The Return of the Lockn' Music Festival

Aug 29, 2014

Organizers of the Lockn’ Music Festival are gearing up for this year’s event, despite complaints from ABC agents who videotaped illegal drug buys and one young woman sunbathing topless. The four-day fest will feature some big names, including Willie Nelson playing - for the first time - in Nelson County.  


Lockn’ 2014 is expected to outdraw last year’s crowd of 25,000, with a long list of popular bands.

“We’ve got Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, one of the Allman Brothers’ very last shows, Widespread Panic, we’ve got two shows of Wilco, we’ve got Willie Nelson coming, which is the first time Willie Nelson has played in Nelson County.”

That’s managing partner Dave Frey, who isn’t sure if Nelson is excited about this little coincidence.

“At the moment it’s probably just another gig, but I did hear from the sheriff who said, ‘We have a problem.’  I was like, ‘Oh dear!’  And he was like, ‘All my deputies and officers are going to want the day off.”

Actually, many of them asked to be assigned festival duty on that day for a chance to hear Nelson while getting paid.  Police are also pleased with this year’s traffic plan.  Last year, Frey says, traffic backed up on 29 South, and things got messy.

“State police don’t like that part of the road.  There are lots of hills and valleys, turns and twists and bends, and there’s cars out there going 65 miles an hour or worse, trucks.”

So promoters bought a 385-acre farm just south of the concert site, and this year they’re ready.

“We are putting in six lanes of entrances into a huge processing area, so we’re going to be able to handle many more cars a lot more efficiently and a lot more quickly.”

And with more land, promoters were able to create campsites no more than half a mile from the action, so people can walk or bike to the show.  Concert-goers are encouraged to bring bicycles or to purchase from one of four local shops that will set up at the site.

“Specialized is going to be there to rent bike to people, and we’re going to have a junk bike guy who’s going to sell junk bikes for $50-$100 and hope people leave them on site, and he can sell them again next year.”

Beer and wine will also be on sale, despite complaints from ABC agents who went undercover at last year’s event.  During hours of public hearings in Lynchburg and Richmond, they alleged more than 100 deals involving illegal drugs and several said they’d videotaped a woman sunbathing topless.

For now, Frey says, the festival’s liquor license is clean.

“There’s an appeals process, and when this process ends, we will be in civil court, likely in Nelson County, and I’m confident that we’re going to prevail, because I don’t even see Nelson County wanting to spend the taxpayers’ money to hear this case.  There was nobody underage being served.  We didn’t over serve people, which is a big concern of mine, and I think it’s important to serve, because when you serve you control, and if you don’t control, then you’ve got people running out and getting all liquored up and driving back.  You’ve got DUIs, you’ve got safety concerns, you have medical concerns.”

The Nelson County sheriff’s office was on hand to prevent illegal drug use.  Frey says arrests were made and tickets issued. As for that topless sunbather …

“Really?  A girl was sunbathing topless and five ABC agents had to videotape the evidence and no one could walk up to her and say, ‘Please put your shirt on?’”

Frey is promoting the event nationwide and is already making plans for next year.  Having purchased the land next door, he says, the pressure is on to make a financial success of Lockn’.  To do that, organizers say they may hold two festivals next year - one featuring country music and the other showcasing rock.