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SlopFest Returns: DIY-Centered Festival Honors Founder Derek Wiggs

Derek Wiggs playing with Shehehe at the Georgia Theatre in 2017. Credit: Mike White

Near the end of last week a severe thunderstorm rolled through Athens almost five years to the day of a similar summer storm bringing hail and cutting off power downtown—the same night longtime attendees of SlopFest recall as one of the most memorable instances of the festival.

Lindsey Roper and T Silva recount the chaos at Little Kings Shuffle Club while they were setting up as sideways winds swept up the outdoor stage tent and carried it over to nearby Frogger, and hail broke the window panes of the front door. Huddling inside without power, some people gathered candles to light the bar, while others brought in flashlights. But the resilient festival carried on in true DIY-powered spirit with a cash-only bar and acoustic sets played by whoever was down to grab the guitar.

Power or no power, everyone saw it through and had a great time: The epitome of the spirit and attitude behind rowdy, punk- and metal-oriented SlopFest. It was one of the few times SlopFest founder Derek Wiggs played the festival himself, notes Roper, who also points out that although he was a known musician he never made it about himself.

Wiggs died suddenly last year on Oct. 1 following a medical emergency at 38 years old. The news was felt hard by the Athens community and his extended musical family. Roper and Silva, more than just longtime SlopFest attendees, were close friends of Wiggs, and stood by his side from the very beginning of the festival. The pair are part of a group of organizers (including Max Talkovich, Caitlin Gal, Graham Shirley and Chris McNeal) resurrecting SlopFest for its 11th year in honor and remembrance of Wiggs. This year’s festival will take place over three days from July 27–29 at Little Kings with single-day tickets ($12) or a weekend pass ($32) on sale now.

The commitment to bring back the festival happened when a group of friends sitting on the Little Kings patio were sharing stories about Wiggs and talking about how he had started to reach out to people about a post-pandemic return. The 10th anniversary of SlopFest took place in 2019, and COVID shut down Wiggs’ festival planning the following year. He had started to streamline the festival and assign out different tasks at that point, says Roper, but the COVID experience left him feeling like maybe 10 years was a solid place to end the festival.

“But then last year he started talking to everybody about how important it was to the community, and that he didn’t want to be selfish because he didn’t want to keep doing it. He wanted to bring it back because he knew it was important to everybody else,” says Roper.

David Mack

SlopFest formed in 2009 to fill a hole in the community and as a tribute to PopFest when Athens’ high-profile August event was discontinued. The lineups have always featured heavier rock genres, DIY townies and bands often left off larger festivals like AthFest. Held at the end of July—one of Athens’ slowest times of the year before August brings back the flood of college students and football crowds—everything about the festival feels truly catered to the residents who make Athens the town it is.

“The people who stay here all summer and work their butts off all year round, this is for us. It wasn’t a giant festival that people were going to come in from all over the Southeast and book hotels and spend all this money in Athens. It was for everyone who lived here,” says Silva.

The intention of SlopFest was always to make it a fundraising event for the community, and in 2010 Wiggs decided to benefit the youth music nonprofit We Rock Athens. Many of the musicians who performed at SlopFest were affiliated with We Rock Athens, so it was a natural fit, explains Roper. This year’s festival will also benefit the nonprofit, and the organizers secured sponsorships for the first time to ensure that this SlopFest will be the best that it can be while also making sure as much money raised as possible goes directly to We Rock Athens.

Also new this year is the addition of official food vendors: The Red Eye on Thursday, Mouthfeel on Friday and Spicy Thaiger on Saturday. Aside from occasional food pop-ups run by friends in the past, Roper says, laughing, that everyone mostly survived on the cheeseballs served at the bar. “And gummy bears,” adds Silva.

Admission is 21 and up, with a stacked lineup of both old friends and fresh faces that may have never been able to attend SlopFest due to the four-year hiatus. Kicking off the festival on Thursday is Danger Bucket, Hunger Anthem, Nuclear Tourism, Bursters, Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes, and Infinite Favors, with an ending DJ set by DJ Lozo & Lord Bitter. Performing on Friday are Clavus, Real Wow, Gorgeous Beast, Multiple Miggs, Coma Therapy, Naw and Weaponized Flesh, with DJ Reindeer Games ending the night. To close out the festival on Saturday are Small Beige Girl, Donkey Punch, Rubber Udder, McQueen, Pervert, The Sporrs and Vincas, with DJ Mahogany closing.

“Derek was the happiest guy; he always wanted to make people happy,” says Silva.

“He loved to make people laugh, and he did it constantly. He just wanted everyone else to have a good time,” says Roper. “He would not believe how excited so many people have been that SlopFest is coming back.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

WHO: SlopFest 11
WHEN: Thursday, July 27–Saturday, July 29, 5 p.m.
WHERE: Little Kings Shuffle Club
HOW MUCH: $12–32

Tributes to Derek Wiggs

“I’m confident that Derek left an indelible impression on everyone who had the good fortune to know him. His contribution to the Athens community is incalculable. Not only did he spend countless hours organizing SlopFest, supporting multiple nonprofit organizations in the process, he was a musician in many bands over the years, and he was a genuine friend and a beloved goofball. I will never forget his impact on me as a co-worker, fellow musician and friend. He was consistently supportive and encouraging to me and to others. His presence warmed my heart. He made me laugh. A lot. He was unendingly humble and really cared about others. I will never forget him.”
Erica Strout

“I ♥️ SlopFest. Truly.
There is something about it that feels different from other shows I’ve seen or played. SlopFest always had more of a house party energy to it. Like folx all bunched together rocking the fuck out as their friends’ band fills the living room with sound. That’s the energy of a SlopFest.
Thank you, Derek.”
Leticia Guest

“My favorite part of opening [Little Kings] SlopFest days was playing ‘Find Derek’s Glasses.’”
Jeremy Dyson

“I think hanging out with Derek at SlopFest was a huge part of starting our friendship and making it stronger and better over the years. SlopFest always seemed to stress him out in the time leading up to it, but once everything came together, he would just beam with joy, and not a little relief. I’ve met so many great people there and had the pleasure of introducing SlopFest to some of my best friends, including my husband. I think one of the best things about SlopFest is just how locally oriented it is, kinda like Derek. And of course, the good it does for women and girls in music.”
Staci Smith-Catherman

“Hunt Brothers Pizza.
A walk with Hojo.
Chewed-out T-Shirt armpit holes.
Evan Williams and PBR fridge dollars.
Perpetual weed debt Domino.
I‘m your neighbor, can I get a dollar?
Very particular BBQ technique.
Probably shouldn’t be holding a firework right now.
Youtube Conspiracy video marathon.
Heels fully dug in for Green Day.
Baseball Baseball Baseball!
Getting caught taking a box cutter to a bounce house.
No such thing as an ugly woman.”