By Jenna Lazenby
This weekend more than 30,000 athletes, adventure seekers, music lovers, and craft beer enthusiasts will converge in Roanoke’s River’s Edge Park for the 6th Annual Anthem Go Outside Festival, which kicks off Friday night and runs through Sunday, Oct. 14 – 16, highlighting the best of our region’s outdoor recreational activities.
This year, the festival is going even bigger with a new partnership to make live music more of an integral part of the offerings. The creators of the event, the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke City Parks and Rec, have teamed up with the annual producers of FloydFest, Across the Way Productions, to bring in top-quality musical acts. While all music is still free to festival goers, this year’s Go Fest music lineup will be the best yet.
The music starts at 7:00 on Friday night with live tunes by Uncle John and Friends, led by local musician John McBroom. Then on Saturday, the Cox music main stage features back-to-back shows by the FloydFest On the Rise winners, Urban Soil and Rebekah Todd and the Odyssey, two North Carolina Americana soul bands. Rock reggae group Dale and the Z Dubs play another 45-minute set before the main headliner, instrumental funk band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, takes the stage at 9:00. Denson, a master saxophonist, has toured with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, the Rolling Stones, and acid jazz DJ Greyboy.
“FloydFest and Roanoke Outside have been working for several years to marry our brands,” said Kris Hodges, co-founder of FloydFest. “This year was the perfect time to take it to the next level. We are bringing the best of what we do on the mountain to Roanoke. At Go Fest, we’ll be re-creating that same FloydFest experience and ambiance. It’s going to be just like walking onto one of the FloydFest stages.”
Eleven local artists will get their time in the spotlight at Go Fest too, as local radio station, 101.5 The Valley’s Music Place, hosts an acoustic stage that runs from late morning to mid-afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, ENO is putting on a silent disco several times throughout the festival that features a lotus lounge with a DJ spinning tunes in the center.
Go Fest was originally started in 2011 to showcase the best of what Roanoke has to offer in outdoor amenities to people in the region and beyond. What started as a one-day festival with a turnout of about 4,500 people has grown into a full-blown, three-day event that features everything from fly fishing and mountain bike demos, to lumberjack and BMX stunt shows, air dogs, slacklines, foot races, beer relays and Frisbee golf tournaments, to yoga and barre classes, cooking demonstrations and wilderness survival training
Patrick Boas, Roanoke Parks and Rec Outdoor Education Coordinator and one of the festival’s key organizers commented, “We are always looking for ways to grow, yet still maintain a quality festival experience. The daytime hours are already packed with activities, but this year we really wanted to develop the night scene with a greater focus on live music. Music is always a huge attractor and Across the Way Productions has the pull and resources to help bring people in from all over. Plus, beer sales are one of our greatest revenue generators, which helps us keep the festival free to the community.”
In addition to the beer sales, vendor fees and sponsorships are the other key contributors to what keeps Go Fest free to the community. Vendors span the gamut from bike and retail shops, to food and outdoor clubs, and all are encouraged to provide hands-on experiences to festival goers and encourage people to touch, feel, and try new things.
Go Fest is a kid-friendly and dog-friendly event, and options are available for camping on-site. This year the festival features by-up experiences with a 28-tent “Glamping Zone,” a VIP music package, and a Cast Iron and Craft Beer dinner featuring beer by Roanoke new-comer Deschutes Brewery and food prepared by local renowned chef Aaron Deel.
Currently the weather looks to be just about perfect for an outdoor fall event with plenty of sunshine and temps in the upper sixties on the horizon. Online you can find complete festival details and a schedule of all the incredible recreational activities and music that Go Fest is dialing up for the weekend ahead.