Annual Festivals/Fairs in Richmond, VA
Originally begun as the National Folk Festival--a traveling, three year festival that has visited 28 sites across the country, Richmond’s Folk Festival was a local offshoot, created after seeing the enormous success and attendance of the National Festival. This enormous, free, cultural event is one of Virginia’s largest--200,000 people attended over a three-day period in 2011. Taking place at Downtown Richmond’s Riverfront area, the festival embraces the heritage and traditions of all Americans, through music, craft, and food. World-class artisans, the Virginia Folklife Competition, a family area, and six stages of music and dance make it easy to find something for everyone. You’ll recognize names like Parliament Funkadelic and be pleased to discover a Malian ngoni ensemble or Tibetan sacred music and dance. October 12-14, 2012.
2012 will mark the fifth year of this extraordinary outdoor public art festival inspired by light, presented by 1708 Gallery. Unique to anything else in town, artists from all over the world exhibit their light installations in late October in response to a specific outdoor location in Richmond. Last year focused on the historic Riverfront and Tredegar Iron Works, an area which was key during the Civil War. In addition to light, the artists use sound, performance, sculpture, video, electronics, animation and more to help viewers re-imagine the landscape. Participants are invited to participate in the lantern parade, with workshops held all month prior to learn to make–your-own lanterns to employ on a semi-organized parade around the exhibition area.
In it’s 24th year in 2012, on the first full weekend in October, nearly 50,000 visitors come together to share live music, including Jazz, R&B, and Gospel, children’s activities, antique car shows, street vendors, and food. 2nd Street was historically the heart and soul of Richmond’s African-American community in the Jackson Ward neighborhood—one currently in transition. Many new restaurants and other attractions have recently opened there, including the newly renovated historic Hippodrome Theater, where Ella Fitzgerald, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Duke Ellington once performed. Admission is free.
Every fall, around two dozen brew masters from Virginia and neighboring states bring their homemade Brunswick stew—a thick, vegetable and meat based stew, usually containing various types of beans, corn, okra, and one or more meats. More traditional recipes include rabbit or squirrel, though here you’ll find mostly chicken or pork. Samples are available for only a dollar and bowls for $3. Simply tasting several stalls worth of samples is enough to fill you up. Quarts are only available for sale after 1pm, and lines begin forming early for fans to take their favorites home. Most of the good places sell out, so arrive early. Attendees vote on their favorites and each group proudly displays their titles each year. Locals will tell you that Brunswick stew originated from nearby Brunswick County, Virginia. Join Saturday, November 3, 2012, for the 13th year. 11am-4pm. Free.
This two-day, multi-stage summer event will occur August 10-12, 2012, featuring more than 20 local, national, and international bands and artists in the genre of Jazz and other soul and smooth sounds. Visitors travel from all over the country to attend. Performers have included Chaka Khan, Chuck Mangione, Robin Thicke, Aaron Neville, and Plunky and Oneness. This year, it will be housed for the third time at the idyllic and expansive Maymont, a 100 acre non profit garden and museum. Beer, wine, and food are available for purchase and other merchandise is available for sale. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Maymont Foundation, the Richmond Jazz Society and educational opportunities through the Richmond City Public Schools.