Parks and Recreation Festival Has Huge Economic Impact in Roanoke

November 11, 2016 whitney

Attendance surged this year at the annual Anthem GO Outside Festival (GO Fest): a free three-day festival that celebrates nature and outdoor recreation. This marks the sixth year that the City of Roanoke’s Parks and Recreation department has co-hosted GO Fest with Roanoke Outside. The festival, which took place on Oct. 14 – 16 at River’s Edge Sports Complex, attracted 30,000 people and generated an estimated $180,000 in retail sales in a single weekend.

“Based on the great feedback and how smooth everything went from an organizational standpoint, this was indeed our best year yet,” said Patrick Boas, Co-Director for GO Fest and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator, City of Roanoke Parks and Recreation.

Not only did attendance grow by 20 percent, the festival attracted visitors and vendors from 39 states. Deemed Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Best of the Blue Ridge Top Festival, GO Fest included 140 free activities, ranging from free yoga and rock climbing to log rolling and gear demos; live music presented by FloydFest’s producers and performances by 12 distinguished pro athletes. More than 100 retail vendors, outdoor gear manufacturers and food trucks set up shop and 20,000 beers from Deschutes Brewery and Parkway Brewery were sold.

Why have the numbers grown so much in just five years? The event organizers credit their growing list of sponsors.

“GO Fest’s success greatly correlates with the strong partnerships that we’ve built over the years,” said Boas. “Through new partnerships with Across the Way Productions, Deschutes Brewery and Barebones Living, we were able to offer huge live concerts, a cast iron and craft beer dinner, and VIP glamping – or glamorous camping – to GO Fest for the first time.”

Although the growing festival offers big live entertainment acts, thousands of dollars in gear giveaways and free activities, it has remained free to the public, thanks to the support of its sponsors.

“Our goal as a department is to deliver affordable and accessible programs for community members of all ages, which is why it’s so important that GO Fest continues to be a free event,” added Boas. “We’re thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who donated their time and hard work, and to our long-standing partners, like Anthem, Keen Footwear, Parkway Brewery and Carter Machinery, who have been with us from the beginning. They are a big reason why GO Fest has grown so quickly while letting us maintain free admission.”

Next year, GO Fest will take place on Oct. 20 – 22 at River’s Edge Sports Complex. To learn more about the upcoming festival and opportunities to get involved, visit

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