Blue Ridge Rock Festival organizer, Pittsylvania County officials spar over $337K festival bill

Southside Virginia News

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Pittsylvania County officials say they want to set the record straight over the Blue Ridge Rock Festival after the event organizer spoke out about a bill from the county for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As allowed by the county’s music festival ordinance, Pittsylvania County officials say they billed Purpose Driven Events $337,592.29 for all costs incurred during the Worship at the Mountain festival over Labor Day weekend, as well as the Blue Ridge Rock Festival from Sept. 9-12.

Many of the county’s costs – such as EMS, Public Safety, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, and permit fees – were reportedly planned.

However, according to a statement released by the county on Oct. 12, “many billed costs were unplanned and occurred due to insufficient performance from Purpose Driven Events’ vendors. Beginning the second morning of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Purpose Driven Events requested that Pittsylvania County take over all operations outside of the festival grounds, including transportation services, sanitation, and traffic control. The County remained in control for the remainder of the festival.”

Jonathan Slye with Purpose Driven Events told the Chatham Star-Tribune that he was “blindsided” by the invoice when received it in late September.

Pittsylvania County says the roughly $337,000 bill it sent to Purpose Driven Events was for money the county spent to make sure the event was safe.

Slye called the county’s rates unreasonable, but in a podcast, Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman said there were major safety concerns, especially over pedestrians walking to the venue.

“We had to use emergency operation techniques, emergency procurement, we had to pull out all the stops To help Mr. Slye,” Smitherman said. “It is disheartening and discouraging to be disparaged while, at the time, we were the only friends Mr. Slye had.”

As of this writing, county officials say Purpose Driven Events has paid the invoice.

You can hear Smitherman’s entire interview on the “PittCo Happenings” podcast, as well as read more about what happened behind-the-scenes during the Blue Ridge Rock Festival by clicking here.

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