Music Festival Ordinance

Revising the Music Festival Ordinance

Multiple events and festivals that were planned for the Blue Ridge Amphitheater in Blairswhich was formally known as White Oak Amphitheater, led county staff to realize that our current Music Festival Ordinance had not been updated in 30 years. Since its creation in the early 1970s, a few minor updates have occurred, but not a thorough revision to make sure that the regulations are up-to-date and adequately protect everyone involved, including Pittsylvania County residents and neighbouring property owners, those who attend the events, Pittsylvania County government, and event promoters and staffOut of an abundance of caution, the Board of Supervisors passed a motion during a meeting on April 20, 2021 to freeze the acceptance of all music festival applications until the County Code could be revised. 

After months of work from Pittsylvania County staff and input from the public and agencies like the Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Health, the Board of Supervisors approved revisions to the music festival ordinance during their June meeting. This was the first wholesale revision since the ordinance was created in the 1970s. You can review the adopted revisions here.

"We took our time in developing these ordinance revisions because we wanted to make sure that everybody is getting a good deal," said Bob Warren, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. "We believe this ordinance adequately and fairly allows for music festivals to occur in a way that is safe and efficient for everyone involved." 

With the updated ordinance, any music festival organizer is required to submit thorough plans - that must be approved by Pittsylvania County and other regulating agencies such as the Virginia Department of Transportation - regarding everything from transportation, safety, light and sound, facilities and sewage, and a comprehensive site plan. For a permit to be granted, each of those plans must receive approval from the regulating agencies, and the entire permit then needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors.   

An important note: Pittsylvania County will be reimbursed for any costs related fire, EMS, or law enforcement assistance with any music festival event to ensure that these events do not put a burden on the taxpayers or the Pittsylvania County general fund.

What Does This Revised Ordinance Regulate? 

The revisions that the Board of Supervisors approved allow for regulations regarding Fire and EMS coverage for eventstraffic control, insurance coverage, bonds to ensure compliance, security and crowd control, lighting and noise spillover, and much more. Detailed plans, including a comprehensive site plan showing every amenity and where it would be located, will have to be provided and signed off on by the appropriate regulating agency, and the entire permit must be approved by the Board of Supervisors. 

The following things are now required from any music festival organizer:  

  • An overall site plan that shows the layout of the festival. This would need to be approved by Community Development 
  • A plan for adequate sanitation facilities and garbage, trash, and sewage disposal. This would need to be approved by Public Works.  Infographic about Music Festival Ordinance
  • A plan for providing food, water, and lodging. This would need to be approved by Community Development and the local Health Department 
  • A plan for medical facilities and EMS coverage. This would need to be approved by Public Safety 
  • A plan for parking facilities and traffic control. This would need to be approved by VDOT. 
  • A plan for adequate fire protection. This would need to be approved by Public Safety 
  • An outdoor lighting plan. This would need to be approved by Community Development.  
  • An outdoor noise plan. This would need to be approved by Community Development.  
  • A security and crowd control plan. This would need to be approved by the Sherriff’s Department. 
  • A secure bond to ensure that the organizers follow all requirements of the permit 
  • Adequate general liability insurance coverage.  

You can review the full, adopted revisions here. Each of these elements have been thoughtfully enacted to ensure that music festivals and other large concerts can happen safely without disrupting the lives of our residents. The Board of Supervisors’ goal is to protect our residents and those who do business in our county.  

Public Information Meeting and Public Hearing

To keep the public updated on the new regulations how Pittsylvania County leaders were working hard to protect every party involved, a public information meeting was held on May 12 at 7 p.m. (see video to the right). Participating remotely and in-person, citizens were able to learn more about our efforts to pre-emptively revise the Ordinance and what some of the proposed changes were. Attendees heard from and were able to ask questions to Purpose Driven Events, the company that manages the Blue Ridge Amphitheater, Pittsylvania County Community Development, Public Safety, and the Sheriff's Office, as well as other state agencies.

“We were pleased with the turnout of Wednesday’s public information meeting. We were able to bring many regulating agencies together to discuss how our new ordinance will allow music festivals to proceed safely and efficiently.”  - Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman

You can view the presentation that was shared here

Some of the highlights includes: 

  • A presentation from Community Development Director Emily Ragsdale about ordinance revisions relating to sound and light, insurance and bonding requirements, and the overall sight plan. The new ordinance requires any music festival to have proof of general liability insurance for at least $2 million, and any event with more than 10,000 attendees needs at least $4 million. 
  • Comments from Deputy Director of Public Safety Michael Lee, who spoke about the role of Public Safety in approving a Fire and EMS plan as well as any pyrotechnic displays or fireworks under the proposed ordinance. 
  • Comments from Jay Craddock, Assistant Resident Engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation, regarding required land use permits and traffic management plans that must be approved for any music festival under the new proposed ordinance. 
  • Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor spoke about the role his office will play in planning and coordinating security at any large music festivals in Pittsylvania County. 
  • Representatives from Purpose Driven Events shared about their plans for the Blue Ridge Amphitheater in 2021 and potentially beyond. The company has run many music festivals and similar events.