Labor Day music fest gets green light

FRONT ROYAL – A music festival planned for Labor Day weekend in Warren County can move forward at a new spot.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a permit for the Appaloosa Music Festival at the Skyline Ranch Resort Sept. 5-6. The venue is off Mountain Road.

Organizers expect the festival to host 20-25 bands representing such music genres as bluegrass, Americana, Celtic and folk. Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress explained that the organizers plan to put the stage in the center of the resort’s 70-acre property. Gates are to open at 9 a.m. Saturday and close at 11 p.m. Gates would open at 9 a.m. Sunday and close at 10 p.m. Performances are expected to begin at 11 a.m. both days and not exceed eight hours per day. Organizers expect 1,000-2,000 people to attend each day.

The board does not hold public hearings on festival-permit applications. But, during the public comment portion of the meeting, Gavin and Marty Bourjaily, who live on Signal View Road, told the board they have concerns about the traffic, noise and trash that holding the festival at the resort might create. The Bourjailys suggested other venues such as the fairgrounds would work better for such an event.

Terrance McKeegan, a managing partner with Appaloosa Festival, said the event likely would result in an average of 100-200 vehicles entering the property per hour. The registration area for the event will be held approximately 1,500 feet from the festival entrance to help prevent traffic backups onto the main road.

The board last month turned down the organizers’ application for a permit to hold the festival at the Warren County Airport over concerns about traffic congestion and logistics. Supervisors after that vote suggested that organizers try to find another venue.

Even though the festival received unanimous support, supervisors said  the board and the county need to examine how and where such events are held. Supervisor Daniel Murray Jr. said the county and board would be watching to see how the Appaloosa Festival goes off this time. McKeegan thanked Murray for helping save the festival at the last meeting by suggesting the alternate venue.

As for using the former Fishnet properties as a venue, County Administrator Doug Stanley estimated that it would be 2017 or 2018 before festival organizers could begin using the future Rockland Park as a site for events. The county is looking for grant money to build a new stage area, Stanley said.

Also at the meeting, the board:
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms for the development and operation of a school bus stop and parents’ parking area on Venus Branch Road in the subdivision. Farms resident Ralph Rinaldi said during the public comment portion this project would be safer than the situation now on the heavily used Howellsville Road. Rinaldi noted the project also involves the cooperation between the board, the county administration and the property owners association.
• Approved the purchase of an option to buy 15 acres of land adjacent to the airport from Picture Perfect Properties Inc. for $166,000 – the assessed value of the property. The airport could use the land for future expansion and to keep a buffer between the facility and the nearby homes, officials have said.

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

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