by Brendan Quinn —
For years, Progress Festival has occurred during the Virginia Tech spring semester. This year the festival will take place on May 18-20, after final exams and graduation. This schedule change could result in a smaller share of the student population attending the festival, which has roots in the student community.
There are many reasons why the festival was pushed back this year. The weather played a huge role in the scheduling change, as torrential downpours dampened last year’s festival. As Progress Festival founder and organizer John Clockwood describes, “April is right in monsoon season, and I don’t think anyone going to Progress Fest can stomach five more inches of rain.”
Food supplies also factor into the schedule shift. Clockwood envisions the festival as a place where you can get everything, including sustenance. According to him, moving the festival back further into harvest season means the festival can rely on locally sourced organic foods.
Additionally, Clockwood believes turnout would be hurt by the crowded Spring Semester this year. He says that the festival would have to contend with the Virginia Tech Spring Football Game, Radford University final exams, and Virginia Tech final exams.
The schedule change could have negative ramifications for the festival, though, as students have comprised a large portion of the audience and they may not stick around once the semester ends. Clockwood has faith that students will return for the festival, saying, “I think that people would come back because people really care about the festival, and I have seen in previous years people always come back; they graduate and move on and they drive six, seven, eight, even ten hours to come back and see everyone that they know.” As for current students, he says, “this just means they get to see their friends two weeks after they left.”
Sine Wave Surfers Festival will now take place April 20, the weekend normally reserved for Progress Festival. Its founder Adam Wirdzek, who will also perform at Progress Festival as Electrobro, described the concern of students balancing Progress Festival with upcoming final exams, saying, “It takes a lot of the pressure off of a lot of our demographic, students, from worrying about doing a full-blown music festival right near finals.” Wirdzek is not concerned about his festival, however, saying, “It’s just one day, so you don’t have to survive a whole festival.”
Final exams, graduation, and numerous high profile Blacksburg events have forced Blacksburg DIY Music organizers to adjust their normal plans. They just hope that the gamble pays off.