Photos and Words by Jerry Friend
The Rooster Walk Festival, like all of us is having to adapt to world around us. With the lingering effects of the global pandemic still causing us to change our routines in order to try to find ways to safely try to get back to normal. This year the festival moved it's dates from it's normal Memorial Day weekend gathering to a Fall family reunion. It was a reunion of bands that have frequently played the festival, many regional fan favorites as well as some headlining national touring acts. It was what long time attendees were used to having and they were joined by some new attendees, refugees of other events that have canceled recently, while struggling to navigate Covid safety protocols.
Early on the festival organizers made decisions to limit the festival's normal capacity which is typically close to four thousand people to around 40 percent of that size. Rumors were that they sold 1500 tickets for the scaled down event. Its possible that by Saturday evening when the event was in full swing there could have been closer to two thousand people with staff and artists included. Even though the numbers were diminished the promoters were enthusiastic about making sure that the fans and artists would be able to gather safely. The reduced size of the event allowed more room for everyone to social distance in the outdoor setting and still have a great weekend together.
Many of the bands were from areas in Virginia and North Carolina and have played the festival over the years forming friendships not only with each other but with the faithful fans, staff and families. Rooster Walk is known for it's family friendly setting and the staff are referred to as family, and the volunteers friends. Everyone gathered at the beautiful festival site, Pop's farm, to celebrate being able to return to support live music, camp out, enjoy spending time outdoors with family and see old friends as well as having the chance to make new ones.
This year's lineup included The Infamous Stringdusters, Tauk, Yarn, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Melvin Seals and the Jerry Garcia Band, Big Something, DJ William's Shots Fired, The Larry Keel Experience, Fireside Collective,The Jon Stickley Trio Violet Bell, Big Daddy Love, Kendall Street Company, Ron Holloway, Kat Wright, The Issac Hadden Project, South Hill Banks, Sex Bruise?, Prosperity's Folly and more.
The music started up Friday afternoon and went on all weekend until late Sunday night. The festival has created a few traditions, one of them includes a set by fan favorites Yarn where they play a tribute set to bands that influenced them in the past they have done nods towards the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, this year they band played a special set they dubbed Yarn and Roses, playing their rendetion of songs from Guns and Rose seminal record Apetite for Destruction and it did not disappoint. Fans we also treated to sit ins with many of the bands from the artists at large like Josh Shilling, Wallace Mullinax and Ron Holloway, who seemed to show up on all of the stages.
The festival held in Henry County, in Axton, Virginia, between Martinsville and Danville is also just an hour north of Greensboro, NC. Rooster Walk Reunion, had some great food and arts and craft vendors too, like. The Sugar Shack, Sexi-Mexi Burrito Bar, Bootleg BBQ, The Daily Grind, and wood fired pizza from Lost Highway Pizza.. None of this would be possible without amazing sponsors including, Bassett, Hooker Furniture, New Belgium Brewing, Bells Inspired Brewing, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Midway Gas, Virginia is for Lovers, Truly Hard Seltzer, City of Martinsville, Firth Construction, Ragged Branch Distillery from Charlottesville VA, Henry County Public Schools, Appalachain Power, Morgan Stanley, Rives S. Brown Real Estate, Adams Construction of Roanoke, Greensboro Shrub Nursery, Sandy River Equestrian Center, Blue Ridge Auqua Culture and many more.