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Richmond Festival Guide For May 2017: Friday Cheers, Arts In The Park, ¿Qué Pasa? Festival and more

Spring and summer festival season is ramping up in a big way in May. There are so many ways to get outside and enjoy our beautiful city this month from Friday Cheers, and Dominion Riverrock to the Lebanese Food Festival and Strawberry Street Festival. Here are our top picks.



There’s so much going on in RVA in the spring and summer months it’s hard to know where to go and what to do. But that’s what we’re here for! Here are our top outdoor festival picks for the month of May.

Friday Cheers

Photo: Venture Richmond

Richmond’s longest-running outdoor concert series, Friday Cheers, returns to Brown’s Island on Friday, May 5th with a stellar lineup of artists including Conor Oberst, People’s Blues of Richmond, Car Seat Headrest, and more. You’ll see breakout bands, national acts, and RVA’s own home-grown talent.

When: Fridays May 5th – June 30th; times vary | Where: Brown’s Island on the riverfront downtown | Cost: Varies; all shows $5-10 | More info: Season preview article

Arts In The Park

Photo: Studio Eriksdotter

Artists, craftspeople, and makers of all kinds from all over the Eastern Seaboard come together each year for one of the biggest art shows in the country, held in Byrd Park. You’ll find handmade pottery, jewelry, paintings, photography, plants, and much more in a beautiful setting. A free shuttle whisks guests from City Stadium to the park and back.

When: Saturday, May 6th – Sunday, May 7th; times vary | Where: Byrd Park near The Carillon | Cost: FREE to enter | More info: Event website

¿Qué Pasa? Festival

Photo: Joe Kutchera

The annual ¿Qué Pasa? Festival highlights the food, music, and art of Virginia’s Latin American communities. Enjoy lots of live entertainment and dancing, authentic cuisine from some of the area’s best restaurants, handmade crafts, jewelry, and housewares from a variety of vendors, and more–all along the picturesque Canal Walk downtown.

When: Saturday, May 6th; 11:00 AM – 8:30 PM | Where: The Canal Walk downtown near the riverfront | Cost: FREE to enter; pay as you go for food and drinks | More info: Event website

RVA East End Festival

Photo: RPS Education Foundation

The RVA East End Festival theme for 2017 is “The Gift of Arts and Music,” and it’s a name that rings true. The festival is a community celebration highlighting the diverse neighborhoods and unique quality of Richmond’s East End. Enjoy performances by the Richmond Symphony and many others during the two-day neighborhood festival devoted to the arts. Other activities will include a variety of performances by local artists and schools, a kids activities, food trucks, a beer garden, and vendor booths. Lawn chairs are welcomed and encouraged. All proceeds benefit local schools’ arts and music programs.

When: Friday, May 5th; 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Saturday, May 6th; noon – 8:00 PM | Where: Chimborozo Park, 3200 E. Broad Street in the East End | More info: Event website

Strawberry Street Festival

Photo: Taffs America

The 38th annual Strawberry Street Festival takes place at William Fox Elementary School in the heart of The Fan on May 13th. This fun-filled event needs the support of the entire school. The proceeds fund many curriculum enhancements not funded by Richmond Public Schools. Expect family-oriented games, rides, a silent auction, lots of food, vendors, and a strawberry sale.

When: Saturday, May 13th; noon – 4:30 PM | Where: William Fox Elementary School, 2300 Hanover Avenue in The Fan | Cost: FREE to enter; pay for activities as you go | More info: Event website

Dominion Riverrock

File photo/Trevor Dickerson

The nation’s largest annual outdoor sports and music festival is right here in Richmond–Dominion Riverrock. The festival, organized by Sports Backers and Venture Richmond, celebrates the great outdoors and the mighty James on Brown’s Island. There’s tons of live music including a headlining performance by The Hardworking Americans and The SteelDrivers. Plus, participate in bouldering, kayaking, a mud-laiden 5K, a slack lining competition, a BMX course, and the ever-popular Air Dog competition where pups of all shapes and sizes compete to see who can jump the farthest off of a raised platform into the pool.

When: Friday, May 19th – Sunday, May 21st; times vary | Where: Brown’s Island on the downtown riverfront | Cost: FREE to enter | More info: Event website

Lebanese Food Festival

File photo/Trevor Dickerson

Arguably one of the best annual food festivals in Richmond, the Lebanese Food Festival returns May 19th – 21st where you can enjoy a bevy of authentic Lebanese treats including baked kibbee, beef, lamb, and chicken kebabs, meat, cheese, and spinach pies, shawarma, zalabia, and so much more along with imported wines and beers. There will also be plenty of live music and traditional dancing on the festival stage.

When: Friday, May 19th and Saturday, May 20th; 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Sunday, May 21st; 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM | Where: St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church, 4611 Sadler Road near Short Pump | Cost: FREE to enter; pay as you go for food and drinks | More info: Event website



Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs arriving in Richmond for area’s largest drive-thru exhibit

The Richmond Raceway Complex will come to life starting Friday, September 24 with over 55 static and animatronic dinosaurs, fossils and 26 different species, as part of the Jurassic Encounter.



The Richmond Raceway Complex will come to life starting Friday, September 24 with over 55 static and animatronic dinosaurs, fossils and 26 different species, as part of the Jurassic Encounter. This life-sized dinosaur drive-thru exhibit is the largest to hit the area in 2021 and brings a new attraction that is a blend of entertainment and education suited for all ages.

The Richmond Raceway Complex will be transformed into a prehistoric setting with dinosaurs and fossils of all sizes, a paleontological camp, and even an erupting volcano.

The Jurassic Encounter kicks off Friday, September 24, and runs through Sunday, October 10. The event is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Hours are as follows:

  • Friday and Saturday 9am-9pm (Friday 9/24 opens at Noon)
  • Sunday 9am-7pm
  • Wednesday and Thursday 1pm-7pm
  • Closed Monday and Tuesday

Guests remain in their vehicle for the duration of the tour and are able to visit the “Dino Village” at the end to browse gifts and souvenirs.  The tour is complemented by a free audio narration which is written with a focus on education and humor for all ages.

Timed tickets must be purchased in advance online and are priced per vehicle. There is the option to add on Dino Packs that include crafts and dinosaur-theme souvenir surprises.  More information can be found at



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Arts & Entertainment

Richmond Folk Festival Announces More Artists

Richmond Folk Festival has nine new artists for you to check out as we wait, with fingers crossed for the return of Folk Fest.



The Richmond Folk Festival celebrates its 17th anniversary October 8-10, 2021 inviting fans to downtown Richmond’s riverfront to celebrate the roots, richness, and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional crafts, storytelling, and food.

The free, three-day, outdoor event is presented by Venture Richmond Events in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, the Children’s Museum, and the City of Richmond.

Featuring six stages and showcasing music and dance from more than 30 artists from around the nation and the world, the Richmond Folk Festival today announces a second group of artists performing at this year’s festival—a program that will again be culturally diverse and artistically excellent, with some of the finest traditional artists performing throughout the weekend.

“We are proud to be back this year on Richmond’s beautiful downtown riverfront,” said Blaine Waide, associate director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. “From returning favorites to up-and-coming artists making their Richmond debut to traditions like Sicilian traditional music
that we have never presented before, this year’s program lives up to the festival’s reputation for offering a dizzying variety of artistic expressions and experiences—all for free!”

Venture Richmond Events continues to closely monitor CDC and Virginia guidelines for COVID-19 protocols for large outdoor events. A commitment to safety and adherence to local, state, and federal ordinances and recommendations will guide all decisions regarding the festival.(see COVID-19 guidelines)

The nine newly announced artists to be featured at the 2021 Richmond Folk Festival include:

The Brotherhood Singers (African American a cappella gospel quartet singing)
Covington, Kentucky

Donny Broussard & the Louisiana Stars (Cajun)
Kaplan, Louisiana

Jasmine Bell & North Bear (Lakota hoop dance and Northern Plains drum)
Riverton, Wyoming

The Pedro Giraudo Tango Ensemble (Argentine tango)
New York, New York

Rosa Tatuata with Michela Musolino (Sicilian traditional music)
Clifton, New Jersey

Sugaray Rayford (blues)
Los Angeles, California

Taj Weekes (reggae)
St. Lucia by way of New York, New York

Tres en Punto (trío romántico)
Mission, Texas

The Western Flyers (western swing)
Burleson, Texas

The festival’s previously announced artists include:

Joanie Madden & Cherish the Ladies (Irish)
Yonkers, New York

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper (bluegrass)
Charlestown, Indiana

Nava Persian Trio (Persian santour)
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Plena Es (bomba y plena)
Sunrise, Florida

Rare Essence (go-go)
Washington, D.C.

Sean Jones “Dizzy Spellz” feat. Brinae Ali (jazz, hip hop, and tap dance)
Baltimore, Maryland

Click here for extended artist bios, plus audio and video samples on our website.

Encore Performances on VPM

Every Saturday at 5:00pm, catch VPM broadcasts of favorite performances from the past 13 years of the Richmond Folk Festival, as well as the three years the city hosted the National Folk Festival (2005-07). Tune in to Richmond public radio VPM stations 107.3 FM & 93.1 FM for great musical memories. Add these shows to your calendar today:

Aug 28 Dale Ann Bradley
Sep 4 Lurie Bell, Andes Manta
Sept 11 Amargue Bachata Quintet with Andre Veloz
Sept 18 Ahava Raba with Yanky Lemmer
Sept 25 Sona Jobarteh
Oct 2 Maggie Ingram, Frank Newsome, The Paschall Brothers, Clinton Fearon

Interactive Scavenger Hunt

From now through Labor Day weekend, the Richmond Folk Festival is offering an interactive scavenger hunt. It takes about an hour or two to complete, and there are two routes from which to choose. The scavenger hunt presents opportunities to notice often-missed public art, learn about history and different cultures, and listen to relevant musical links along the way. Like the festival, both routes include hills, steps, and uneven ground. Those who successfully complete the festival’s scavenger hunt will be entered in drawings for prizes, with winners selected all summer long! The scavenger hunt runs through September 7.

For all details, please visit our website:

More information on the festival and additional artists performing this year will follow soon. For
updates, visit #RVAFolkFest

To make a donation to the Richmond Folk Festival today, Text to Give! Text FOLK to 44321.

The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond Events, in partnership with the
National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, the Children’s
Museum, and the City of Richmond.

The Richmond Folk Festival is sponsored by Altria, Dominion Energy, CoStar Group, CarMax,
NewMarket Corp., City of Richmond, WestRock, Brown Distributing, Community Foundation,
Amtrak, LIDL, Virginia Lottery, Atlantic Union Bank, NBC12 & CW Richmond, VPM,
SummitMedia, Hilton Downtown Richmond, ONE Casino + Resort, American Civil War Museum,
National Park Service, Virginia Humanities, JAMinc., Plan 9 Music, RMC Events, PD Brooks,
SmartBox, Virginia Housing, Wells Fargo, Winn Transportation, House of Hayes, TNT Auto
Rental, Federal Reserve Bank, and Virginia War Memorial



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First-ever ‘Sports Backers Fitness Festival’ announced for September 18 in Chimborazo Park

The free festival will feature fitness stations, exercise demos, and local vendors.



The first-ever Sports Backers Fitness Festival takes place on Saturday, September 18, Sports Backers announced today. The festival promotes the fitness and outdoor activity opportunities available in Richmond and runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Chimborazo Park at 3215 E. Broad Street. Participation in the Fitness Festival is free, but attendees are asked to register beforehand.

The free festival features classes and demos led by members of Sports Backers’ Fitness Warriors program. The community health initiative trains area residents who have talent, passion, and potential to be professional fitness instructors for Richmond’s communities with the highest rates of chronic disease. Fitness Warriors currently lead free classes six days a week throughout the Richmond region, both in person and virtually, and the classes are geared towards all levels of fitness.

Fitness Warriors will lead sessions during the Fitness Festival in a celebration of active living and to help encourage participants to make physical activity a daily habit. A variety of activities and modalities are available throughout the day, including yoga, Pilates, Zumba, resistance bands, and high intensity interval training. The festival also features local health and fitness vendors to help guide participants on their active living journey. A vendor application is available at

”The Sports Backers Fitness Festival brings together many of our region’s most enthusiastic and passionate fitness leaders for a day of high-energy fun,” said Tiffany Copeland, Director of Fitness Warriors for Sports Backers. “At Sports Backers, our mission is to inspire people from all corners of our community to live actively. The festival supports this mission by encouraging attendees to sample a wide variety of activities and learn innovative ways to add active living into their lifestyle on a daily basis.”

Sports Backers is partnering with several corporate and nonprofit sponsors, including the RVA Community Development Corp., to deliver the inaugural Fitness Festival. These partnerships build connections with a wide range of community members and share the message of the importance of active living.

“We’re excited to help sponsor this event because Fitness Warriors reflects our values of economic empowerment and community-based leadership,” said Elaine Summerfield, Board President of the RVA Community Development Corp., a nonprofit that is working to support and sustain community assets and economic opportunity, with a particular focus on Richmond’s East End.

Additional supporters of the Sports Backers Fitness Festival include Markel, Mutual Assurance of Virginia, and the Market @ 25th. More details on the Sports Backers Fitness Festival are available at



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