On Dec. 9, the Performing Arts Collect of Tallahassee (PACT) will host their annual Christmas Rock Festival. The event has been a staple of the organization since PACT’s inception in 2018, drawing huge crowds every year. The festival itself has overcome many trials but has continued to persevere.
Alicia Kilman, the executive director of PACT, has held a front-row seat to the festival’s growth over the years. Before her current role, as the marketing director, Kilman assisted in orchestrating PACT’s first event, a three-day multi-genre music festival named the Ochlockonee River Music Festival. After being promoted to executive director, Kilman and PACT encountered their first challenge, Hurricane Michael.
According to Kilman, the aftermath of the hurricane forced the organization to cancel the festival after the venue’s roof was severely damaged and PACT lost most of its inventory. The storm almost financially paralyzed the organization. Kilman said that coinciding with the festival’s cancellation, the organization lost all their marketing investment and projected revenue.
Nevertheless, the organization’s purpose and goals remained paramount, and the execution of PACT’s vision persists today. Kilman says the Christmas Rock Festival has become popular for bands wanting to perform.
“The process for booking has become increasingly difficult because as the show grows each year,” Kilman said. “At the start, it was us reaching out to book. To date, when we announce our annual Christmas Show, we get an overwhelming amount of booking inquiries, which is humbling.”
This year, PACT is hosting the festival at the Legacy at the Riverfront. Kilman and Chris Godwin, the founder and a trustee of PACT, believe certain characteristics in the new venue will adequately accommodate the project crowds. They say Legacy is the only venue in town that has two stages and gives them the capability to host 14 bands on professional stages.
The annual Christmas Rock Festival, while serving as an opportunity for PACT to raise money to continue achieving its mission, also provides opportunities for attendees to give monetary donations, food and toys to many non-profits in Tallahassee. Kilman says that in the past, PACT has partnered with organizations such as Marine Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, Muse Tallahassee and the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association.
This year, Kilman says that the primary goal is raising money for the PACE Center for Girls, a facility for at-risk girls in Tallahassee. Kilman stated that PACT is working with PACE to provide various classes, ranging from audio engineering to hip-hop to guitar lessons.
“Funds from admissions, auctions and raffles help provide materials and supplies for each class,” Kilman said. “Such as PACT uniforms, gym bags, water bottles, headphones, workbooks, instruments, and additional resources for each student.”
Kilman believes the creative services PACT provides for at-risk youth in Tallahassee are essential. She said PACT provides opportunities for kids to get creative, can serve as a refuge, and can open the door to career opportunities.
“Programs and similar programs offered by organizations in Tallahassee are crucial for youth as it cultivates essential life skills, nurtures creativity, and offers a safe haven,” Kilman said. “They offer opportunities for artistic exploration, developing talents that might otherwise remain untapped. Moreover, such programs instill discipline, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities, preparing youth for diverse challenges.”
While the volume of bands vying to perform at the festival has increased exponentially, the Retrograde, a band with roots in the capital city, has remained a mainstay. The band, comprised of singer and lead guitarist Joe Fox, drummer Carson Degner, and bassist Josiah Pye, has played together since 2020.
They say performing at the Christmas Rock Festival is something they will always enjoy. For The Retrograde, the Christmas Rock Festival was their first performance together as a band.
“We’ve played at the Christmas show before; we always love coming back because the venue is so special to us,” Fox said. “We’ve had some of our best shows at The Warrior on The River, now named the Legacy at Riverfront.”
Tickets for the Christmas Rock Festival are currently $10 and can be purchased online at Eventbrite.com. The festival will begin at 5 p.m. For more information on the festival and PACT, individuals can check their website at pact.charity.com.