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Organizer of Blue Ridge Rock and Country festivals speaks out after fan frustrations

‘We had been in consistent communication with the county and information was together,’ said Jonathan Slye

The head of the the Blue Ridge Rock and Country festivals is finally speaking out after the two events left fans frustrated.
The head of the the Blue Ridge Rock and Country festivals is finally speaking out after the two events left fans frustrated.

PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. – Jonathan Slye, the CEO of Purpose Driven Events and organizer of the Blue Ridge Rock and Country Festivals, is speaking out after the two events left ticketholders frustrated.

It’s his first television interview since before September’s Rock Fest, and you’ll only find it on 10 News.

“I really wanted to make sure that I could connect with all the different departments, connect with everything, and get all the information together soundly before I was ready to come forward,” said Slye.

The latest issue involved the Blue Ridge Country Festival, originally scheduled for Oct. 1-3, and now postponed until May 2022.

Slye claims the main reason is that Southside health officials encouraged him to take the precaution, with hospitals and other treatment centers at capacity due to COVID-19.

“Ultimately, that was why a mutual decision was reached, that we would be much safer off to postpone to a later date,” said Slye.

Pittsylvania County spokesperson, Caleb Ayers, tells us Slye informed them of the postponement on Sept. 22, and they approved a statement from Purpose Driven Events stating that local health leaders urged the postponement.

Meanwhile, frustration grew over conflicting reports on whether Slye had the proper permits for the festival.

Slye says he received a letter from the county on Sept. 21 saying permits had been rescinded.

County leaders declined a 10 News request for an interview but released a statement saying the permits were “conditionally approved” in June with the stipulation that Syle’s company submits completed plans.

Slye says he was thrown off by the letter, which required seven elements.

“Two of those elements were brand new, the first time we’d ever seen them. [For] the remaining five, the vast majority had been completed. We had been in consistent communication with the county and information was together,” said Slye, who provided documentation to 10 News to show his attempt at finalizing plans.

The county’s Sept. 21 letter also said the company was past due on paying the meals tax for their previous rock and worship festivals.

According to the ordinance on the county’s website, that deadline is Oct. 20.

The county’s spokesperson tells 10 News this was, in fact, a miscommunication and that the meals tax from those festivals was paid.

Slye released a statement regarding the past due bills on Tuesday, saying:

Purpose Driven Events will pay all costs actually accrued by the county. We are examining the specifics of all charges, and are working to ensure that this matter is resolved to mutual satisfaction. The County is still holding six figures in liquid cash that we provided to them directly. The amount they are holding more than supersedes the amount we have been billed. Blue Ridge Rock Festival has already made an impact of over $23 million on the local municipality this year through a seven figure investment in local businesses, nearly a million dollars in hotel reservations, as well as substantial tax revenue, permitting fees, over 1,300 employees or contractors, and overall commerce generated from bringing tens of thousands to the local area.

We’ve requested additional information from Pittsylvania County through the Freedom of Information Act and are waiting to hear back.

10 News will air part two of the interview on Wednesday, Oct. 13th. Syle will discuss what happened with the rock festival and who is to blame.


About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.