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With approval from board, region ready to rock for largest event in Pittsylvania County's history
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With approval from board, region ready to rock for largest event in Pittsylvania County's history

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It’s official. The Blue Ridge Rock Festival is coming to Blue Ridge Amphitheater in Blairs for four days in September, and close to 50,000 people are expected to attend.

“As far as we are aware, this is the largest event of this type in Pittsylvania County’s history,” said Pittsylvania County spokesperson Caleb Ayers.

More than 180 bands will perform on six stages at the festival from Sept. 9-12, according to the event’s website. Acts include Anthrax, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Limp Bizkit, Megadeth, Bush, Lamb of God, Cypress Hill, Seether, Ludacris, T-Pain, Body County, Lil John and Rev Run (from Run-DMC).

The event appears to be filling up hotel rooms throughout the region on those dates. An online search found several establishments booked up on the dates of the festival.

Rooms were unavailable for Sept. 9-12 at Holiday Inn Express both in Danville and Reidsville, N.C.; Comfort Inn & Suites near Danville Mall; Hampton Inn in Danville and Gretna; Quality Inn in Danville; Super 8 by Wyndham in Danville; Best Western Windsor Inn & Suites in Danville; and Days Inn by Wyndham in Altavista in Campbell County.

The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a permit for the festival during its meeting Tuesday night in Chatham, providing the last piece of the musical puzzle to make the festival a reality.

Promoters with Purpose Driven Events, which owns the amphitheater, anticipates about 35,000 people will attend the festival per day, “but that doesn’t mean 140,000-160,000 people will be attending,” Ayers pointed out.

“About 20,000 of the attendees will be camping there,” he said. “Those who camp will check in on Wednesday and check out on Monday — and are required to stay for the whole event. Many others will stay in the area and attend all four days.”

Ayers added that he believed close to 50,000 will attend in total over the four days.

Formerly known as White Oak Mountain Amphitheater, Purpose Driven Events purchased the venue in March. Repeated attempts to reach representatives with Purpose Driven Events via telephone and email were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Conditions

The board’s approval of the permit came with several conditions including final approval of traffic and parking plans from the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Transportation. They are still being finalized.

“These items do not merit withholding approval or denying the permit application, but they are things that will be worked out with all the regulating agencies as we get closer to the event,” Pittsylvania County community development director Emily Ragsdale said during the meeting.

The traffic and parking plan is the only plan related to the event that has not been formally approved, Ayers said. The board approved the permit because Purpose Driven Events received signatures from all relevant regulating agencies for their plans.

“We have gone above and beyond our due diligence with both the revisions of our music festival ordinance and in our consideration of the application for the Blue Ridge Rock Festival,” Bob Warren, chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, said in a prepared statement. “I am confident that all of the planning will allow this event, as well as the two that were previously permitted, to proceed safely and efficiently.”

The Blue Ridge Rock Festival is the third and largest music festival at the Blue Ridge Amphitheater in Blairs that has received a permit from the board.

During a special called meeting on June 22, supervisors approved permits for Worship at the Mountain — a three-day Christian Music festival expected to draw in more than 8,000 — and the Blue Ridge Country Festival, which is also expected to have more than 10,000 attendees. Worship at the Mountain is scheduled for Sept. 3-5 and the Blue Ridge Country Festival is scheduled for Oct. 1-3.

New ordinance

Pittsylvania County leaders spent months reviewing and updating its music festival ordinance, which was created in the 1970s and hadn’t been thoroughly revised since then.

The board held a public hearing at their June 15 meeting before approving the comprehensive revision.

Under the new code, event promoters are required to submit extensive plans regarding everything from public safety to trash and traffic to EMS for any music festival.

Those plans have to be approved by the relevant regulating agencies and then the entire permit application has to be approved by the board.

The purpose of the revisions and rigorous permitting process was to ensure that large-scale events could proceed safely and efficiently for all involved and the community as a whole.

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