GO Fest, which is put on by PLAY Roanoke in partnership with Roanoke Outside, will not happen in the traditional sense due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are excited to announce this week that the spirit of GO Fest will continue through a series of smaller, socially distanced events; the proceeds of which will go to Project Outside.
With a fundraising weekend in store for Roanokers on October 16-18, the goal is still to get outside.
“We want it to be a weekend where everyone makes it a point to do something outside,” said Julia Boas, events director for the Roanoke Outside Foundation.
Here’s what’s happening the weekend of October 16-18:
• Outdoor activities across the region: Clubs and businesses can plan an outdoor, socially distanced gathering, event, clinic, talk, etc. and add it to the GO Fest calendar here.
• Scavenger hunt: Go Quest is a team scavenger hunt that allows participants to post pictures, videos, GPS markers, and more in real time. Teams work together, but don’t necessarily have to be physically together, to accomplish real-life challenges from finishing hikes or bike rides to singing in a public location. Teams that accomplish the most could win cash and outdoor gear. Registration for GO Quest will go live in early September.
• Benefit concert: If CDC and state health guidelines allow, GO Fest will host two socially distanced benefit concerts with proceeds going to Project Outside. Event seating will be VIP-style with boxes where a limited number of friends and family will be allowed to share a 12ʹ x 12ʹ space.
• Gear Raffles: National brands are still supporting GO Fest with gear donations, things like Otterbox coolers and Yakima rooftop racks. Tickets for each packaged can be purchased online soon.
“We’re working diligently to set the gold standard for how events are done in our region during this time,” says Kait Pedigo, Roanoke Parks and Recreation special events supervisor. That means organizers have been in conversation with everyone from local city officials to epidemiologists at the Virginia Department of Health to ensure plans for an in-person concert meet and exceed state guidelines for gatherings. More on the benefit concerts will be announced in the coming weeks.
Project Outside benefits us all
GO Fest was created more than 10 years ago to provide a showcase of all the amazing things happening in the outdoor community in the Roanoke Region. But it’s also a community economic driver, one that shows area businesses, land managers, and clubs that “we’re better together,” according to Pete Eshelman, GO Fest founder.
Since it’s inception in 2010, GO Fest has seen the fruits of a strong outdoor community that works together. In 2019, GO Fest generated $480,000 in new economic activity to support 4.7 jobs in the Roanoke market for the next year. Further, the festival generates significant revenue through sales and opportunity for regional outdoor businesses ($5,520 in average sales per vendor in 2019) and helps nonprofits recruit volunteers and fundraise.
Now, during a pandemic in which our outdoor assets have seen a 200% increase in use, GO Fest has a new goal. “If we want to continue developing as an outdoor community we need to be willing to invest even more in our community strength,” Boas said. “GO Fest is honored to be able to kick off the fundraising efforts this year for Project Outside. It gives us hope and excitement for the future during these difficult times.”
Project Outside is a community fund created by businesses, governments, and individuals to support outdoor capital improvement projects, maintain key outdoor assets, and help launch and support businesses in the outdoor sector.
What does that mean for the City of Roanoke, specifically? Many of the assets right here in our city are eligible for support by the fund: Mill Mountain, the Roanoke River Greenway, River’s Edge Park, and Carvins Cove to name a few.
The goal for GO Fest 2020 is to raise $100,000. In addition to registering for GO Quest or attending a benefit concert, supporters can also purchase GO Fest merchandise or tickets for the outdoor gear raffle (Hydro Flask, Mountain Khaki, FloydFest, Walkabout Outfitter, Yakima, Otterbox, and more) – coming soon.
Organizers went live on Facebook Thursday to discuss this year’s plans in detail, as well as answer questions. Watch that broadcast here.
To get further updates as they are announced, sign up for the GO Fest newsletter here.
None of this would be possible without corporate supporters who have already pledged $50,000 to Project Outside. Among them: Anthem, Carilion Clinic, Member One, Hydro Flask, Haley Toyota, Freedom First, Blue Ridge Hydroponics, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and Orvis.
Other business partners pledging support include East Coasters Bike Shop, Runabout Sports, Orvis Roanoke, and Walkabout Outfitter.