Enjoy The Festy Experience this October

Gwen Woolf

photo by John Scarpati

Call it a “boutique” music festival. The Festy Experience is meant to be on the small side, and offers a safe outdoor environment for the whole family while hosting live Americana, bluegrass, and country music. This year’s event, scheduled Oct. 7–9, will be in a new, expanded location in Arrington, Va., in Nelson County between Charlottesville and Lynchburg.

“It’s quite a charming little festival with a very solid personality,” said Collean Laney, who promotes the nonprofit event.

The seventh annual event moves 20 miles from the Devils Backbone Basecamp to a new location at the Nelson County Preserve, about a 150-mile drive from Washington, D.C. This property, off State Route 29 in the Blue Ridge Mountains, occupies 30 percent of the much-larger LOCKN’ Music Festival.

The Festy, which seemed a bit cramped on less than 50 acres in the past, now has permanent infrastructure and access to 350 acres, with lots of space for parking, camping, outdoor activities, and vendors, according to Laney.

photo by John Scarpati
photo by John Scarpati

“It’s a good home for us,” she said.

About 5,000 people attended last year, and organizers intend to keep the event small to allow more flexibility in activities and no competing music during a concert, Laney said.

The Infamous Stringdusters will again host the event and play three sets — including a special set featuring guest singers such as Nicki Bluhm — from their latest album, Ladies and Gentlemen. Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Jim Lauderdale will serve as master of ceremonies. Also on tap are Sam Bush, the father of modern bluegrass; Mary Chapin Carpenter, an acclaimed singer and native of Nelson County; country artist Lee Ann Womack; and banjo stars Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn.

Also in the lineup are: North Missisippi Allstars, Anders Osborne, Rubblebucket, Elephant Revival, Steep Canyon Rangers, Sara Watkins, Cabinet, Nikki Lane, Dar Williams, Fruition, David Wax Museum, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Emi Sunshine, Eagle Eye Williamson, The Lil’ Smokies, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Gallatin Canyon, River Whyless, Jon Stickley Trio, Old Salt Union, Lord Nelson, Hogwaller Ramblers, and the Garrett Grass Gospel Hour.

The variety of offerings of craft food, beer, and retailers will be enlarged this year.

Many local food trucks will be on hand, and the festival will update its sustainability program by promoting canned beverages.

Unlike mainstream music festivals, parents are encouraged to bring their kids to The Festy, lured by a “very dynamic” activity program, according to Laney. Activities include a kids’ zone, yoga, music workshops with the artists, disc golf, Ultimate Frisbee, kickball, soccer, volleyball, guided nature tours, trail runs, hosted bike rides, and a 5K/10K run.

A variety of camping possibilities are meant to entice families. Participants can set up their own tents in the forest, camp next to their cars, or park RVs. On-site facilities also can be rented, including tents and shelters for “glamping.” There’s also a camping site for special-needs guests.

Day passes are available for those who wish to stay elsewhere in the area.


The festival:

What: The Festy Experience

When: Oct. 7–9

Where: Nelson County Preserve, 1510 Diggs Mountain Road, Arrington, Va.

Tickets/info: thefesty.com, (434) 220-4000

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