Martinsville, Virginia


Rooster Walk specializes in ‘family-friendly’ festival feel

Over the past 10 years, the Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival, located in Martinsville, Va., has steadily gained a reputation for bringing in some of the country’s hottest nationally touring “roots music” bands. With a mix of rock, blues, bluegrass, funk, jambands and folk, Rooster Walk offers something for a wide swatch of musical tastes. This year’s event is no different, and will take place at the Pop’s Farm music venue over Memorial Day weekend (May 23-26, 2019).

Quietly, the festival has also gained a different reputation among the thousands who attend: That of an incredibly family-friendly, kid-friendly event that music fans of all ages can enjoy.

Rives Coleman is a real estate agent in Martinsville and a veteran of countless concerts and festivals, but he’s also a father of two girls who love the festival.

“It's their second Christmas. It really is,” said Coleman of his girls, ages 14 and 11. “As soon as Christmas is over, they start looking forward to Rooster Walk. They just have so much fun reconnecting with friends and having some freedom at the event.”

A well-developed kids’ area in the center of the venue, called the Kids’ Coop, has its own stage, a giant slip’n’slide, a playground and four days’ worth of arts, crafts, drum circles, painting, magic acts, a ‘Mommy & Me’ tent for new and expecting mothers, and a kids’ parade led by adult musicians.

The Kids’ Coop, sponsored by American National Bank, has been led by Bruce and Emily Burgess the past four years. The Danbury, N.C., couple has an impressive background in early childhood education, summer camp instruction, and youth music education.

“We want the Kids’ Coop area to be interactive,” Bruce explained. “The craft tent, we kind of set that up like a ‘Maker Space’ with a lot of different activities kids can do, but without necessarily telling them what to do with their creations. We try to create some guidelines but let the children be creative. But it’s not just for the kids. It’s a space, we hope, where the parents can be spending quality time with their children.”

“My kids always look forward to the face painting, slip’n’slide, and the arts and crafts.  There are shows tailored specifically towards kids such as magic shows and marching with a band around the festival grounds,” said Martinsville resident Anna McClain, who’s been bringing her two daughters to the festival for the past seven years. “I always feel they are in a safe but fun environment.”

That safe feeling is one of the things that Rives Coleman likes the most about Rooster Walk.

“I like the safety of Rooster Walk, that my kids know the areas they can go to, go have fun, and I don't ever feel that they're in harm’s way. They can have a good time, not just in the kids’ area, but also at all the stages and all parts of the venues,” he said. “I think Rooster Walk should be thanked for making it a family-friendly event. I've gone to these events for 30-plus years, and it's by far the safest and the most family-friendly event that I've attended.”

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