Where’s the FESTIVAL in the Park?

They weren’t exactly packed in at the amphitheater.
Love this glasswork.

The 50th edition of Roanoke’s most identifiable annual celebration, Festival in the Park, might have broken records for participation today, but that’s not a good thing. The record would be on the low end because during the middle of the day it was more ghost town than Easter Parade.

The numbers of vendors and people wanting to enjoy the music, food and crafts was woefully down, something that has seemed to me to be a trend for the past few years. My guess is that it will pick up this evening (if the rain holds off, which it doesn’t appear to want to do) and next weekend when art is the feature.

Still, it was eerily quiet as a group of kids from the Southwest Virginia Ballet took the stage to perform some pretty dances and several individual acts played before either nobody or very few throughout the venue. The normally packed area in front of Roanoke’s downtown library had almost nothing going on.

Still, there’s plenty to see if you look. Here’s some of what I saw.

Dancers ruin their feet and entertain us.
More dancing without the toe destruction.
This young food worker must have enjoyed the sun yesterday.
In past years, this area was full of tents for craftspeople.
These people were prepared for the worst.
This face-paint artist seems to know her colors.
Yes, I wanted some. No, I didn’t give in.
The family that eats ice cream together doesn’t have to smile together.
What little activity existed today, was here, in front of the library on Jefferson Street.
This young woman was playing flute in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Sadly, almost nobody noticed. She was good.

By admin

Dan Smith is an award-winning journalist in Roanoke, Va., and a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. He is an author, photographer, essayist, father and grandfather. Co-founder of Valley Business FRONT magazine and founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. On Advisory Board of New River Voice.

1 reply on “Where’s the FESTIVAL in the Park?”

As a long time local, I have lamented the lack of energy and participation in this Festival. It used to be bigger. The momentum and excitement seems to have been curbed too. As long as there’s less vendor participation, then there’s less enthusiasm for myself as a visitor. I used to advocate this as an activity for my staff of caregivers to take our clients. I need a quality amount of entertainment and enjoyment in an easily walkable area to reccommend. Obviously, there’s a dying formula here.

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