Thousands of people will step into downtown Blacksburg August 3 and 4 for live music, crafts, food and to reunite with friends.
Downtown Blacksburg Inc. will present the 32nd annual Steppin’ Out festival, which has more vendors for 2012 than ever before.
Admission, downtown parking, and bus shuttles by the Blacksburg Transit will all be free for the festival, and there will also be the Canine Corral on the Henderson Lawn for dogs to be watched and cared for while festival goers walk the streets.
Dylan Locke Productions organizes the music for Steppin’ Out. Dylan Locke said there will be three stages — the community stage, acoustic stage and the main stage.
“What I’m excited about this year that I haven’t done in the past is bring in a Zydeco band in, and they’re directly out of Louisiana,” Locke said. “It’s the real deal, its authentic Zydeco music.”
The main stage usually shuts down at 10, however there will be an hour extension Friday night for the Zydeco dance party.
“Zydeco is like gumbo, it’s all different styles in a pot mixed together, so it’s a lot of French Creole, R & B, very dansical,” Locke said. “It’s very lively, energetic and fun.”
Downtown Blacksburg Inc. director, Laureen Blakemore, said the estimate of attendees to the festival is 35,000 to 40,000 over the two days, but it is hard to get an accurate count because it is free.
“It’s cited as one of the biggest festivals in Southwest Virginia,” Blakemore said. “There’s usually something for everybody.”
Blakemore said the footprint of the festival is the biggest for this year than it has ever been. There are up to 250 vendors particpating Steppin’ Out 2012, because many of them go to other festivals and tell their fellow vendors about how great it is, she said.
Steppin’ Out has become a reunion event for many according to local author Charles Lytton.
“People come from 50-100 miles away knowing that they’re going to see certain people,” Lytton said. “It’s that type of environment, and you see big kids, little kids and older people and even ancient people.
“I think of it as a friend reunion,” he said.
Blakemore said that it is an ideal time for Blacksburg locals to reconnect with each other after leaving for vacations, students come back into town, and alumni like to enjoy the town during the summer.
Creating a line-up of music that appeals to this diverse group is a pleasant challenge, according to Locke. He said the Blacksburg music scene is not as good as it could be for a college town, however the students who attend the festival can discover local bands that they enjoy.
“A festival like this is a good way to do that,” Locke said. “It’s fun turning people on to music that they haven’t heard.”
The festival’s music schedule includes local, regional, and even national bands, which are showcased on their related stages.
According to Locke, the community stage will host organizational activities of the community such as martial arts, dancing, music, and theatre. The acoustic stage will showcase most of the acoustic bands, then the main stage will have a variety of the acts.