I really have three favorite pastimes- bluegrass music, beer, and camping.
I first heard about The Festy last fall when a friend invited me to go; "unfortunately" I had to be in Denver for the Great American Beer Festival that weekend, so I couldn't make it. I can’t really complain though, having Charlie Papazian of the Brewers Association put a gold medal around my neck was a decent consolation prize (and a feeling I can’t wait to replicate with The Virginia Beer Company).
I knew upon moving up here to VA that I would most certainly not miss The Festy this year. How could a bluegrass festival in the mountains of Virginia, with a brewpub onsite, not be an excellent weekend?
My friend (who will remain anonymous to protect the innocent) and I packed up her car and headed for Devils Backbone Basecamp on Friday night. We got a late start on a rainy night, but made it up there by midnight. We got our camp set up and headed off into the muddy darkness to find some fun… It wasn’t hard (and brewers boots were excellent for muddy trekking). There were picking circles around campfires throughout the campgrounds, and we had a blast wandering and making new friends and trying new beers, even if it was pretty much a steady downpour by the end of the night.
Saturday was our day to really take in all The Festy had to offer, both in music and beer. We woke up to a little light rain, but it cleared pretty well as the day went on. A really good cup of coffee and some breakfast from one of the vendors, and I was ready for the day. There was great music all day (I especially enjoyed discovering the Shook Twins for the first time), but the real excitement was the Infamous Stringdusters’ headlining performance on the main stage that night. They killed it- even throwing in some John Hartford and Bob Dylan covers on top of all their originals. It was a fantastic show made all the better by the great location, people, and of course copious amounts of Devils Backbone beer. It’s hard to argue with a DB Schwarz Bier on a cool October night while dancing to high-energy bluegrass music.
Another really cool aspect of The Festy is their emphasis on environmental sustainability. They have completely done away with plastic cups and bottled water at the festival! With your ticket purchase you’re given a stainless steel pint glass from Klean Kanteen that you use for all your beverages for the weekend, including free drinking water stations in the concert area and campgrounds. I wish more festivals would follow The Festy’s lead on this one!
The folks at Devils Backbone deserve some serious credit and a sincere thank you for helping to stage such a great festival. I’ve been to festivals all over the country, including in the beer mecca that is Oregon, and I’ve never seen such a variety of beers available at a music festival. It was a serious treat and quite impressive!
I know I will never miss another Festy Experience at Devils Backbone… Neither should you.