Most bluegrass fans know Floyd, Virginia for its prominence on the Crooked Road music trail, the weekly music shows held at the Floyd Country Store, and for one of the greatest places on earth to buy music, County Sales. However, I predict that very soon the Chantilly Farm Bluegrass & BBQ Festival will become one of the first things people think of when they think about Floyd. On May 22 and 23, bluegrass lovers from not only the surrounding region but even as far away as Canada made their way to southwest Virginia for a very enjoyable weekend.
Admittedly, this is the first festival I have attended at Chantilly Farm, and from what I understand it is also the venue’s first year offering a two-day festival experience complete with camping and other activities. I’m not going to say that there aren’t any improvements to be made (for instance, we had a few difficulties with our tent camping site that were quickly fixed), but the venue is definitely doing a lot of things right. When the biggest complaint from the many festival goers I spoke with was that a few of them couldn’t find the funnel cake guy, that’s really no big deal. One thing I did notice was the absence of event merchandise, which I am told will hopefully be available next year. I definitely would have purchased a poster and t-shirt had they been for sale!
The festival’s lineup was first class all the way, and the festival workers certainly aim to please. While most of the acts leaned toward the traditional side of bluegrass, both older and younger fans alike seemed to enjoy groups like Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, the Lost & Found, Lonesome River Band, and Adkins & Loudermilk. I had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Brown (of southwest Virginia’s Jeff Brown and Still Lonesome, who performed on Saturday) after the close of the festival, and he was ecstatic about the experience. “All I can say is wow!” Brown said. “Chantilly Farm Bluegrass and BBQ Festival is quickly becoming one of the elite festivals on the circuit. We enjoyed performing there immensely.”
Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, who have performed at the festival for the past several years, made their debut this year with Chantilly Farm as their “home” festival. Sisk, whose band took the stage on both Friday and Saturday, expressed his appreciation to those behind the scenes at the festival. “I would like to thank David and Gaynell Larson, Jason Gallimore, Dee, and all the wonderful people who worked so hard at the Chantilly Farm Bluegrass and BBQ this weekend,” he said. “We had two beautiful days filled with great music and enthusiastic fans. We look forward to doing it again next year.”
Jason Gallimore, Chantilly Farm’s director of marketing and public relations, seemed to be everywhere throughout the weekend, making sure artists, fans, and volunteers all had what they needed for an enjoyable weekend. He also offered words of thanks after the festival. “First and foremost, we are so appreciative of our fans, sponsors, volunteers, and staff for coming together to make this our biggest event yet,” he said. “We couldn’t pull this off without our community being behind us and we’re truly blessed to have their support.
According to Gallimore, although they have received lots of positive feedback about the weekend, they are always open to suggestions and looking for areas that might need improvement. He said that Chantilly Farm encourages festival attendees to let them know what they liked, and what could make the festival better. “We always try to build our lineup based on the feedback of our fans and always welcome fans’ suggestions,” he said.
It was great to look out over the crowd and see kids flying kites and tossing footballs, folks carrying recently purchased arts and crafts from the vendors lining the hillside, and the many people dancing throughout the crowd. Although the cool temperatures had folks rushing to grab blankets and coats, it seemed that overall, most attendees had a good experience. I know I’m looking forward to next year!