Blue Ridge Rock Festival considered a success despite “some growing pains”

Southside Virginia News

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — About 33,000 people descended onto the grounds of the Blue Ridge Amphitheater on the border of Danville and Pittsylvania County for a four-day music event that featured an estimated 200 bands. While attendees were impressed with the performances, the same can not be said regarding the organization of the event.

“Getting in was a [expletive] show,” said Jackie Hogan of Asheboro, N.C.

“I paid for the parking pass, which was a waste of money in my mind, because even then I heard people who paid for parking waited hours and hours and hours for shuttles. I heard the first two days the shuttle services just failed people miserably,” said Gavin Smith of Nixa, Mo.

Most of the complaints among festivalgoers seem to surround the parking lot and campsites. Pittsylvania County’s public relations manager, Caleb Ayers, says more than 20,000 campers arrived on Wednesday, Sept. 8 for the event. That set the stage for a struggle and the event promoter reached out to them for help.

“Beginning on Friday, the event promoter actually asked Pittsylvania County to step in and assume control of all operations outside of the event grounds, so all transportation and things like that,” Ayers said. “And as the event went on things got progressively smoother in terms of transportation and logistics.”

Ayers clarified a lot of the transportation problems had to do with there not being enough shuttles to get people from the offsite parking lots to the event grounds. This resulted in many people walking through the streets to get to the festival venue.

However, Ayers assured WFXR News the event promoter will reimburse the county for the cost of their assistance so taxpayers’ money will not have to be used to cover the expenses.

Despite the “growing pains,” it seems many are considering the Blue Ridge Rock Festival a success.

“We’d probably come back. It was frustrating. We learned a lot this year. If they do it next year we will come back. We’ll just come back a lot earlier,” said Smith.

“Yeah I would. I love concerts. They’re my thing so it didn’t bother me that much. I like to rock out,” Hogan said. “Hopefully if they do it again next year here they’ll have it a little more setup.”

Pittsylvania County released a statement about the event on Monday, Sept. 13:

Pittsylvania County staff and many other regulating agencies worked tirelessly with Purpose Driven Events over the past several months to review plans for the Blue Ridge Rock Festival, which ran from September 9-12. As the first event of this scale in Pittsylvania County’s history, this four-day music festival, which was attended by approximately 33,000 fans daily, was extremely successful and will serve as a springboard for future events.

When in excess of 20,000 campers arrived during a very short time-frame on Wednesday, the event promotor’s on-site camping and traffic vendors were overwhelmed. At the request of Purpose Driven Events, Pittsylvania County assumed control of all operations outside of the event gates, including transportation services, beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday. That shift led to immediate and sustained improvement for the remainder of the festival, with each day proceeding smoother than the day before. After some difficulties early in the festival, operations on Saturday and Sunday were flawless.

Thanks to the tireless work of hundreds from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Pittsylvania County Public Safety, Virginia Department of Transportation, and members of the County’s volunteer fire and rescue agencies, the event proceeded without major incidents. There were minimal law enforcement incidents outside of and inside the event grounds, which is a testament to the careful planning and excellent execution from the many regulating agencies that were involved and a testament to the fans, who were courteous, helpful and largely positive about the way the event improved each day. All direct costs of services from Pittsylvania County and other regulating agencies are being reimbursed by Purpose Driven Events.

While the numbers will not be in for another week, the food and beverage tax that Pittsylvania County will receive should be in excess of $100,000. The Blue Ridge Rock Festival undoubtedly had a positive economic impact on not just Pittsylvania County and businesses within Pittsylvania County, but the entire region. Pittsylvania County leaders are thrilled that Pittsylvania County is home to the Blue Ridge Ampitheater and look forward to working with Purpose Driven Events on future events and music festivals.

Caleb Ayers, Pittsylvania County public relations manager

Attendees and area residents are encouraged to submit their feedback about the festival to the Pittsylvania County website.

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