We are told this sign will not appear on the Blue Ridge Parkway near FloydFest this year (this photo is from last year’s event) but the information comes from the Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent’s office and the office of the Chief Ranger and both have proven themselves serial liars in the past.
Park Superintendent Phil Francis says the Criminal Interdiction Team, the Gestapo-like Park Rangers who harassed festival goers last year, has been "disbanded."
A Jan. 18 letter from parkway Superintendent Philip Francis to Boucher said that FloydFest will be treated the same as any other event of its size along the parkway.
Francis also wrote that the parkway would disband its Criminal Interdiction Team, which had been assigned to patrol around FloydFest. The unit had realized its goals of increasing apprehensions for impaired driving and drug and weapons violations, and of cutting down on collisions, Francis wrote.
But what Francis says is different from the double speak from Chief Ranger John Garrison, who told WSLS Channel 10:
The National Park Service demobilized its criminal interdiction team for this year’s Floyd Fest, according to Blue Ridge Parkway chief ranger John Garrison.
The interdiction team caused controversy at last year’s event after a number of attendees claimed rangers were too quick to pull people over, and perhaps profiled some festival goers. Garrison said last year’s concerns were one of the factors which parked the team for this year’s event, which begins Thursday.
There’s a big difference between "disbanding" and "demobilizing." Garrison says the CIT team has been parked.
In a meeting last year, Francis first told Boucher the CIT was not operating at FloydFest last year but later "clarified" his story to the Congressman. Garrison said the team had not been recalled because of the controversy but later Francis said they had. Francis also claimed a highly-publicized incident between a Park Ranger and Floyd County Sheriff Shannon Zeman "never happened" even though the county’s chief investigator was in the car with Zeman and confirmed the encounter.
A warning to everyone this weekend: The people who run the Parkway and the Parkway police are lying — and usual — and you probably couldn’t force the truth out of them with waterboarding.
FloydFest kicks off its four days of music, crafts, games, lifestyle and fun today at the Patrick County site just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The collection of musical acts includes perennial crowds favorites like Donna the Buffalo (above) plus Railroad Earth, Dave Grisman and many others.
Some see the annual event, which grows in size and scope every year, as a Woodstockian "hippie" festival but FloydFest has evolved into a family weekend (below) that includes fans of all ages and persuasions. It is an event that has makes Floyd a popular summer destination for many and brings much-needed dollars into the local economy.
We won’t be there this weekend because of a prior commitment but the weather forecast looks good for the festival, which has been hit by rain, storms and even a hurricane in seasons past.
It should be a banner weekend for Kris, Erika and all the folks at Across The Way Productions. (Photos from Floydfest 2006)