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Shuttles were taking festivalgoers from schools and other buildings after mud closed the event's off-site parking and camping lots.
Courtesy Ty Brady
A vehicle pulls a car out of the mud at the Delta parking lot Saturday at FloydFest.
Courtesy Ty Brady
There were at least a dozen reports of vehicles stuck in Saturday's mud.
Courtesy Ty Brady
A school bus doubles up as a shuttle to take festivalgoers from Floyd Elementary School to FloydFest on Saturday.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
The first two days of this year's FloydFest featured some of the most temperate weather the event has ever seen - highs in the high 70s, light breezes, clouds blocking the sun's harshest rays, relatively warm nights. Then the clock struck midnight Saturday.
First, it sprinkled. Then it rained on festivalgoers dancing to late night/early morning music. By the time the World Village DJ set was over, the rain was pounding at tents and recreational vehicles. By 4 a.m., FloydFest organizers knew they were experiencing a weather nightmare.
They began to plan for closing the festival's off-site parking and camping lots, which were so saturated by daylight that vehicles were stuck. They formulated a plan to route those who weren't camping on-site to Floyd County schools parking spaces and to Floyd County Industrial Park. They directed shuttle buses - school buses and Boy Scout buses from North Carolina - to move customers from the new spots to the rain-soaked festival grounds.
And they reached out to people with tow trucks, tractors and the like, to begin pulling some of at least a dozen vehicles reportedly stuck at the lots known as Alpha and Delta.
In interviews at Floyd Elementary School, some people waiting for shuttles said they were embittered about the experience. Others said they thought it went relatively smoothly.
At the bottom of the hill that links the vocational school, elementary school and high school, one of the festival's organizers stood in the road, giving directions to people who were driving up for a shuttle. At midafternoon, all of those lots were full with about 500 vehicles, and FloydFest communications director Linda DeVito was telling each new approaching driver to head for the industrial park.
"All right? All right. And away we go!" she said to people in a line of three cars.
One of them gave her a look of frustration. "Sorry," she said as he pulled away. "Better than being in a field, stuck."
DeVito said that she and other FloydFest organizers were grateful to the Floyd County school system, which supplied all of its available spots in town, and to event partner Dreaming Creek Timber Frame Homes, which volunteered property with lots of available parking at nearby Floyd County Industrial Park.
"When this kind of situation develops, it really shows what kind of a community Floyd is," she said.
Several headed from the elementary school to the festival Saturday complained that when they had reached the closed lots earlier, they were given vague directions to the school parking lots, or no directions at all.
Rick Horwitz, 69, of Charlottesville, and his wife, Carol, stood in line with a woman who declined to identify herself to a reporter. They were commiserating about confusion over directions. The woman said she asked more than four people how to get to the schools' parking lots, but could not get an answer.
The Horwitzes said they had troubles leaving the FloydFest site on Friday, but ran into someone on Saturday who told them they needed to go to the high school, then told them how to get there. They were first on the lot, but waited for a few hours till the rain died down before catching a shuttle to FloydFest.
Rick Willoughby, 52, of Floyd, said he thought that the event's notifications were timely and detailed. He said he saw updates about every half-hour on Facebook.
"Everybody seems to have gotten the word," Willoughby said. "Given the circumstances, I thought they did a pretty good job."
Kevin Kozak, 40, of State College, Pa., was one of two volunteers wirelessly scanning festival passes in front of the school, then handing out wristbands to get people into the event.
"No more waits for them," he said.
Long after Kozak was gone, though, about 30 people still sat in front of the elementary school, waiting for a shuttle. They had their wristbands, but after the lot was filled, shuttle buses were directed to the industrial park, leaving that group in relative limbo.
"We'll get a bus up there," DeVito said.
Asked about the sorts of miscommunications that left people feeling directionless, simply following other cars in hopes of winding up at the correct spot, DeVito said that even the event's best planning this year didn't take into account how bad this rain was going to be. Some of the volunteers come from out of the area and don't know the roads, but organizers tried to get the pertinent information to them.
"We did all we could to get them to the site safe and sound, and with their vehicles remaining safe," she said.
Shuttles continued after 6 p.m. shuttling campers from the Delta park-and-camp lot, and in what felt like better news for the time being, the rain had long stopped. The wait at the Dreaming Creek site was about 40 minutes, according to FloydFest's Facebook page. There was no wait for people camping at Delta lot.
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