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August Festivals: Carytown Watermelon Festival, Richmond Jazz Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and more

Watermelons, dragon boats, food trucks, GWAR, and more–must be August in Richmond! Here our favorite festival picks to check out.

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The dog days of summer are upon us, and in typical Richmond style, there’s a unique and fun way to sweat yourself silly and enjoy all the region has to offer pretty much each and every weekend. Here are our top picks of what to see and do this August.

Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a unique experience for participants and spectators alike. Led by the beat of a drum, teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer, and steer person race 40-foot canoes adorned with traditional Chinese dragon heads and tails down the James River past Rocketts Landing. There’s plenty to see and do as a spectator. Between the canoe races, there are performances and other cultural experiences, food, drink, and more.

When: Saturday, August 6th; races held throughout the day | Where: Rocketts Landing, 5000 Old Osborne Turnpike | Cost: FREE to attend | Event website

Richmond Jazz Festival

The Richmond Jazz Festival, one of the East Coast’s premier musical events, returns to Richmond for its seventh year August 11th through the 14th. An impressive bill of nationally- and internationally-known jazz, blues, and funk acts will perform at venues around town including the Hippodrome Theater, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Hardywood, and–for the culmination of the festival–Maymont. This year’s artists include Herbie Hancock, The Roots, Al Jarreau, Michael Franks, Esperanza Spalding, Vanessa Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Diane Schuur, Grace Kelly, and Arrested Development. In addition to live jazz, the festival will also feature complimentary wine tasting by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, as well as chef demonstrations, artist meet-and-greets, and over 30 food and merchandise vendors from across the region.

When: Thursday, August 11th – Sunday, August 14th; view schedule | Where: The Hippodrome Theater, the VMFA, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, and Maymont | Cost: View available packages | Festival website

Filipino Festival

For over a decade now, the Filipino Festival has been a popular community showcase of the richness of the Filipino culture and heritage. The festival features a wide variety of traditional food, music, folk dancing, and more. The festival also serves as a cultural immersion program for more than 100 youth of Filipino descent each year. For nine months, they are immersed in bi-weekly classes that teach them their parents’ language, culture, stories, history, dances and songs to pass down to future generations.

When: Friday, August 12th 5:00 – 10:00 PM;  Saturday, August 13th 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM | Where: Our Lady of Lourdes, 8200 Woodman Road in the West End | Cost: FREE to attend | Festival website

Carytown Watermelon Festival

This annual celebration of the watermelon takes place along Richmond’s Mile of Style, Carytown. Expect a bevy of local food and retail vendors, food and drink specials at many of Carytown’s unique and vibrant restaurants, live music, and of course, plenty of cold, fresh watermelon sliced up and served by the bowl. Last year festival organizers estimate over 118,000 people attended–quite a crowd.

When: Sunday, August 14th; 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM | Where: Carytown, West Cary Street between Nansemond Street and N. Boulevard | Cost: FREE to attend | Festival website

GWAR-B-Q

Richmond’s favorite celebration of blood, gore, and metal is back for its seventh year–it’s the annual GWAR-B-Q at Hadad’s Lake. Hosted by Richmond metal band GWAR, the event will include performances from Lamb of God, Against Me!, and American Nightmare, among others. Plenty of food and retail vendors will be on site.

When: Saturday, August 20th – Sunday, August 21st; all day | Where: Hadad’s Lake, 7900 Osborne Turnpike in the East End | Cost: Ticket packages start at $60 | Festival website

Central Virginia Food Truck Rodeo

Nearly 30 Richmond-area food food trucks will once again descend upon Chesterfield Towne Center on August 28th for the Central Virginia Food Truck Rodeo. Nosh on tasty food from your favorite (or new-to-you) food trucks, enjoy live music and arts and crafts vendors, and more in the mall’s parking lot.

When: Sunday, August 28th; noon – 6:00 PM | Where: Chesterfield Towne Center, 11500 Midlothian Turnpike in Midlothian | Cost: Food priced individually by truck

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Kroger donates $250K to Feed More for new donation center

Kroger Mid-Atlantic and The Kroger Foundation are donating $250,000 to Feed More for a new donation center at the non-profit’s 1415 Rhoadmiller Street location in Richmond.

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Kroger Mid-Atlantic and The Kroger Foundation are donating $250,000 to Feed More for a new donation center at the non-profit’s 1415 Rhoadmiller Street location in Richmond.

The new space will be called the Kroger Donation Center.

“Our partnership with Feed More is so important to the Kroger team and our company commitment to Zero Hunger Zero Waste,” said Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic. “With the recent move of our Mid-Atlantic division office to Richmond, we wanted to make a sizeable gift to Feed More that would allow them to better receive, process and sort food.”

“When Kroger says ‘Zero Hunger Zero Waste’, they mean it,” remarked Jeff Wilklow, Feed More’s Chief Development Officer. “From grants to our Agency Network, to funding for our Mobile Pantry Program, and now an upgrade to our donation center, they prove time and again that they are committed partners in our fight against hunger.”

Kroger Mid-Atlantic has supported Feed More for nearly 20 years and has donated more than one million dollars to the non-profit to help end food insecurity and over 4,000,000 pounds of food to Feed More’s network of area food pantries since 2010.

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Marijuana possession and cultivation could be legal by July

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam amended legislation to accelerate the legalization of marijuana possession and home cultivation in the state to July as opposed to 2024.

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By Sam Fowler

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam amended legislation to accelerate the legalization of marijuana possession and home cultivation in the state to July as opposed to 2024.

“Virginia will become the 16th state to legalize marijuana—and these changes will ensure we do it with a focus on public safety, public health and social justice,” Northam stated in a release.

The governor proposed changes to House Bill 2312 and Senate Bill 1406, which passed earlier this year during the Virginia General Assembly’s special session. The bills legalized marijuana possession and sales by Jan. 1, 2024, but marijuana legalization advocates and Democratic lawmakers lobbied to push up the date for possession.

“This is an historic milestone for racial justice and civil rights, following years of campaigning from advocates and community groups and a strong push by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus,” the group Marijuana Justice stated in a press release.

Marijuana Justice seeks to legalize the use and possession of marijuana. The group advocates for communities most impacted by the criminalization of drugs with their “legalize it right” campaign.

The bills allow adults 21 years of age or older to legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana if they don’t intend to distribute the substance. Virginia decriminalized marijuana last year and reduced possession penalties to a $25 civil penalty and no jail time for amounts up to an ounce. In the past, possessing up to half an ounce could lead to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Individuals can cultivate up to four cannabis plants without legal repercussion, with punishments ranging from misdemeanors to jail time if over the limit. The governor’s amendments would allow households to grow up to four plants beginning July 1. The plants would need to be labeled with identification information, out of sight from public view, and out of range of people under the age of 21.

Legislators will review the governor’s proposals during the General Assembly’s reconvened session on April 7, according to Del. Kaye Kory, D-Falls Church, one of more than two dozen legislators who sponsored the House bill.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, said legalizing simple marijuana possession now rather than later is important for racial justice.

“Waiting until 2024 to legalize simple possession and therefore stop the desperate policing is allowing this continued bias enforcement against Black Virginians to continue for three years,” Wise said.

Accelerating the legislative timeline is key, Kory said.

“The figures show that it is much more common for a Black or Brown person to be charged with possession,” Kory said.

A state study released last year found that from 2010 to 2019 the average arrest rate of Black Virginians for marijuana possession was more than three times higher than that of white residents for the same crime—6.3 per 1,000 Black individuals and 1.8 per white people. This is despite the fact that Black Virginians use marijuana at similar rates as white residents. The conviction rate was also higher for Black individuals. Northam stated that people of color were still disproportionately cited for possession even after marijuana was decriminalized.

The original legislation established the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority as the regulatory structure for the manufacture and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products.

The governor’s amendments would allow the authority to revoke a company’s business license if it interfered with union organizing efforts; failed to pay a prevailing wage as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor; or classified more than 10% of employees as independent contractors.

Lawmakers grappled with the dangers of juvenile use of marijuana, Kory said, and the impact of use on developing brains.

Marijuana Justice wants to remove the delinquency charge that designates marijuana possession a crime, not a civil penalty, if committed by someone underage. The penalty is still up to $25.

“Instead of punishment, young people should be evaluated for appropriate services that address the root causes of their usage,” Marijuana Justice stated.

The amendments would fund a public awareness campaign on the health and safety risks of marijuana. The changes also would train law enforcement officers to recognize and prevent drugged driving. Northam stated that his amendments include “explicit language directing ongoing support for public health education.”

The bill established a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board tasked with providing youth mentoring programs to marginalized youth and those in foster care, as well as providing scholarships to children who have been negatively impacted by marijuana in their family or community.

The current expungement of marijuana-related crimes is set for July 1, 2025. Northam’s new amendments call for marijuana-related criminal records to be expunged and sealed “as soon as state agencies are able” and to “simplify the criteria” for when records can be sealed. This will allow individuals convicted with marijuana offenses to be resentenced, according to the new amendment.

The bills originally passed along party lines. No Republicans voted for either bill, and several Democrats in the House did not vote on either measure. Sens. Richard Stuart, R-Montross, and Jill Vogel, R-Warrenton, stated that the governor’s amendments helped assuage their original concerns.

The conservative, faith-based organization The Family Foundation told supporters Thursday to contact their representatives and urge them to vote against the accelerated timeline.

The organization stated that violent and nonviolent crime rates have increased in states that have legalized marijuana, citing an opinion piece from a police defense group.

“It’s always been about generating more tax revenue to finance the ever-expanding state bureaucracy, creating massive fortunes for those who would use marijuana (like gambling) to prey on our most vulnerable citizens, and catering to a generation increasingly void of moral standards,” stated Victoria Cobb, the foundation’s president.

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Arts & Entertainment

Library of Virginia’s Weinstein Author Series celebrates Poetry Month in April

The Library of Virginia’s 2021 Carole Weinstein Author Series celebrates April as Poetry Month with a free virtual talk by poet, literary historian, and editor Kim Roberts on April 15 at 6:00 pm.

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The Library of Virginia’s 2021 Carole Weinstein Author Series celebrates April as Poetry Month with a free virtual talk by poet, literary historian, and editor Kim Roberts on April 15 at 6:00 pm. Her book By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital uncovers great but hidden literature from lesser-known poets, including women, writers of color, LGBTQ+ writers, working-class writers, and those who were born enslaved.

The Carole Weinstein Author Series supports the literary arts by bringing both new and well-known authors to the Library of Virginia. Free and open to the public, the series focuses on Virginia authors and Virginia subjects across all genres.

2021 schedule:

April 15, 2021 (Virtual) KIM ROBERTS

By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital

June 10, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow) VANESSA M. HOLDEN

Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community

September 14, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow)  KAREN L. COX 

No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice

November 17, 2021 (In Person/Virtual as pandemic restrictions allow)  ALEXIS COE 

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

To learn more, visit the Library of Virginia website here.

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