Two Sierras are high on FloydFest’s list of 2024 performers.
Sierra Ferrell, a magnetic performer who channels multiple American roots styles, and mandolin master Sierra Hull will help the festival begin its new era in a new location — more than a year after regulatory permitting issues forced FloydFest to cancel.
The event’s chief operating officer, Sam Calhoun, said in a Wednesday morning interview that contractors at the site have made “extraordinary progress, extraordinarily quickly.”
“And so the venue itself, almost all the roads are completed down there,” Calhoun said. “Every day, we go and check out the new progress, and it just blows our mind, really. We’re right on schedule. In fact, knocking on wood, we’re a little ahead of schedule right now. … So it’s just wild to see the progress and to see the dream come to reality.”
Ferrell will headline an all-female main stage lineup on Friday, and Hull is playing FloydFest the same day. Festival organizers will reveal the other headliners in a series of announcements to come, with the next scheduled in a couple of weeks, Calhoun said.
That’s a contrast from November 2022, when all of the main stage headliners — The Black Crowes, My Morning Jacket, Sheryl Crow and Goose — splashed into patrons’ and reporters’ in-boxes. It was a one-time thing, and organizers are returning to past form with the slower roll-out.
Not that the rest of Wednesday’s announcement lacks quality. Circles Around the Sun, Maggie Rose, Orgone, Sons of the East, The Hip Abduction, The Heavy Heavy, Town Mountain, Cat Clyde, The Vegabonds, Caitlin Krisko & The Broadcast, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, Sexbruise?, The Wilson Springs Hotel and the two top finishers in 2020’s On-the-Rise contest — Palmyra and The Jared Stout Band — round out the list.
Organizers canceled this year’s festival in April, after failing to receive a state stormwater drainage permit. Two months later, festival co-founder and talent buyer Kris Hodges left the organization. FloydFest has promoted his one-time assistant, Lindsey Button Hynes, and brought on board longtime talent buyer Gary Jackson (Harvester Performance Center, Kirk Avenue Music Hall, The Coves Amphitheater) to book the performers.
Calhoun said that both of them work with him and CFO Jessica Taylor to solidify the lineup, which is almost completely booked.
“Gary and Button are really handling the heaviest load on this,” he said. “Jessica and I are there to give input at every corner. And you know, Jessica and I have been around and kind of like guarded the FloydFest brand the longest, if you will. And so we’re there to kind of just keep the ship steered in the proper direction.”
After the cancellation, 70% of ticket buyers rolled their purchases over to the 2024 event. FloydFest will cap attendance at 10,000, so there are about 3,000 tickets left to purchase, Calhoun said.
While lots of stars will hit the festival’s stages, the site itself is a star, Calhoun said. Most of the stages this year will be portable, with plans for permanent ones in years to come. By festival time, though, the Higher Ground Viewing Deck and Stage will be ready to go at the festival’s geographical apex, he said.
“It’s a viewing deck that has a bar in the center and a stage in the back,” he said. “It’s kind of like our third-tier stage. And it has a viewing deck that can fit about 600 people [who can] view the entire venue from that viewing deck and listen to music and enjoy a bar.”
All patrons can park and camp at the venue; the old site, off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Patrick County, had a significant amount of offsite parking and camping.
“I just can’t get over saying … how beautiful FestivalPark is,” he said. “And you know, the mountain landscape becomes much more in focus at FestivalPark. And I say this because the last venue, we were on top of that beautiful mountain on the top of the gorge. But you didn’t really get the feel [of being surrounded by] the vistas and such like that.
“This new location, we’re kind of down in a bowl. And so you see the mountain landscapes kind of surrounding you. And it’s a very intimate, very beautiful location. And I really just can’t wait for the people to get there and to see that. And, you know, we’ve worked very hard to bring this to reality and we’re doing it for the right reasons. And we have a very good site plan. So we feel like people are really going to enjoy their experience and that goes beyond the music of the stages.”