Fans pour into Daytona Beach for Welcome to Rockville

Festival runs through May 21

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Thousands of people are heading to Daytona Beach for Welcome to Rockville this weekend. Over 170,000 people are expected to pack into Daytona International Speedway — the largest crowd in history for the festival.

It started off a little rocky, and not because of the music. Thursday’s storms caused a temporary evacuation for the first day of the festival, but fans poured back in Friday ready to see their favorite bands.

It’s a heavy metal and rock fan’s paradise. The infield of International Speedway was transformed, with stages that will hold more than 95 bands over the four-day festival including headliners Slipknot, Tool, Avenged Sevenfold and Pantera.

“There’s nothing else that comes to this town. Every festival is in Miami or LA and it’s finally cool to have a rock concert come here,” said Devynn from Daytona Beach.

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It all takes weeks to set up. Teams with the promoter, Danny Wimmer Presents, have been preparing for everything safety and weather-wise, too.

“This is getting even bigger now. This is our third year here and we’re expanding,” said festival host Jose Mangin.

During Thursday’s evacuation, fans had to go to cars or the grandstand. An hour later, they were able to come back in and the bands picked back up.

“It was good. Getting back in kind of sucked, the line got long,” said Doug, visiting from Tennessee.

For some, it was a sore reminder of last year’s cancellations due to a series of storms.

“Sitting in the grandstands the whole time! It was brutal,” said Martina from Daytona Beach.

Mangin said the team is monitoring weather around the clock and spreading the word quickly on social media and on jumbo screens if there’s an issue.

“Imagine something happening to somebody because they didn’t want to stop the show,” he said.

The fans said they’re ready to take on anything mother nature throws at them, but hope for sunnier skies going forward.

“We are hoping for better weather this year. I mean it is Florida. It could be raining on this side and sunny on this side so it is what it is! As long as we get to see some of the bands, it’s great,” Martina said.

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Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.