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Weekend Event Picks: First Fridays, Midtown State Fair, Dragon Boat Festival and more

From dragon boat races and culinary demonstrations to live theater and art exhibitions, there’s something going on for most anyone this weekend.

Trevor Dickerson



First Fridays Art Walk

The August edition of the popular year-round event takes place tonight in the city’s Arts District. There’s always something new to see and do. Highlights this week at galleries around he district include:

  • “River,” an oil on panel exhibition inspired by kayaking in the James and Rivanna Rivers in Central Virginia by Palmyra artist Linda Staiger at the Richmond Public Library’s Main Branch;
  • An exhibit at the Depot Gallery entitled “Text Me” demonstrating how 18 young artists shape identities and self-image through language-based artwork. The persona adopted or projected by each maker is constructed through the implicit dialogue between the artist, artwork, and viewer. This ongoing conversation is dynamic and malleable, open to interpretation by all participants and observers;
  • Elegba Folklore Society’s exhibit, “The Flag Series”, by artist Sukenya Best. Starting from international flags, Best then manipulated the images through a series of print techniques; and
  • Faces of RVA,” an exhibition of mixed media portraits, spotlights ART 180’s most recent projects in creative expression. Led by Noah Scalin and assisted by Shelia M. Gray, ART 180’s Teen Leadership Council considered a new perspective on their hometown by exploring portraits of its people. Teens worked with historical images of African Americans from the collection of The Valentine, and many of the source photos feature Richmonders about whom little or nothing is known. The young artists created stories about these unknown residents that provided context for who they may have been.

When: Friday, August 5th; 5:00 – 9:00 PM (times may vary by venue) | Where: Richmond Arts District; West Broad Street and surrounding areas, roughly from Belvidere to Brook Road  | Cost: FREE to attend | Event website

“Short, Fast & Furious” at the Coalition Theater

The Coalition Theater’s newest eight-week Friday night run, “Short, Fast & Furious,” brings together an all-star cast of improvisers for a night of hilarious, interactive improv games filled with audience participation. If you like whose “Whose Line Is It Anyway?,” you’ll love this show. The show stars local talent Jeff Clevenger, Dee Demetriades, Betzi Hekman, Casey Neeley Jonathan Nelson, David Pijor, Eve Privman, Kolt Risser, Dave Robbins, Robert Sobecke, Adam Stackhouse, Donna Steele, and Alan Vollmer.

When: Friday, August 5th; 8:00 PM | Where: The Coalition Theater, 8 W. Broad Street in the Arts District  | Cost: $10.00 | Purchase tickets online

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

Midtown State Fair

The intersection of local food and craft beer will be Libbie Mill in the Near West End this Sunday. A free kickoff event to the annual culinary celebration that is Fire, Flour & Fork, the Midtown State Fair will feature old-fashioned cake and kale walks, farmer cook-offs, heirloom tomato tastings, music from The Featles, salsa and square dancing, culinary spelling bees, and much more. Local craft beer and food from Rappahannock River Oysters, Boka Tako, Mean Bird, Mama J’s, Gelati Celesti, and Sugar Soiree will be available for purchase. The fun kicks off at 11:00 AM. Attendees will also receive a special discount on tickets to Fire, Flour & Fork talks and demonstrations.

When: Sunday, August 7th; 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM | Where: Libbie Mill development, Libbie Mill E. Boulevard off Staples Mill Road | Cost: FREE to attend | Event website

“Mr. Burns” at TheatreLAB

“What will endure when the cataclysm arrives- when the grid fails, society crumbles, and we’re faced with the task of rebuilding?” That’s the question this post-apocalyptic play centered around the “cape Feare” episode of everyone’s favorite adult cartoon “The Simpsons.”

After the collapse of civilization, a group of survivors share a campfire and begin to piece together the plot of the episode ntirely from memory. Seven years later, this and other snippets of pop culture (sitcom plots, commercials, jingles, and pop songs) have become the live entertainment of society, sincerely trying to hold onto its past. 75 years later, these are the myths and legends from which new forms of performance are created. A love letter to the power of live theatre, and the resilience of Bart Simpson through the ages, Mr. Burns is an animated exploration of how the pop culture of one era might evolve into the mythology of another.

This show, under the direction of Deejay Gray, will have audience members feeling as though they’re part of the performance in this small, intimate basement venue.

When: Nightly performances through August 13th | Where: TheatreLAB, 300 E. Broad Street in Downtown Richmond | Cost: Adults $30.00; group, senior, and teacher tickets $20.00; students $10.00. | Purchase tickets online

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