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Delays, traffic woes lead to Pittsylvania County taking over outside operations for Blue Ridge Rock Festival
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Delays, traffic woes lead to Pittsylvania County taking over outside operations for Blue Ridge Rock Festival

DANVILLE — After being overwhelmed by the thousands of fans arriving for last week’s Blue Ridge Rock Festival, the promoter pivoted and turned all operations outside of the event gates over to Pittsylvania County, ultimately leading to what officials termed a “flawless” affair.

The 4-day festivities kicked off Thursday, backing up traffic along U.S. 29 in Blairs. On the first day of the event, it took about 20 to 30 minutes for a Danville Register & Bee reporter to get from the exit onto northbound U.S. 29 to R & L Smith Road, which leads to Carson Lester Lane and the Blue Ridge Amphitheater.

“Events of this scale are going to cause some congestion and difficulty in an area like ours,” Pittsylvania County spokesperson Caleb Ayers told the Danville Register & Bee. “We are confident that moving forward those negative impacts can and will be mitigated.”

Ayers acknowledged delays and traffic woes through the entire 4-day run but said it improved after the county took over outside operations. Those efforts involved hundreds from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Pittsylvania County Public Safety, Virginia Department of Transportation, and members of the county’s volunteer fire and rescue agencies.

About five officers from the Danville Police Department also helped at the festival, according to Maj. Tim Jones. They volunteered after the county “issued a mutual aid call to local jurisdictions” before the event, city spokesperson Arnold Hendrix said.

The costs associated with those government agencies stepping into help will be paid for by Purpose Driven Events, the promoter of the festival at the amphitheater.

Pittsylvania County estimates about 33,000 people attended the rock festival each day, with about 20,000 campers on the site, making it the largest event in the region’s history. Representatives with Purpose Driven Events did not answer questions from the Danville o Register & Bee in time for publication, including a request for a final fan count.

However, the Blue Ridge Rock Festival admitted to some early hiccups.

“We have heard you and understand that getting to the festival grounds has been confusing,” officials wrote on the Facebook page Thursday before explaining shuttle services and displaying maps of the area. “We apologize that this has been so confusing the past couple days, we hear you and are working to make your Fan Driven experience the best it could be.”

More than 180 bands performed before the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. Some of those acts included Anthrax, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Megadeth, Bush, Lamb of God, Cypress Hill, Seether, Ludacris, T-Pain, Body Count, Lil John and Rev Run (from Run-DMC).

There were no “major incidents” at the event reported by the county. Jones also said there were no festival-related calls that spilled over into the city limits.

“There were minimal law enforcement incidents outside of and inside the event grounds, which is a testament to the careful planning and excellent execution from the many regulating agencies that were involved and a testament to the fans, who were courteous, helpful and largely positive about the way the event improved each day,” a statement from the county read.

With Danville hotel rooms booked solid last week, city finance Director Michael Adkins said he expects increased revenue from the transient lodging tax. However, it will be October before those payments are collected to know the full financial impact.

Pittsylvania County leaders said they believe food and beverage tax collections will top $100,000.

“People stayed at our campgrounds and Airbnb hotels, stopped at our gas stations, ate at our restaurants, and we have heard many firsthand accounts of people taking the time to enjoy the amenities our local community has to offer,” said Ayers, who said the revenue windfall extends beyond the borders of Pittsylvania County.

Danville City Council member Lee Vogler was one of the local fans who ventured to the amphitheater.

“To all those who visited the #DanvilleVA region for the Blue Ridge Rock Festival this week, I hope you enjoyed our area,” Vogler said on his councilman’s Facebook page. “I had an awesome time rocking out with you guys. Hope to see ya next year!”

“Events of this scale are going to cause some congestion and difficulty in an area like ours.”

— Caleb Ayers, Pittsylvania County spokesperson

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