Four Blue Ridge Festivals in 40 Days

It’s an open secret that exposes a greater truth: FloydFest, the 19-year-old world music and arts festival held annually in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, is held not in Floyd County after all, but in neighboring Patrick County.

The fact that FloydFest, which has built an international reputation for its gorgeous mountain setting, enthusiastic audiences and world-renowned performers, takes place in Patrick County shouldn’t actually be a surprise, given the county’s long history as a mountain music mecca.

Residents of Patrick County have been making music for centuries, which accounts for the county’s inclusion on Virginia’s Crooked Road music heritage trail. FloydFest, the Stables Saloon at Primland, and Willis Gap Community Center all are listed as Crooked Road venues, and two more sites are showcased in wayside exhibits.

The county’s largest festival today is FloydFest, which draws about 15,000 people annually and this year takes place July 24-28. FloydFest brings world-class music, art and culture to an intimate, visually stunning setting amid the mountains just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The festival has something for everyone, from big-name acts to off-kilter jam sessions, from local food to global music.

FloydFest’s lineups are always stellar—this year’s headliners include Kacey Musgraves, the String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile and longtime Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. What keeps fans coming back, however, is the opportunity to see these amazing artists play in an amazing mountain setting on the Blue Ridge Parkway, surrounded by the close-knit community endemic to the region. One-man jam band Keller Williams exemplifies the festival’s aesthetic: during a given FloydFest, Williams oscillates between playing solo sets to large crowds, thrilling a younger audience in the Children’s Universe, and throwing down in superstar collaborations during the Buffalo Mountain Jam.

FloydFest stands out in terms of size, but it’s hardly the only festival happening this summer in Patrick County, where Virginia’s Blue Ridge meets the Piedmont.

For example, Patrick County’s long-running Virginia Peach Festival takes place in Stuart on Friday, August 16. The festival began in 1988 as a way to spotlight the county’s abundant peach crop. 2019 is shaping up as a tremendous year for fruit growers, and there’s no better way to savor southwest Virginia’s juicy peaches than at the festival.

The Virginia Peach Festival features peach desserts, peach ice cream and peach-flavored drinks, as well as a craft fair, historical demonstrations, and access to a swimming pool. The region’s peach orchards are represented, and barbecue is available as well.

On August 19, The Meadows of Dan Folk Fair shows off the arts, crafts and eats of a small mountain town whose roots run deep. Since 2005, the fair has enchanted visitors with horse-drawn rides, musical jam sessions, the performance of a play, several music venues, old-time craft demonstrations, a fudge factory, peanut-butter making with a copper kettle, and children’s activities. If you missed the Virginia Peach Festival, the folk fair’s scheduling in late summer offers a second chance to enjoy Patrick County’s famous peaches, which are featured in pies, ice cream and more.

Patrick County’s series of summer festivals wraps up over Labor Day weekend with the 11th annual Front Porch Fest , a 4-day family-friendly music festival held outside Stuart at Spirithaven Farm. The festival began as a going-away party for a friend of the founders, but became an annual event. Front Porch Fest showcases more than 30 local, regional, and national touring acts, plus an array of children’s activities, yoga, on-site camping, campsite jams, craft beer, food and more. The 2019 lineup is headlined by Donna the Buffalo, the Larry Keel Experience, Dangermuffin, the Lee Boys and Folk Soul Revival.

While visiting one of these festivals, make sure to take some time to explore the rest of what Patrick County has to offer. Check out singletrack mountain-biking trails at I.C. DeHart Park, or fish one of the county’s many rivers and creeks. Tour lovely covered bridges and take in soaring vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Or take it slow at a local winery or bed and breakfast. From rugged outdoors to 5-star luxury, Patrick County has something for everyone. Come experience the simple life.

Places to Go, Things to See: