Food, arts, renewal and music will be the melodic focus of the Catawba FARM Fest 2012.
This local festival will be held on Labor Day weekend, August 31 through September 2, and its organizers are reaching out for community support and volunteers to make its first year a success.
Half Acre Promotions, a local marketing, production and event planning partnership, has partnered with Virginia Tech to host the event in a location that is accessible to neighboring communities in the valley.
Catawba FARM Fest will be held on Virginia Tech’s Catawba Sustainability Center property with the intent to showcase local produce and raise awareness for the Sustainability Center, according the festival’s website.
Anita Bevins, a partner and founder of Half Acre Promotions, said the festival has been in the works since September 2011.
FARM is an acronym for food, arts, renewal and music, which are all the spotlights for this festival. The intention is to bring local communities together in support of regional arts and produce.
“In a lot ways, it’s like neighbors helping neighbors,” Bevins said. “We wanted to have that feel of something that’s grassroots and homegrown.”
Half Acre Promotions has produced other music events such as the Giles Fiddler Convention and the Newport Jamborees in the local area with the to encourage the community to become more involved.
The aspiration for Catawba FARM Fest is that it will be more than just a weekend about music and food. Bevins said that it’s an opportunity to get the locals excited to show off their community.
Before Virginia Tech would proceed with Half Acre’s proposal to host the FARM Fest on the Catawba property, however, Bevins said they were asked to meet with leaders in that community to gain their approval.
Bevins explained to the Catawba community leaders the benefits of and why it was essential to host the festival at the Sustainability Center.
She said there has been concern in the town of the property being converted to a golf course or developed into a subdivision, but if the festival is a success, then it could be a reason to preserve that area.
She also said that being able to use the community for a weekend would have a positive economic impact.
“It’s going to come back to them,” she said. “Especially using their produce and their goods to highlight the food and the crafts.”
The variety of music, vendors and activities is what Bevins said could attract a lot of people to Catawba for the weekend.
The festival’s line up of local bands is diverse in genres, and Bevins said they are planning to have a band each night that would appeal to the different groups of people attending, whether it is rockers, bluegrass fans or reggae lovers.
“There are so many people we can appeal to, and that it will ensure how successful we are,” she said.
The festival’s location will provide more than just a weekend about music. The Catawba Sustainability Center could be a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, because it is close the Appalachian Trail for hikes and is also near a lake.
“It’s going to be a true camping experience,” Bevins said. “There’s lots of room to spread out, and it’s a beautiful valley. It’s going to be a nice package deal.”
The festival is also being tailored to be a fun family trip. There will be puppeteers, a storyteller, as well as a sand sculpture contest to entertain the younger attendees. Bevins said even though tickets increased in price, it is still affordable.
“For most people, (Labor Day weekend) is the last hurrah before they get back into the school year, and they can’t afford to take the kids to Disney World or off to the beach for a long weekend,” she said.
No matter who attends, there will be a common theme throughout the festival for all to enjoy. The Catawba FARM Fest will be promoting a sustainable lifestyle, an aspect that will also attract slow food supporters and local famers.
“It’s all about sustainability, whether its sustaining your home, your garden, your community or yourself,” Bevins said.