The Gaines Group
red wing music festival

Southern Stage Renovation at Natural Chimney for Red Wing Roots Music Festival

Southern Stage Renovation at Natural Chimney for Red Wing Roots Music Festival

A few months ago we were approached by our friends at Red Wing Roots Music Festival about the Southern Stage. The stage is the only permanent performance venue at Natural Chimney Park. It was not designed for a top-notch family friendly music festival. The roof line was too low, the lighting rigs were hard to install, the space was not deep enough, and the there was not room for the control booth. We were asked to develop a concept for a new stage that would meet the current demands for the festival.

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We had to learn a lot and fortunately the event promoters Jeremiah and Michael have all the knowledge we needed. We learned about how lighting, sound, layout, and heights to make an optimal performance space. These guys know their stuff and it was a joy to work with them. With every design project, we go through this phase of learning what our clients know. Listening and learning are a must for quality design work. As an architect, our specialty is building science, proportions, structure, materials…. it is our clients that know the function needed. We just have to be able to take their knowledge and transform it into a design.

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We started with a few concepts and this one seemed to be the right path.

red wing music festival

We worked with Herr & Co. to develop a budget that fit the project. It took a few attempts as it sometimes does. Once we had a path and Blue Ridge Timberwrights joined the team, the design fell into place. Literally, I think we finished design in about 24 hours after the team conference call. In my opinion at that point all the hard work was done. However, Venture Builders might have a different opinion as they are actually building the structure with Blue Ridge Timberwrights. It is taking an entire team of community minded construction professionals to pull this project off.

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I am looking forward to seeing the finished product in action at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival this year. I cannot wait! Have you gotten your tickets yet?

Here is a photo of Natural Chimney from the early 1900’s. The photo is from the C. Grattan Price, Jr. Collection.

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Natural Chimneys at Mt. Solon was one of the railroad’s more famous spots to entice passengers from afar. Excursion trains were operated there, just a few hundred yards from the tracks. Note horse and carriage at foot of tower for scale.

Here it is from our site visit to measure the existing stage.

red wing music festival

Natural Chimneys Park and Campground from their website:

It’s hard to imagine, but the Shenandoah Valley was once the floor of a great inland sea. Centuries ago, as that sea receded, the forces of nature carefully etched out an awe-inspiring formation of solid rock. The seven Natural Chimneys tower as much as 120 feet above the pastoral terrain of the Shenandoah Valley, offering onlookers a sight unrivaled in majesty. 

Viewed from one angle, the formations resemble enormous chimneys standing in bleak contrast to the greenery of the Valley. Take a few steps, though, and the chimneys are transformed into the massive turrets of a foreboding medieval castle. 

Natural Chimneys Park in Mt. Solon, Virginia offers more than simply the splendor of towering limestone formations. Both day visitors and those who choose to stay overnight in the seasonal campground find plenty of space and opportunities for recreation, relaxation and fellowship.  The park is open for day use from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.


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