By TMoM Team Member Kodia Byers
Music, Magic, Mountains…and Memories. So many memories!
My family recently attended FloydFest, a five-day-long celebration of music and arts featuring 100 bands and countless vendors, hot July sun (with a glorious high country breeze), tent camping and 2 kids. Being almost 8 months pregnant with baby number 3 at this event may not sound ideal to many. But for me and my family, it was pure, magical, mountaintop bliss.
FloydFest, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Virginia, is an annual music festival that features a variety of genres ranging from rock to bluegrass. Along with the music, there are plenty of activities to keep your family’s interests piqued. Local arts & crafts vendors, dance workshops, yoga, story telling, drum circles, poetry reading, and the most useful for us in this stage of life, Children’s Universe.
Each morning over a French press and breakfast at the campsite, my husband and I would discuss the “non-negotiable” performances we wanted to see. We’d also prepare our girls for the timeframe we would be away for the day. We would typically meet up with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law at the main stage and set up our gear. Then we’d hit the hotspots we were most excited about. We knew that in order to make this experience worthwhile we needed to keep our expectations of our kids’ behavior pretty low. By that I simply mean, they were going to be WAY off of any type of normal routine and we needed to keep that in mind.
To our surprise and delight they THRIVED! Our girls wanted to be as close to the front row as possible with their cousins, twirling and dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. Our feisty two-year old has even been known to try to jump on stage with the performers!
When the kids needed a little down time and the adults wanted to stay for the rest of the set, we would divide and conquer. Someone would take them back to the spot we staked out at the beginning of the day and set up a shady area for a rest. We could still enjoy the show and the kids could re energize and get their “second wind.” Luckily enough, this worked each day. The kids were able to make it pretty far into the night before completely conking out after the walk back to our tent. Then we would prepare to do it all over again the next day.
FloydFest has earned the title of “Best Festival” by Blue Ridge Outdoors, and along with that “Best Kid-Friendly Outdoor Destination.” According to the Q&A section on FloyFest’s website, “creating a sanctuary for families and children has always been a top priority for Across-the-Way Productions.” In my professional mom-opinion, they have achieved that goal tenfold.
Many times we found that our kids needed a change in scenery and a little time to recoup. Occasionally the adults needed a second to breathe and reframe our minds to keep the attitudes light and upbeat. Thankfully, Children’s Universe was the answer. FloydFest completely embraces the experience as one for the whole family and this unique section proves it.
This magic little slice of FloydFest offers activities for every age group. A nursing and changing area for the little ones, a sandbox and jungle gym for the toddlers. For the bigger kids, there is basketball and an open area to run free, as well as organized outdoor games. There were also tents with arts and crafts, workshops (Native Plant and Tree Identification, Fairy Garden Creation, Indigo Tie Dye and much, much more) a Peace Parade, and entertainment of all kinds on the stage. This includes kids open-mic, juggling and magicians. If lucky enough, you may even be there at the right time to witness multiple musicians from big name bands collaborate on the Forever Young Stage for an intimate performance for children and parents alike.
Maybe it’s that my husband and I were both born and raised in the mountains and have an undeniable love for the high country which is why our girls love the mountains just as much. Or maybe they’re just born to be festie-kids. Who knows? Either way, our family wholeheartedly embraced the Music. Magic. Mountains. of FloydFest so much that there were tears when it ended. For days after, they were begging to “go back to the music in the mountains and camp.” Less than 24 hours after being home, our group text was blowing up with plans for next year’s FloydFest23 adventure.
Was it a lot of work on the parent front? Yes. Are we completely exhausted? Also, yes. Was it worth it? Beyond yes! Every single magical second turned into the most delectable memory. The dancing, the energy, the pure bliss beaming from each of us– yes, yes, yes!
I cannot quite put into words the feeling FloydFest gives you while there and leaves you with when it’s over. All I know is there is an utter sense of intoxicating happiness that radiates throughout the entire weekend, a feeling you keep searching for when the music fades and the tents are torn down.
On the hour drive home, my husband and I were talking about the memories we made, and while we’re most certain our kids won’t remember all the details, we know we will cherish them wholeheartedly and hope they’ll always remember the feeling of Music. Magic. Mountains. that FloydFest so perfectly embodies.
A very special Thank You to our friend, Brian Swenk from Across-the-Way Productions and Big Daddy Love for making our FloydFest 22~Heartbeat experience one for the books!
Thank you to my amazing husband and awesome in-laws for dividing and conquering to make this experience incredibly memorable for every single one of us!
*Sponsored by FloydFest
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