Anthem GO Outside Festival Reaches New Heights in 2023

The 2023 Anthem GO Outside Festival filled the region with excitement for outdoor sports and community. After weathering the pandemic, challenges in the outdoor industry, and the move to a new location, Roanoke’s “best weekend of the year” is back and better than ever with a whopping 40,000 attendees.

Growing into its new home centered around Elmwood Park, the GO Outside Festival offered an elevated experience – in more ways than one – to attendees looking for new ways to connect with the community and get outside. Looking up, attendees caught images of balancing highline slackliners; back-flipping BMX stunt riders; and pole-climbing lumberjacks. If they wandered Jefferson Street, Franklin Road, and Elmwood Park, they were met with over 100 exhibitors from all aspects of the outdoor industry: retail shops, non-profits, clubs, and national brands. Demo areas for paddling, climbing, and biking were positioned throughout the festival and remained busy the entire weekend with people trying new sports and new gear. And, of course, there were plenty of delicious food offerings and three separate locations to purchase local craft beer.

The Year of the Collab

The secret sauce behind the GO Outside Festival’s success has always been its ability to bring people together for the purpose of getting outside. Examples of working together were strong with this year’s event:

  • The Carilion Kids Bike Area featured a collab between Carilion, Team Twenty24, PedalSafe, RIDESoluntions, and Brain Injury Services of Southwest VA.
  • Roanoke Mountain Adventures, Virginia Outside, and Wilderness Adventure worked together to give families a well-rounded set of experiences in their “GOLympics” activation.
  • Fleet Feet and Noke Van Co debuted a new van, created in collaboration.
  • Fleet Feet and Cardinal Bicycle teamed up on offerings tailored to triathletes.
  • The Campfire Stage presented by Mast General Store, was presented in collaboration with The Humble Hustle Company and the festival.
  • The Virginia Dept of Wildlife Resources collaborated with the Wild Way at the Demo Pool.
  • Camping is an exciting new collab between GO Fest and Explore Park
  • The Walkabout Outfitter Wild Gear Chase is a festival favorite and a collaboration between local retail shops, headed up by Walkabout Outfitter, to send folks on a wild chase around the City.
  • The ultimate collab: Roanoke Outside Foundation & Parks and Recreation, which was highlighted in the campfire chat on Friday night with Pete Eshelman (Roanoke Outside Foundation) and Patrick Boas (Roanoke Parks and Recreation).

GO Fest by the numbers

  • 40,000 attendees, 25% increase over 2022
  • $2 million in total spending.
  • 15% of visitors from outside the Roanoke Region
  • 118 Vendors
  • 133 outdoor activities
  • 364 volunteers

Festival Buzz

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Here are few testimonials we got from folks at the Festival.

  • “My family and my business both look forward to GO Fest every single year and basically rate it as one of our favorite weekends. For over 10 years my company has had the opportunity to vend and meet so many awesome people.. but what really makes the event special for me is that my kids can tag along, explore things on their own safely and most importantly want to be there! Keep it up; you guys rule!”
  • “As a local non-profit, Clean Valley Council has been part of GO Fest since its inception and loves being an exhibitor! Every year we raise more awareness regarding environmental education and promote the LOVE of the great outdoors! Organizers are top notch and experts in their craft! GO GO GO FEST! See you next year.”
  • “If you want to directly reach hundreds (or even thousands) of individual and families in the Roanoke Valley, there is no event better than GO Fest!”
  • “GO Fest is by far our favorite time of year. It is a great place to connect with like-minded people and companies and share with everyone our love of everything outdoors!”
  • “We were beyond ecstatic to be a vendor at GO Fest for the first time this year. We had a great location and met so many people that were excited to learn about us and come visit us at The Peaks Retreat and Adventure Center. Thank you for putting on this amazing event and connecting so many people to the outdoors and to like-minded organizations trying to do the same!”
  • “GO Fest is truly exposing the outdoors to a diverse community. New people, races, backgrounds, age they are attending the festival and it shows. That is the best improvement for the Festival.”

There’s more where that came from. If you’re looking forward to the Anthem GO Outside Festival’s return, put October 18-20 on your calendar and sign up for our newsletter or give us a follow at @RoanokeGOFest for updates.