Making Suffolk a festival city

Published 8:55 pm Saturday, January 17, 2015

Their goal could be described as a bit audacious, but organizers are pressing ahead with their plans for a music festival in May at the Suffolk Executive Airport.

The LAVA Music Festival will be a one-day local foray into the entertainment genre that reached its iconic peak with Woodstock but has really come into its own during the past 20 years with Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo and others that have turned the period from May to September into “Festival Season.”

There’s reason to think this could be a big deal. Organizers say they expect thousands of music fans will turn out for the event, and for anybody who wants a taste of what it’s like to spend a day in the sun walking from one stage to the other to catch a half-dozen or more bands, this will be the way to do so without spending many hours in the car driving to a festival and even more hours waiting in traffic to get onto the site.

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LAVA will give area residents — plus a lot of folks who are expected to drive here from Richmond and other parts of the state — a chance to see a variety of national-level recording artists, along with a couple of Hampton Roads acts. Rock festivals are places where musicians hope to be discovered by new fans, to collaborate with other artists and to let down their hair and have fun under the hot sun.

For the city, the festival will represent a completely new revenue stream, as many visitors are likely to take advantage of Suffolk businesses on the way into or out of the event, some will stay in area hotels, and entertainment taxes will be collected for each ticket sold. Closing the airport for a day to make it available for the event will be a worthy trade-off.

It’s a long way from Woodstock — both geographically and artistically — but Suffolk’s LAVA Music Festival — much like the festival in New York — could be a great way to launch the city as a destination for music lovers for generations to come.