HALIFAX COUNTY, Va. – Rock music is coming to the raceway.
Organizers announced Friday they’re relocating the Blue Ridge Rock Festival from Pittsylvania County to the Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in Halifax County -- after facing challenges in 2021, including long lines for parking, camping, permits and vendors.
“They admitted a lot of the things that they struggled with [last year] and a lot of the problems they were presented with; and they said, ‘hey, we need help. Here’s a facility that has knowledgeable people,” said Kerrigan Smith, President and COO of VIR.
It’s a facility Smith says hosts different events almost year-round.
They’re still in the early planning, but there will be no racing or other activities that weekend. On-site hotels will also be off-limits to the public so organizers can focus on the festival.
Smith says this will be the first time VIR hosts a music event of this magnitude, but he’s confident they’ll use all 1,300 acres of land to hold a successful event.
According to a Facebook post, Blue Ridge Rock Festival plans on having five stages and nearly 170 artists from Sept. 8 through 11.
While the raceway will only serve as the location, Smith says they’ll help organizers connect with local vendors.
“We’re using a lot of our local connections that we have, that we’ve developed over the last 20 years with people, to be able to introduce [organizers] to other vendors and people that we do business with on a regular basis,” said Smith.
Blue Ridge Rock Fest organizers declined our request for an interview, but answered the following questions in a statement:
How do you feel about the new venue?
Blue Ridge Rock Festival is absolutely ecstatic to come to Virginia International Raceway. This is the first time in the Festival’s history where the event will be held at a large-scale, full-time event venue with significant infrastructure and personnel. From ambulances to buildings to fuel, there is a reason why many Festivals across the country are finding real success at Raceways. The challenge of building everything from scratch and trying to fit a square peg in a round hole each year logistically, at various farms in the region, was simply not suitable for the size the event has grown to. According to the music industry’s year-end Festival rankings, Blue Ridge was one of the ten highest-attended Festivals in the Country last year. We felt this move was a necessity in order to elevate the Festival’s experience for both artists and fans alike.
How confident are you about this year’s event and working out any issues you faced last year?
Aside from the new venue, we have made massive changes internally. We have parted ways with dozens of the third-party companies in charge of various areas of the Festival. We have worked diligently over the last few months to recruit a variety of new entities and high-level personnel that have produced Festivals of this stature for decades now.
It’s a festival the raceway hopes will earn a victory lap.
“We wouldn’t be going into this adventure if we thought we were going to fail,” said Smith.