Music Festival Helps Small Virginia Town Grow

You might not expect to find some of the biggest names in indie and folk rock playing at a dot on the map in Southwest Virginia, but the town of Floyd is bringing them in. Bands like the Lumineers and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros typically play to sold-out crowds in much bigger cities around the world, but next month they will be joining dozens of other musicians at FloydFest. Music festivals are growing in popularity, but they're typically found in larger metropolitan areas. Floyd has a population of under 500 people – so what effect does an influx of over 10,000 tourists at once have? According to an article in the Roanoke Times, it's a positive one. The owner of the single hotel in town books rooms a year in advance of the festival, and plans to expand. People traveling hundreds of miles for a festival that costs hundreds of dollars generally have money to spend on other amenities. From the article: 

 “Some people come in the Monday before to get settled and to go around the town,” Wall said.

That means they’re spending money, eating and shopping in the area longer than just the festival’s four days.

“FloydFest is good for just about everyone here,” said Jim Newlin, a manager of the store Republic of Floyd . “People sometimes come just to get a little break when they visit here. But the businesses prepare for it.”

Floyd is no stranger to music – there are typically mountain music jam sessions every weekend at the Floyd Country Store (I remember attending a few myself when I was at college in the area), and the town is part of Virginia's Crooked Road Music Heritage Trail. It recently hosted the Blue Ridge Music Festival, a series of classical music concerts.

Events like this can be huge boosts for tourism, bringing in people who otherwise might never have set foot in Floyd to see what the area has to offer. The challenge, of course, is in ensuring that the town can handle the crowds, that the visitors respect the town, and that any growth that might happen occurs with the participation of those who live there. But when correctly managed, music festivals or other events can have a positive impact, as in Floyd. "Keeping the local flavor vibrant, no matter how many visitors flood the region, is important to Floyd business owners — especially the younger ones," says the article. 

And for those of you hoping to score a ticket to FloydFest, you'll have to try again next year – the whole four days are completely sold out.

Photo of downtown Floyd by flickr user UGArdener and used under Creative Commons license.