Purpose Driven Events will open a 30,000-person amphitheater in Pittsylvania County this summer.
BLAIRS – Once there were things called live concerts. Remember those?
It’s been about a year since Virginians packed crowded spaces, shoulder to shoulder, to see artists perform.
From smaller, single singer-songwriter events to tens of thousands of attendees at music festivals like FloydFest in Floyd, the coronavirus shut down many live performance opportunities.
Part of the issue arose from social distancing guidelines – staying at least six feet apart from others. Another issue became crowd control. For weeks, Virginians adhered to the strictest COVID crowd control restrictions the state enforced – groups of 10 people. The precautions arose in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In Dec. 2020, the first Virginia resident received a COVID-19 vaccination. Since then, 2.1 million residents received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 1.1 million Virginians fully inoculated.
President Joe Biden’s administration also recently announced that vaccines will be available for every adult that wants one by May 1.
In light of the recent advancements against the coronavirus, it appears the state is well on its way toward returning to normal. On March 8, a Virginia-based event company announced plans to do just that.
An Outdoor Space
Earlier this month, Purpose Driven Events announced plans to open the Blue Ridge Amphitheater. Located in the Blairs area of Pittsylvania County off of Route 29, the venue sits on nearly 300 acres.
Upon completion, the mountainside concert venue and performance space will host up to 30,000 guests. Organizers also have the flexibility to slim the venue to accommodate 5,000 people.
When Purpose Driven Events first announced their plans to open a concert venue in the area, some locals on social media questioned the exact location of the performance arena. On the Blue Ridge Amphitheater’s website, the company lists the address as 599 Carson Lester Ln, which is in Blairs. That’s the same location as the former White Oak Amphitheater and Family Campground.
According to the former music venue’s Facebook page – created in 2011 and last updated in 2017 – it appears the stage hosted predominantly gospel and bluegrass style performers.
Purpose Driven Events has not announced the style of performances it hopes to bring to the area. However, the company stated in a March 8 press release that they plan to open this summer.
“Blue Ridge Amphitheater is a massive game-changer for this market. While we have been able to bring many notable acts to this region in recent years, the launch of this venue will allow us to deliver a tier of talent many did not believe could routinely come. It also gives us the opportunity to unlock a higher level of event features and experiences, beyond just music, due to the significant volume of land we now have to work with year-round,” said Jonathan Slye, Chief Executive Officer of Purpose Driven Events. “This is another exciting and massive step to provide the highest quality of entertainment to a community that I have grown to love so dearly.”
Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman spoke positively about the concert venue’s presence in the area.
“We are strategically located on a extremely, extremely well connected corridor on Highway 29. And we are convenient to the triad of North Carolina, as well as Raleigh, not to mention the 58 East and West corridor,” Smitherman said. “It’s an easy location.”
The company also mentioned the location in their press release, praising its convenient, close proximity between Lynchburg, Roanoke, Danville and Greensboro.
While it’s a good, central location betwixt the larger cities, the area does lack one thing – accommodating roads. Carson Lester Ln juts off from R and L Smith Rd, which intersects Route 29. The venue’s road hosts single-lane traffic going in either direction.
Traffic could result in an issue when the venue hosts tens of thousands of people. However, Smitherman expressed that the venue is too early in its venture to have specific conversations about that.
“Definitely our largest concern is ingress and egress to the site,” Smitherman said. “There will certainly need to be considerations made for a large influx of attendees.”
As the months progress, more information will become available about the shows coming to the Blue Ridge Amphitheater.
“Make no mistake about it. Though the size and scope of events are now larger at Blue Ridge Amphitheater, our unique mission is unwavering. Passion, purpose, integrity, sustainability and a fan-driven mindset is still the pulse of everything we do,” Slye said. “There is much to be done, but our team will not deviate from our desire to learn and improve for you.”
Blue Ridge Amphitheater announced five music festivals planned for 2021. While the venue stated that it will open in August, organizers have not yet released information on the upcoming performers or genres.
Smitherman highlighted the opportunities the venue presented to the area.
“It will be nice to have folks from out of town coming and spending time in the evenings and dollars in our community and recognizing the assets of the county,” Smitherman said. “Hopefully it will convince folks to return and visit.”
At BlueRidgeAmphitheater.com, fans may subscribe to venue updates and show announcements. Those interested may follow the new venue on Facebook and Instagram, @BlueRidgeAmphitheater.
Amie Knowles reports for Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected]
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