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Group eyes Oak Ridge for music festival

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Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 11:08 am

A four-day festival with big-name bands and multiple stages — and drawing in 30,000-plus attendees — could be coming to Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson County starting this fall.

At the Nelson County Board of Supervisors meeting April 25, Reagan Holland Thompson, from Oak Ridge, said the festival is in its fourth month of planning.

The event, which is tentatively slated to take place Sept. 5 to 8, would be hosted at Oak Ridge Estate but would be put on by an outside group.

Representative Dave Frey, the promoter of the event, attended the meeting, as well. Frey said he, along with Peter Shapiro, a concert promoter from New York City and the publisher and co-owner of Relix magazine, decided they wanted to do a festival.

“I was really, really impressed with this property,” said Frey, who noted that they looked at several different venues in which to hold a festival, including Washington state, Colorado and Florida.

“It has a lot of great attributes in respect to having a mass gathering.”

Thompson echoed those comments.

“We think that we finally found a group that wants to bring money into the community that we can work with,” he said.

“They’re interested in the same goals that we are over at Oak Ridge and that’s not bothering the neighbors too much and not impacting the land or the property negatively.”

Frey said the festival would be unique in its feature of larger bands with two stages and each group playing a full slot of time.

“We intend to have this be kind of a showcase festival, not just of music, but of food and beverages and everything else for Central Virginia,” Frey said.

He said there might possibly even be a sort of ‘151 alley’ to showcase the best of the 151 Corridor.

The impact on Nelson County would be large, as Frey anticipates a crowd of 30,000 to 40,000, comprised of two types of people: those who would be transitory and staying in a local hotel or bed and breakfast, and those who would be stationary and camping on the estate.

The biggest challenge would be coordinating traffic, he said.

“We’ve put a lot of time and energy and resources into putting together a traffic plan,” Frey said, noting that they’re already working with the Virginia Department of Transportation, local emergency

services providers and state and county police to ensure that there is the lowest possible impact on both US 29 and side roads.

Frey said they’re far into the permitting process, as well. Tim Padalino, the director of Nelson County’s Department of Planning and Zoning, said that “every step along the way, the applicant is meeting and exceeding my expectation” in regards to obtaining a special use permit for the event.

Frey said they also “are very close to having an arrangement with Amtrak,” where they will have one engine coming into Charlottesville and one into Lynchburg to bring in guests. The train they’re looking at is 10 cars that can seat 78 people. The company wants to offer a package that would include festival admission as well as transportation and lodging.

“We’re very concerned about having this be a long-term thing for us,” Frey said. “… We have a huge investment we’re making to do this.”

He said when these sorts of festivals are started, it’s intended that the company will make an acceptable loss on the first year, break even on the second year and start turning a profit on the third year.

“Hopefully, this will become the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival of Central Virginia,” Frey said. “That’s our goal.”

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