FloydFest 5 | Roots Alive
We often get the question about FloydFest, from folks who haven't heard of the town of Floyd; "Will Pink Floyd be there? Is it a Pink Floyd cover band festival?" No, actually, FloydFest is named after our one-stoplight, two-block town, or rather the special essence of our town, which residents and visitors alike experience as a respite from the restless, hurried activity of our modern society, and the cookie-cutter look and feel of many, if not most, modern places.
Floyd is funky. It's small, with sidewalks extending literally two blocks in each direction. We could use more, and better sidewalks. There's a movement afoot to make this happen, as well as to secure historical designation status for the downtown, making some general 'improvement's that some folks feel would appeal to tourists, which is the direction Floyd seems to be slowly moving. Meanwhile, old buildings just get repainted periodically, and Subway and Dollar General crouch on the periphery of town, mild but distinct reminders of the fate of corporate homogenization that befalls most towns.
But Floyd is firmly rooted in the dark, rich humus of the Blue Ridge. The people here have a distinct sense of place, and an appreciation of 'roots.' The musical traditions that began and flourished in local mountain communities are still alive. A visit to the Floyd Country Store any given Friday night of the year affirms this 'living tradition,' as bluegrass and old-time players from nine to ninety spill out of the store onto the sidewalks, playing together in small groups for appreciative listeners, dancers, and for the sheer fun of it. Likewise, crafters, both native to Floyd and migrants to the area, their talents ranging from the traditional to the bizarre, contribute largely to the 'artistic flare' of Floyd. A walk downtown will take you past several galleries, as well as the New Mountain Mercantile, a showcase for local art and craft, and a recent grant to the communities' 'Jacksonville Center' provided funding for the creation of a small business arts incubator out of an old dairy barn. The old-school Blue Ridge Diner, the cornerstone Farmer's Supply hardware store, the funky Oddfella's Cantina, the expanded Harvest Moon health food co-op, and, recently, two new coffee shops, make the two-block trek through Floyd well worth the effort for tourists up from North Carolina, or coming off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Floyd is a county of time and weather worn mountains connected by acres of forests, grazing lands and crop fields. Our small farmers are still hanging on, and residents are fortunate to have access to fresh local milk, cheeses, grass fed beef and poutry, and local organic produce from several flourishing CSA (community supported agriculture) efforts. Twenty minutes out of town the Josephine Porter Institute prepares and ships organic biodynamic preparations all over the world, based on Rudolph Steiner's progressive theories of agriculture, which reject chemical fertilizers, and are based on the subtle formative forces of plant growth. Most Floydians have a backyard garden of their own. Interestingly, no water flows into Floyd county. All streams, rivers and springs have their sources here; their water or their headwaters originate within the county and flow out of the counties borders, another small but disninctive 'quirk' that contributes to the 'Floyd-ness' of Floyd.
Most unique, though, within Floyd, are it's people, and the sense of community togetherness that infuses life here with something special. Individuality is accepted here, even encouraged. Long time natives of the area coexist in harmony with the influx of relative newcomers who have come to the area seeking it's rare mix of accepting quietude and progressive culture. Potlucks are common, and everyone is invited. No two people walking down Floyd's sidewalks look alike. Everybody waves, as you drive past them. Children are seen and heard. The local paper is a lively forum for debate. You know your mechanic, your doctor, your lawyer and your banker, and their spouses and children. It's a sense of home, and a corresponding pride that has spawned the creation of bumper stickers and a festival called FloydFest.