by Trevor Dickerson
Richmond’s sticky summer days officially end Friday. But cooler weather only means fall festival season is heating up. While the colors change, here are 10 ways to experience some of the best food, music and beverages the city has to offer -- starting now:
This roving festival, in its fourth year, invites muralists from across Richmond and the country to descend upon a new neighborhood each fall, adding a splash of color to the chosen target. Artists will transform the drab, concrete canvas of The Diamond into a work of art with colorful murals atop the rear of the stadium and on other surfaces throughout the property. Attendees also can enjoy “drone art,” interactive demonstrations, and live music. Get the colorful details here.
Virginia PrideFest is the Commonwealth’s largest celebration of the LGBTQ+ community all year, drawing crowds of more than 30,000 people to Brown’s Island. The family-friendly festival includes local food trucks, entertainment and lots of vendors. There’s even a youth area with a lip-sync karaoke competition, dance classes and aerial hula hooping. More info here.
A fall tradition unlike any other -- dating back to 1854 -- the State Fair of Virginia returns Sept. 29, bringing a host of midway rides, concerts, exhibits and all the deep fried food you can handle (defibrillator sold separately) to The Meadow Event Park in Doswell. There’s also a great concert series, including Phil Vassar, The Crooked Road and Three Sheets to the Wind. Tickets are $8-$40, depending on how you plan to spend your day. Tickets and more info here.
RVA MakerFest features some of the area’s best makers, tinkerers, inventors and their wares. But it's more than a showcase of area talent. It's also designed to inspire folks of all ages to let their imaginations run wild. You’ll see everything from hand-carved household items and 3D printing, to robotics and traditional art. This event also aims to stokes kids’ curiosity with interactive exhibits imploring them to learn to code and explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Event details here.
What’s better than some of the best barbecue in Richmond? How about some 'cue with a view? Some of the area’s tastiest barbecue purveyors such as Alamo BBQ, Buz & Ned’s, Inner City Blues and Ronnie’s BBQ will serve up the good stuff, and Ardent Craft Ales will be on hand to help attendees wash down all that delicious pork. Five area bands, including Colin & Caroline, Horsehead and The Hit List will provide the soundtrack for all that sipping and munching. Get the skinny here.
The Richmond Folk Festival draws an estimated crowd of more than 200,000 people to the Downtown Richmond's riverfront to enjoy a wide-ranging selection of music, dance and culture. Countries around the world are represented alongside the rich traditions of rural Virginia. The three-day festival is spread over half a dozen stages with performances throughout the weekend. There’s also a large marketplace featuring local and regional artisans and craftspeople, a film series, tons of craft beer, and food vendors galore. If you only make it to one festival this fall, make it this one -- you won’t regret it. See the full lineup of performers here. And watch for our Folk Festival Guide.
Since 1981, the Festival of India has shared the best of Indian cuisine, dancing, and culture with the Richmond community at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. This two day affair features some of Central Virginia’s best Indian restaurants to sample and enjoy, a festival stage with traditional song and dance, a huge selection of artisans and other vendors, and much more. All the details here.
The Kickin’ Chicken WingFest combines some of the best things about fall -- an outdoor festival, chicken wings and football! Held at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market, it’s one big tailgate party. Enjoy live music from local R&B band Roxbury Music, all the chicken wings you can eat, a huge beer truck and TV screens featuring the Redskins and 49ers game. $1 suggested donation; pay as you go for food and beer.
One of the larger area festivals, the Scott’s Addition Pumpkin Festival is the bellwether of the fall season. North Boulevard is shut down between West Broad and West Leigh streets for this annual street party featuring lots of live music, local restaurants selling pumpkin-centric food and other treats. Some of the best beer in Richmond will be on hand from the many breweries located throughout Scott’s Addition. Free to attend; pay as you go for food and beverages. Details here.
Much like the first Thanksgiving, the origin of Brunswick stew is the subject of some debate. Many people say it dates back to Brunswick County in the mid-1800s. Another claims Georgia as its heritage. No matter, the hearty stew is delicious and will be served aplenty at the Brunswick Stew & Stout Festival. Groups from moose lodges to churches, restaurants to individuals will be serving up their creations, which you can sample for $1 apiece. Once you’ve tried them all, cast a vote for the people’s choice award.
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