ROANOKE, Va. – The Go Outside Festival has gone the socially-distant route this year because of COVID-19, except for one major exception.
The annual event from the Roanoke Outside Foundation often attracts tens of thousands of people to Rivers Edge Park, but organizer Julia Boas said it is impossible to replicate the usual GO Fest this year.
“There’s no replacement for that, and we’re not trying to replace that," Boas said. "What we’re trying to do is make sure we can have GO Fest again in the future.”
GO Fest relied on small outdoor events across the region instead of large gatherings, except for two benefit concerts at Maher Field. Boas said the festival took every precaution to keep the concert crowd as spread out as possible.
“They’re ushered to their pod, a 12 by 12-foot space," Boas said. “All the food and alcohol and alcohol is delivered to that pod and ordered through an app, so that there is no contact.”
The Roanoke Outside Foundation raised more than $100,000 leading up to and during GO Fest, and its smaller events contributed to the total.
A cyclocross course at Fallon Park raised $5 for every lap a racer completed. Course organizer Kerry Warren aimed to raise more than $2,500 from the racers.
“There’s no competitions because of COVID-19, so with no races this year, the people who are fortunate enough can then redirect their race registration money," Warren said. “The bittersweet thing is that means we have to do more laps, but it’s all for a good cause, so it’s fine.”
Boas said GO Fest will likely return in its normal form next year, but is satisfied people adjusted to the new format this year.
“I’m proud of everybody for coming together," Boas said. "Not just for the way they respected the rules we set in place for this event, but also for being willing to come out and support it.”