Blue Highway Fest launches in Virginia

A new two-day bluegrass festival hosted by perennial favorites Blue Highway will debut this fall in southwestern Virginia.

Blue Highway Fest will premiere October 7-8 in Big Stone Gap, a small community of less than 6,000 located in Wise County, near the far western tip of the state. This part of Virginia has suffered greatly from the loss of coal mining jobs, and municipal authorities are hopeful that the festival will help bring more vitality back to the region.

Tim Stafford, guitarist with Blue Highway, tells us that the festival is the brain child of Wise, VA attorney Larry Roberts, a big lover of bluegrass and all sorts of roots music, and great fan of the band. He comes to the event business naturally, as his older brother, Glenn Roberts, now deceased, put on the Wise County Shriner’s Bluegrass Festival during the 1970s, which Stafford says was the first he ever attended.

Big Stone Gap is close to the Tri-Cities of east Tennessee, as well as the bluegrass rich areas of eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia which gave us The Stanley Brothers and Jim & Jesse. 

Tim says that plans for this new festival have been in the works for some time, and credits Roberts for getting it done.

“Larry has been a tremendous asset for this whole operation. We met with town leaders and others and started talking about this last year, and have been meeting every week since to hammer down. The town of Big Stone Gap is 100% behind us and is a GREAT partner. We were able to get lots of our ‘bucket list’ folks on board and it’s gonna be a blast.”

That bucket list of artists includes Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Earls of Leicester, Sierra Hull, Seldom Scene, Balsam Range, Larry Sparks, and local hero, Ralph Stanley II. Of course Blue Highway will perform both days as well.

Blue Highway Fest will be hosted in Bullitt Park, located along the Powell River, which offers a variety of recreational activities for when you aren’t listening to music. Rough camping and RV hookups will be available, and food and craft beer vendors will be set up on site.

Tickets will be available soon. Keep an eye on the festival web site for details.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.