Fly Free Fest is coming back next month, closer and bigger than last year
As I grow older, I find myself taking up that time-honored hobby of middle age: worrying about what “the young people” are thinking. In particular I worry that the younger generations might not have the perspective (how could they? They’re young…) to appreciate how far our fair city has come in the last two decades in arts and entertainment.
In the early ’90s there were only a small handful of decent venues to play, a very short list of good bands and there certainly weren’t many music festivals outside of the occasional redneck hootenanny. These days there are new, quality venues popping up every week, there are enough fantastic bands to keep me employed indefinitely and music festivals? You want ’em? We got ’em.
With festival season winding down, it is a happy surprise that what looks to be the last bash of the year (Fly Free Fest) will quite likely be one of the biggest. Mind you, this isn’t the first year for Fly Free Fest. It debuted last year in Adams, Tenn., and was by all accounts a HUGE success, but this year the festival moves closer to home, or at least closer to the home of its founder.
On Oct. 10-12 Fly Free takes over the grounds at Cherokee Farms in LaFayette and here is why you should care: Fly Free is bringing in some of the biggest and best-loved local and regional acts representing almost every genre you can think of. I’m not sure there will be any Renaissance lute ensembles (although I’m not sure there won’t be) and I haven’t noticed any gospel quartets in the lineup (yet) but they seem to have just about every other base covered.
Just a quick glance at the roster reveals such favorites as Strung Like a Horse, Opposite Box, Soul Mechanic, Okinawa, Teaspoon Sun, Smooth Dialects, New Planet, Backup Planet and Danimal Planet (to round out the ever-popular “Planet” trilogy) and that’s just a smattering of local talent appearing at the festival.
Big names are coming in from all over the Southeast (and elsewhere) for a total of 50-plus acts during three days—and that’s not even considering the visual artists, dancers, artisans and street (grassy lawn?) performers appearing.
I knew I was writing about good people when their official mission statement included a quote from Dr. Seuss. Delving a little deeper into that mission statement, it becomes clear that the event has been organized by regular people FOR regular people. The opening sentence sums it up well: “We are everyday people with basic educations, bills, families and responsibilities. We had a dream to put on our ideal festival…”
When all is said and done, it seems that the organizers have managed that peculiar alchemy necessary for success in Chattanooga, which is to combine big-time elements with small-town sensibilities. They’ve certainly pulled in an impressive talent pool, yet have managed to arrange the event so that long lines are unlikely and you won’t have to decide between seeing two or three of your favorite acts because their performances overlap.
It is a family-friendly festival with all sorts of interactive creative pastimes for the little critters. There is literally something for almost everyone at this gathering and, kids, if you can’t go, at least pass the word on because that’s how good things become great things and that’s how our artistic community continues to grow.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Fly Free Fest is available at flyfreefest.com, including the who, when, where and how much.