Organizers seek new venue for music festival

FRONT ROYAL – Organizers of a music festival planned for Labor Day weekend in Warren County need to find a new site fast.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to deny a permit for the Appaloosa Festival at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport, citing possible logistical issues in holding the event at the facility. Chairman Richard Traczyk said in voting in favor of the request that he didn’t see any problems with allowing the festival to be held at the airport.

But supervisors spoke highly of the proposed festival and encouraged the organizers to find a different location for the event and come back to the board for a permit. Supervisors suggested the organizers consider the county fairgrounds or Skyline Ranch Resort as possible sites.

Terrence McKeegan of Appaloosa Festival LLC applied for the permit to hold the event on Sept. 5 and 6. Organizers described the festival roster of about 25 acts as a mix of bluegrass, folk and Celtic that would attract family audiences.

Organizers wanted to hold the festival in an area that embodied the valley, McKeegan said. They passed on the county fairgrounds because it didn’t have that appearance, he said. Organizers had planned initially to hold the festival at the historic Mint House on Va. 55 (Strasburg Road) but the property owners had not obtained the necessary permits and soon were told they could not host or advertise such events until they received proper approval.

Ken Thurman, chairman of the Airport Commission, spoke in support of the festival. Thurman said such an event would help generate revenue for the airport. Thurman said he saw the festival as a trend toward bringing similar events to the airport. Board members asked if the organizers had brought their request to the Airport Commission.

The facility is expected to host Skyline Wings and Wheels Sept. 12 as part of the Virginia Air Show Week. However, some supervisors questioned whether or not the Appaloosa Festival would conflict with the event the following weekend. McKeegan said the festival plans to hire staff and recruit volunteers who would take down and clean up through the day after the event.

Also at the meeting, supervisors:

• Approved a request by the Department of Fire and Rescue Services to hire a part-time, recruiting and retention officer for volunteers. The board voted 3-2 to approve the request, with Supervisors Linda Glavis and Archie Fox voting against the motion. Chief Richard Mabie said the $20,000 to cover the salary would come from revenue collected through the fees charged for ambulance service.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with Front Royal for the development and operation of a public recreational facility at the long-closed, Catlett Mountain landfill. Town and county employees worked with a recreational consultant to create a concept plan for the park to include a walking path, hiking trails, a playground, a mountain bike course, picnic shelter, practice field and a parking lot. The county would develop and maintain the park under the agreement.

• Approved conditional-use permits for private-use camping requested by David Swann and Barbara Mellott. Swann and Mellott sought to use their separately owned properties off Farms Riverview Road in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision as campsites for private use. No one spoke at public hearings held on both requests.

• Adopted amendments to the county code to allow for the operation of distilleries on property zoned for agricultural use. No one spoke at the public hearing on the changes. The amendment allows distillery as a by-right use on agricultural property and sets forth limitations and conditions for such operations. Assistant County Attorney Dan Whitten said the county has not yet received any requests to operate a distillery on agricultural property. But distilleries are growing more common across the state, Whitten said.

• Adopted changes to the county code to impose an additional $5 fee in the general and circuit court as part of the costs a defendant must pay when charged with a violation. State code allows the county to impose the fee. The county plans to use the additional revenue collected through the fee to cover the cost of an electronic summons system. The Sheriff’s Office plans to build up the fund before purchasing the system in a year or two.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or

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