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Best Fests: Underground Festivals

They may fly under the radar, but not for long. Get off the beaten path with these underground festivals:

Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival

May 24-26
Martinsville, Va. 

Basics: Organizers host this growing event at the Blue Mountain Festival Grounds to commemorate the lives of two lost friends. If you find huge crowds to be a drag, consider this low-key weekend that features an impressive line-up of roots music held in the scenic foothills of Martinsville—a former furniture mecca making a comeback through arts and outdoor rec.

Bands: Every year Rooster Walk’s line-up has gradually improved, and this year is no exception with the addition of Colorado slamgrass heroes Leftover Salmon and high-energy New Orleans funk outfit Dumpstaphunk. Also catch Yarn, Larry Keel, and Dangermuffin.

Set Break Escape: No need to leave the festival grounds to stretch your legs. On Sunday, the fest hosts the Tuff Strutter 5K—billed as one of the toughest trail runs on the East Coast.


Briar Patch Music Festival
May 30—June 1
Damascus, Ga.

The road to Damascus will lead you to a Southern jam rock orgy featuring American Aquarium, Col. Bruce Hampton, Rollin’ in the Hay, and many more. 

Appalachian Uprising
May 30-June 1
Scottown, Ohio

This progressive bluegrass throwdown continually brings impressive line-ups to the Appalachians of Ohio. This year catch Del McCoury, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mountain Heart, and Larry Keel.

Blueberry Jam Festival
June 21-22
Wakefield, Va.

Located on a blueberry farm in the rural stretch between Richmond and Hampton Roads, this growing fest features a range of tunes from jam to blues to bluegrass and a big focus on local food. This year’s fest is headlined by The Mantras and BIG Something Friday night, and Dopapod on Saturday night.

The Big What Festival
July 4-6
Possum Holler, N.C.

Head into the woods, just west of the Triangle, for three days of jams from Big Something, Zach Deputy, Dopapod, The Mantras, and Big Daddy Love. Bonus—onsite disc golf course. 

Front Porch Fest
August 30—September 1
Stuart, Va.

Created as a mellow campout between friends, Front Porch Fest has developed into a three-day roots music gala on the idyllic 130-acre Spirit Haven Farm in Patrick County—known as the front porch of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Check out the rest of our Outdoor Festival Guide!


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