Come On Home

New music festival in Alleghany County aims high.

It’s a music festival for folks who used to go to festivals, says organizer Michelle Rucker of the 3-day event she and her husband Joshua will host at her family’s Glen Haven Farm in Alleghany County June 9-11.

“It takes a little bit of insanity and a wealth of passion to get involved in this business,” explains Michelle, a devoted music festival-goer until she and her husband became parents. Between the crowds, loud music, cigarette smoke and spilled beers, the idea of keeping tabs on their toddler at a typical festival (and having fun while doing it) was unimaginable she says, which “can be disheartening for fans that are seeking a more intimate experience.” Instead of giving up on festival life altogether, the couple created an event of their own, the Homecoming Festival—one that is family-friendly but still embodies the fun and excitement of the festival experience.

The 3-day event—named for the opportunity it creates “for those transplanted elsewhere to come back home,” according to Michelle—is intended as a celebration of Virginia culture. It will be held in a newly renovated event space located on the Ruckers’ 50-acre organic family farm, which grows specialty crops, such as lavender, garlic, shiitake mushrooms and, the Ruckers’ focus, “fresh, wet, organic, yummy hops.”

The festival will feature only locally-based businesses and entertainment in a bid, the Ruckers hope, to bring awareness and appreciation to what Michelle describes as Virginia’s “magic makers—musicians, artists, metalsmiths, food artisans, craftsmen, brewers, etc. [whose] talent and skill allow them to create what the average person otherwise could not.”

The Homecoming Festival will feature a 19-act lineup, including Richmond-based band Big Mama Shakes and Arlington’s Revelator Hill. Many different genres—from bluegrass to reggae to “beach country”—will be represented. While enjoying the tunes, festival-goers can explore booths manned by local artisans selling wares, such as jewelry, blown glass and pottery. Food trucks offering dumplings, pork skins, artisan grilled cheeses, shaved ice and more will be available along with beer from local craft brewers Starr Hill, Pale Fire, Bold Rock Cider and Devil’s Backbone.

Interactive entertainment for children will be available throughout the weekend, including a petting zoo and pony rides, and a fireworks show on Saturday night. Sunday is especially youth-focused: The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center will present a host of its resident critters, including owls, hawks, an opossum and a box turtle.

Proceeds from the festival will go the Virginia Agrology Collective. VAC is dedicated to building an educational platform from which local farmers can learn new techniques for integrating technology and agriculture in an increasingly automated age. “We have to loop back around to the land through technology by supporting the community from the dirt to the cloud,” says Joshua, who has a background in IT.

The Ruckers hope that the Homecoming Festival will benefit rural communities in and around Clifton Forge by generating both revenue and increased interest in the farms, craftsmen and producers who reside there.

Tickets $5 – $50. The event is limited to 3,000 attendees.

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