Lively roots music and a family-friendly camping experience in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia give the Appaloosa Music Festival a communal, “barn-raising feel,” organizers say. In fact, the two main stages, constructed from reclaimed lumber, resemble old Virginia barns.
The fourth annual festival is Aug. 31–Sept. 2 (Labor Day weekend) at Skyline Ranch Resort in Front Royal, 75 miles west of Washington, D.C.
Overlooked by Signal Knob mountain, the festi- val site at 751 Mountain Road has a mixture of flat and rolling meadows and forested RV camping areas. A gently sloping amphitheater in an open field faces the stage.
Last year’s event drew 6,000 attendees despite a day of rain. Even more are expected this year since the festival was selected for the 2018 Virginia is for Music Lovers grant. The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s sponsorship program seeks to build Virginia’s reputation as a music destination.
Festival host is Scythian, a Washington-based nationally touring Celtic roots band. The Washington Post has called Scythian “Washington D.C.’s most energetic and eclectic band,” and iHeart- Radio said “Scythian has reinvented folk rock in America.”
Brothers Alexander and Danylo Fedoryka, Scythian’s frontmen and Front Royal natives, founded the festival.
Appaloosa features 20 bands, considered to be rising stars in the bluegrass, Americana, and Celtic styles of music. Most are touring bands from across the country, along with a few regional acts.
In addition to headliners Scythian, Gaelic Storm, and Mandolin Orange, the lineup includes Town Mountain, Humming House, Six-String Soldiers, Karikatura, Fireside Collective, Upstate Rubdown, The New Familiars, The Gina Clowes Project, Cake for Dinner, Tajci, The Hillbilly Thomists, Ben-David Warner, Will Overman, Mountain Duo, Jack Dun- lap Band, Kentucky Avenue, and The Williams Brothers Band.
Highlights include an indoor late-night jam with festival artists and a military salute led by Six-String Soldiers.
A welcome stage at the festival entrance gives young acts a chance to perform.
The VIP experience for attendees has been enhanced this year with a shade tent and viewing area and air-conditioned restrooms near the main stage.
The festival also offers a craft and vendor village with local cuisine, and a beer garden featuring Virginia craft beers and wine. A kids’ zone has bounce houses, face-painting, and music programs.
Information on the festival’s artists and a variety of ticket options can be found at appaloosafestival.com. Ten percent discounts are available for active duty military and veterans, and admission is free for children 12 and younger. On-site accommodations include chalets, cabins, RVs, and tent camping.
Hiking, canoeing, fishing, biking, and horse- back riding opportunities are nearby. And, if you want to extend your weekend, the resort is just
5 miles from the entrance to Skyline Drive and George Washington National Forest.
Spirit of togetherness
A sense of community is important to Appaloosa organizers. Organizers purposely created an envi- ronment that appeals to all ages.
“Whether you’re a kid, a college student, young adult, or senior citizen, every demographic finds a home at Appaloosa,” said festival director Brian Lowman.
In addition, Lowman said the goal is to treat everyone at the festival with hospitality. “From our guests, to our artists, to our volunteers, we want to make everyone feel special at Appaloosa.”
The festival layout adds to the communal feel, according to Fedoryka. Activities are contained within one area, with the music, a children’s play area, and VIP camping in close proximity. The beer garden envelopes the entire grounds, rather than being relegated to the side.
“It is not uncommon to see a group of (beer-sipping) dads watching their kids in the kids’ zone while the moms are dancing at the front of the stage,” said Fedoryka.
The collaborative spirit extends to the guest jam tent and music workshops presented by the Appaloosa Blue Ridge Arts Foundation.
Fedoryka said the “heart and soul” of Appaloosa are the 120-plus volunteers who support the festival. “Their generosity of spirit pours over into the festival atmosphere and jumpstarts the spirit of togetherness which has touched Appaloosa attendees the last three years.”
Lowman said the festival is just a short drive from Washington but “really a world away.”
He said people have many reasons to attend. “It’s a special experience — a gathering of old friends, a family reunion, a college reunion, a place to discover the next Grammy Award-winning music act, a weekend to just let your hair down, kick up your heels and dance, and raise a glass to one another.
“You’ve never experience such a joyful good time as you will at Appaloosa. Truly, it’s ‘music among friends.’”
What: Appaloosa Music Festival
When: Aug. 31–Sept. 2