After 19 years, Floydfest organizers have the festival down to an art, and art is what they spotlight, whether through music, performance arts, installations, woodsy ambiance or artisan food, crafts and libations.
Floyd-festers come to the festival’s 80-acre mountain for the music, but they also come for the communal experience, and for the special artistic touches that play into yearly themes. This year’s five-day festival (July 24-28) theme is “Voyage Home” and features an old-school sailing ship with a mermaid at the bough as its logo. The theme figures into the larger-than-life main field art installation that festival-goers have come to look forward to.
“This festival is a pilgrimage and a sanctuary for so many people who have spent years coming back here, so it really is a voyage home,” explained Floydfest’s Chief Operating Officer Sam Calhoun at a recent work day on site.
“It’s more important than ever to have a space to come and connect,” he continued, noting that all sorts of people from all walks of life come together at Floydfest to share and connect. Some kids that grew up coming to the family-friendly festival are teenagers or adults now.
Speaking about this year’s music highlights, Calhoun immediately mentioned Thursday night’s headlining Grammy winner Brandi Carlile. “Brandi Carlile has been on this mountain four times now. We’ve watched her art and person grow. To see her, not only win a Grammy but enchanting the Grammy crowd, was such a kudos to what we create at Floydfest. We got behind Brandi before others did,” he said.
Another big Grammy winning headliner, Kacey Musgraves, plays on Sunday, along with Grammy nominated Margo Price, both outstanding country singer/songwriters. Sunday’s ‘female power line-up’ will be capped with Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real.
Calhoun also mentioned Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh (playing Thursday), referring to Lesh as a “historic talent,” and Friday’s Kentucky singer/songwriter Tyler Childress. “He’s going to be playing big arenas before we know it. He sells out across the country,” Calhoun said.
Saturday’s headlining musical performance is The String Cheese Incident, “the torch bearer of the progressive jam band scene.” They’re scheduled to play two back-to-back sets, leading into the 4th edition of the Buffalo Mountain Jam collective. Buffalo Mountain Jam is special to Floydfest because they came together when Greg Allman, who died in 2017, was scheduled to perform but cancelled due to illness.
With eight stages and five days (30 percent of patrons arrive on Wednesday) there promises to be much music to discover and enjoy and so much more to see. Calhoun recommends getting tickets soon (at Floydfest.com), as they are close to selling out. Happy Voyaging.