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Lockn’ Festival: Interlocking music, students and the community

University students help make Lockn’ Festival a success

The 2015 Lockn’ Festival will take place Sept. 10 through 13 in Arrington, Virginia. Started in 2013, the festival centers on musical collaborations and improvisational acts.

With the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop, the festival attracts thousands of attendees annually. This year, siblings Kelsey McKechnie, a third-year College student, and Ian McKechnie, a first-year College student, helped organize the festival. The pair worked as marketing assistants.

Ian McKechnie did the bulk of his internship over the summer, while Kelsey McKechnie began her internship in January 2014. Their work covered a variety of responsibilities — much more than stapling and running errands.

“[We did] a lot of social media — reaching out over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were the big ones,” Kelsey McKechnie said. “We also [answered] customer service questions alone and [did] a lot of things like hanging up posters…Ian went to different concerts this summer and handed out flyers.”

For the McKechnies, the internship provided a unique inside look at the business side of the music industry.

“A few of the people in marketing were really overwhelmed so they asked us to negotiate ticket trade deals with radio stations and record stores,” Ian McKechnie said.

The students typically spent about 25 hours a week working in an office Downtown. However, they often tacked on more time promoting Lockn’ throughout the community.

Once the festival arrives, the McKechnies will leave the office behind and head to Oak Ridge Farm to volunteer for the weekend. For the siblings, the music festival is much more than four fun, hectic days.

“In reality people work year round to put this thing on,” Ian McKechnie said. “It’s interesting to see how many jobs center around this one music festival.”

In addition to music, the festival supports sustainability efforts by offering locally sourced organic food vendors and promoting local nonprofits.

“The vetting process is thorough for the vendors and also for the nonprofits,” Ian McKechnie said. “They give festivalgoers the opportunity to donate and get involved. It’s a really cool thing because I don’t think that these businesses, being in Nelson County, normally get exposure to a base that large.”

The McKechnie siblings both said the festival’s strong sense of community made working as interns and volunteers especially rewarding.

“There’s [a Facebook group] called ‘Lockn’ Festival Family’ and people post the nicest things to people that they don’t even know,” Ian McKechnie said. “They’re so thankful that they have this community, and they say that they look forward to these four days more than any other days in the year.”

The McKechnies’ experiences as interns have allowed them to explore different interests, and they hope to carry skills they have learned through school and into the job market.

“As a Media Studies major, it’s cool to look at their different accounts, like their Facebook and their Instagram, and see how those can be really great tools to reach out to their audience,” Kelsey McKechnie said. “Especially a younger audience, since our generation is really tuned in to those sorts of things.”

Although the McKechnies’ future summer plans remain uncertain, Ian McKechnie said he will still be a passionate follower and attendee of Lockn’ Festival.

“I really hope to be here and get involved with the festival every single year for as long as possible,” Ian McKechnie said.