As the annual l Loudoun YouthFest celebration approaches, teens are scheduling final band practices and polishing set lists.
Eleven local teen bands will perform throughout the festival June 17 at the Barn at One Loudoun, culminating with headliner Cruisr.
Started in 2005, YouthFest is a collaboration between Loudoun Youth, Inc., Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services and the Youth Advisory Council (YAC). The YAC is made up of teenagers who spend a year planning smaller events like Battle of the Bands before planning YouthFest, event director Alex Beard said.
“Most high school students don’t get this opportunity,” Beard said. “The goal is that by the end, they’re able to run a full event by themselves and they do accomplish that.”
Dominion High School senior Anika Maan has served as this year’s YAC president. She was inspired to get involved after YouthFest 2013 when she saw other teens working the event. She also enjoyed the politics and community service aspect in working with the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
“Rain or shine, it’s good music and good food,” Maan said. “Each year it keeps getting better and better.”
YouthFest has drawn thousands of people in past years, and organizers are hoping for clear weather to bring out a large turnout. Last year’s event drew a couple hundred because of rain, but even then, it was still fun, Loudoun Youth Executive Director Steve Wolfson said.
“It was still a successful event. The planning the teens did went off without a hitch, even their contingency plan,” Wolfson said. “So it’s not a dollars and cents issue, it’s what the teens are getting out of it.”
The event, held each springtime, offers entertainment, games and inflatables, interactive exhibits that focus on healthy living, after-school programs, community organizations, belonging and diversity. A nonprofit fair is available to participants all day, where teens can learn about the different organizations that work to serve the community and how they can get involved, Loudoun Youth
YouthFest is the culmination of a Battle of the Bands with top winners performing on the big stage with professional sounds and lighting. Local teen bands Stone Cold, 10 Degrees Colder and Never Born to Follow won Battle of the Bands Fan Favorite, second place and first place, respectively. They will be the final acts before the headliner.
Although most bands are made up of high school students, Stone Cold is unique in that four of its five members are in middle school and have only played together since January. Nadia Daly, the band’s keyboard and bassist, said she’s looking forward tot he opportunity to play music and get out in the public eye more.
Never Born to Follow, made up of Tuscarora Allan Fogelson, Zach Jones, Derek Johnson and sophomore Nick Beers, are no strangers to YouthFest and have been playing together since fall 2015. As the Battle of the Bands winners, they earned the opening spot for headliner Cruisr.
“We always enjoy being able to compete with other talented bands,” Jones said. “We get to be with youth who love music and showcase our talent.”
Never Born to Follow is also looking forward to selling copies of its first EP at YouthFest.