Lockn’ festival is groomed and geared up for more

Lockn’ festival producer Dave Frey shows off a whimsical addition to Garcia’s Forest, the portal door. “Walk through and if you don't like what happens to you, just walk right back the other way and it will undo it all,” he jokes. Staff photo Lockn’ festival producer Dave Frey shows off a whimsical addition to Garcia’s Forest, the portal door. “Walk through and if you don’t like what happens to you, just walk right back the other way and it will undo it all,” he jokes. Staff photo

Lockn’ festival returns to Oak Ridge Farm on Thursday, and while the musical acts including Phish, Ween and My Morning Jacket are expected to draw more than 30,000 fans to the area, event producer Dave Frey defines the key to enjoying the festival as “locality.”

Pointing out the attributes of the recently established Nelson County Preserve, an area of more than 300 acres adjacent to Oak Ridge, Frey says the multi-performance landscape is part of his “20-year plan to create a park—for ourselves, for our community and for the people who come here.”

From the pastoral main stage setting tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, three tents of local gourmet food and a Super VIP ticket option, to the curated bike-only trails, swimming sessions at WaterLockn’ and live dub flow with Opal Yoga, Frey and his partner, Peter Shapiro, bring the mid-Atlantic region a modern version of your grandma’s Woodstock.

With many small improvements made in efficiency—charging stations, more shade, family hangouts—Frey says the biggest change this year is the new stage. A round platform 56′ in diameter, Frey calls it “the world’s largest turntable.” The traditional interlocking sets will be presented by cutting the round stage across the middle with a wall and presenting one act on the front half while the next one sets up behind the wall. When it’s time for the next set, they’ll just turn the stage.

Fans can expect the usual jams and collaborations that have branded Lockn’ as a unique live experience with major players showing up at campfires and local bands getting national exposure. Frey says the festival reputation has become a brand itself. “No one even cares who plays anymore,” he says. “ They just go.”

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