue, Buck and Baptist said, all of them positive.
Although Blue Mountain Festival Grounds has been a wonderful site for the event, Rooster Walk 6, Baptist said, is approaching the site’s capacity, which he estimated at between 4,000 and 5,000 people.
“There’s a big difference between capacity in the venue ... and what you need as far as infrastructure,” he said.
Added Buck, “Our issue is not how many people can we fit in front of the stage. Our issue is how many cars can we park and camping. Folks who buy the weekend ticket and plan to camp, you’ve got to have room for their tents and their campers and that type of stuff.”
Baptist said he and Buck had to carefully consider whether to keep the previous venue — thereby keeping Rooster Walk at roughly the same size — or move and give it room to grow.
“We were faced with the decision of either letting it continue to grow in size, or to refine it where it is now and start having sellout years every year,” Baptist said. “Once we started to see the impact potential for this community, I think we just decided that we wanted to let it grow a little bit more.”
However, Baptist added, “We want our event to stay a comfortable, laid-back event. It’s not about money for us. Money is needed to make it happen and to ultimately support our causes, but keeping people comfortable is more important.”
Baptist added that he and Buck are both Martinsville natives, and they also want to bring their event a bit closer to home.
With Blue Mountain Festival Grounds “being a stone’s throw inside of Franklin County,” Baptist said, “a large part of the people, especially coming from north of us, are never even entering the confines of Henry County” when they attend the music festival.
However, if the event is moved to the proposed site in Axton, attendees will have more opportunities to buy goods, such as food and fuel, inside Henry County, which will help the local tourism industry.
Buck has said Rooster Walk Inc. still must raise funds to build stages and proper infrastructure on the property before it can become the festival’s new home.
Rooster Walk 6 will kick off tonight for VIP ticket holders. The festival will be open to the general public from Friday through Sunday.
Today is the last day of online ticket sales at www.roosterwalk.com. Tickets may be purchased at the gate Friday through Sunday.