Visit the eighth annual Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival in Martinsville, Va., this May, and you’ll hear bluegrass great Sam Bush, funk headliners Lettuce, plus countless other notable acts of various genres. You’ll see vendors selling food, art, jewelry, outdoor gear and crafts, plus thousands of music fans of all ages, many of them camping on-site. But Rooster Walk, which will take place May 26-29th at the Pop’s Farm festival venue, is more than meets the eye. In fact, it’s “more than a festival.”
When Martinsville natives Edwin “the Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank passed away within a year of each other, their friends wanted to hold a memorial event in their honor. In 2009, Rooster Walk – a scholarship fundraising festival that drew inspiration from Penn and Shank’s love of music and the outdoors – was born. And while the first Rooster Walk drew perhaps 500 attendees, this year’s event is expected to attract more than 5,000 people over the course of four days.
Since RW1, the festival has grown in virtually every facet.It is now run by a 501c3 community nonprofit, Rooster Walk Inc., whose mission is to promote music, arts and education in Martinsville-Henry County, Va. The festival has donated more than $80,000 to local charities, including the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund at Martinsville High School.
In addition, the band lineup has expanded from the local and regional offerings of RW1 to more than 45 national and internationally touring bands such as Sam Bush, Lettuce, Perpetual Groove, The Revivalists, Tab Benoit, The Motet, Rayland Baxter, TAUK, Larry Keel and many more.
In addition to the vendors, kids’ activities and the on-site camping, RW8 will also feature the Tuff Strutter 5k Trail Race, the chance to float the nearby Smith River and a wide variety of craft beer and wine.