The Richmond Folk Festival will celebrate its 15th anniversary along the city’s historic downtown riverfront the weekend of October 11-13, 2019. The region’s favorite music event today announced the first 10 artists of what will once again be a culturally diverse program of music and dance traditions, from Tuareg guitar to Cajun.
Since Venture Richmond Events first partnered with the National Council for the Traditional Arts to bring the National Folk Festival to Richmond in 2005, the festival has continued to grow in popularity. It has become one of Virginia’s largest festivals, drawing upwards of 210,000 fans each year to enjoy a wide variety of music, crafts, dance, and foodways traditions.
“There was a time when many people questioned whether such a large-scale, free festival like this could be successful in Richmond for the long term,” said Lisa Sims, Venture Richmond Executive Director. “But our community has nurtured this event in ways that even the most optimistic of us couldn’t have predicted 15 years ago. There’s no end to our gratitude for the sponsors, contributors, and volunteers who make the festival happen year in and year out, rain or shine. The dedication of so many is stunning.”
The free, three-day event features seven stages showcasing music and dance from more than 40 artists from around the world. This includes the Richmond Times-Dispatch Virginia Folklife Area, which celebrates regional traditions; the ever-popular CarMax Family Area, produced by the Children’s Museum of Richmond, with activities and participatory performances for the young and young at heart; and a bustling crafts marketplace.
Artists to be featured at the 2019 Richmond Folk Festival include:
- BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet (Cajun) – Lafayette, Louisiana
- Bombino (Tuareg guitar) – Agadez, Niger
- Dale Watson (honky-tonk and country) – Austin, Texas
- The Garifuna Collective (Garifuna) – Dangriga, Belize
- Huun-Huur-Tu (Tuvan throat-singing) – Republic of Tuva (Russian Federation)
- Iberi Choir (Georgian polyphonic singing) – Tbilisi, Georgia
- Kevin Doyle & Friends (Irish step dance and music) – Barrington, Rhode Island
- Lonesome River Band (bluegrass) – Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee
- Panfilo’s Güera (Tejano conjunto fiddle) – San Antonio, Texas
- Super Chikan (Delta blues) – Clarksdale, Mississippi
The Richmond Folk Festival costs roughly $1.5 million to produce each year and is largely supported by corporate sponsorships, private donations, and volunteer hours. Approximately 1,300 volunteers are needed during the weeks leading up to and during the festival weekend. Fans of the Richmond Folk Festival are strongly encouraged to apply, and this year, those who volunteer in groups of four or more will be rewarded with signature Richmond Folk Festival items and accessories. Information about job descriptions and registration can be found on the festival’s volunteer page.
“We are grateful to Richmond for embracing the festival all those years ago,” said Stephen Lecky, Venture Richmond Festival Director. “Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and the tireless efforts of our longtime volunteers, it has grown into a beloved tradition that represents the very best in us as a community.”
More artist announcements and additional details about the Richmond Folk Festival will be released throughout the summer. Folk Fest Insider subscribers will be among the first to receive updates and breaking news about the festival.
“We have some very special things planned in conjunction with our 15th year,” Lecky said. “This year’s Folk Fest is poised to be the best one yet.”
The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond Events, LLC, in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts. Other producing partners include the City of Richmond, the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities, and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.
View photos, videos, and audio samples from the thus far-announced performers here.
Bills advance to expand in-state tuition regardless of citizenship status
The state Senate and the House have advanced bills to make students living in the U.S. without documentation eligible for in-state tuition.
The state Senate and the House have advanced bills to make students living in the U.S. without documentation eligible for in-state tuition.
SB 935, introduced by Democratic Sens. Jennifer Boysko and Ghazala Hashmi, would require a student to provide proof of filed taxes to be eligible for in-state tuition. A student also must have attended high school in Virginia for at least two years, been homeschooled in the state or have passed a high school equivalency exam prior to enrolling in a college. The bill reported out of the House appropriations committee Wednesday and heads to the floor for a vote.
Submitting income tax returns would be a challenge for students straight out of high school who have not worked or filed taxes before, according to Jorge Figueredo, executive director of Edu-Futuro, a nonprofit that seeks to empower immigrant youth and their families.
HB 1547, introduced by Del. Alfonso Lopez, applies the same provisions as SB 935, except the requirement to file proof of filed taxes. The bill is currently in the Senate Health and Education committee.
Immigrant rights advocates have openly supported these two bills. Figueredo said he is “thrilled” to see the bill advance.
“This is something that makes a lot of sense. It’s something where we don’t want to have a group of people to get to a point that they cannot reach their highest potential,” Figueredo said.
Attorney General Mark Herring announced in 2014 that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students would be eligible for in-state tuition. He said Maryland saw an increase in graduation rates after allowing students without documentation to access in-state tuition rates. Maryland officials believe this led less students to drop out of high school because they saw realistic options for continuing education, according to Herring.
There is uncertainty about the future of the DACA program. A study by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis stated that uncertainty creates a risk for students enrolled in Virginia colleges and universities, who fear they could lose DACA status and access to in-state tuition rates. The institute, which studies issues affecting low-to-moderate income residents, recommended that lawmakers could mitigate the potential impact of that loss by expanding in-state tuition access to Virginia residents regardless of immigration status. The institute said that by doing so the state would also provide more affordable access to colleges for residents whose immigration status does not otherwise fall into the categories currently required for in-state tuition.
Figueredo said that allowing these students to apply for in-state tuition would create more opportunities for undocumented students to become professionals, something that would benefit all of Virginia.
High school graduates in Virginia earn about $35,000 on average compared to people with a bachelor’s degree who earn about $65,000 a year, according to The Commonwealth Institute.
“A person that has a higher level of education in comparison to a person that has only a high school diploma, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars that are not captured in the form of taxes, so that’s a direct benefit right there,” Figueredo said.
Katherine Amaya is a freshman at Northern Virginia Community College. Her family emigrated from El Salvador when she was 8 years old. Amaya said she pays out-of-state tuition rates as an undocumented student, about $6,000 per semester, compared to classmates who pay about $2,000 for in-state tuition per semester.
Amaya said she was on the honor roll throughout high school and her first semester in college. She said she was able to apply for scholarships for undocumented students but it was a competitive process. She was awarded a few scholarships and said she was able to use that money for her first semester of college but is afraid she won’t get as much help in the future.
Amaya said she had many friends in high school that were also having a hard time paying for college or university because they were also undocumented and did not qualify for in-state tuition.
“A lot of them, they couldn’t even afford going to community college, so they just dropped out and started working,” Amaya said. “It’s sad, you know, that they don’t have the money or the help to keep going to school.”
Bill banning handheld cellphone use while driving clears House, Senate
The state Senate voted Tuesday in favor of a bill that would prohibit holding a personal communications device while driving a motor vehicle.
By Andrew Ringle
The state Senate voted Tuesday in favor of a bill that would prohibit holding a phone while driving a motor vehicle on Virginia roadways and which implements a penalty for the traffic violation.
House Bill 874 will head to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam, who has voiced support for prohibiting the use of handheld cellphones while driving. The measure, sponsored by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, would go into effect at the start of 2021.
“I’m happy that HB874 passed 29-9 in the Senate,” Bourne said in an email. “HB874 will make our roadways safer for all Virginians by prohibiting drivers from holding a cell phone while driving a motor vehicle.”
The House of Delegates approved the bill Feb. 5 with a 72-24 vote after incorporating four bills with similar proposals. Violations of the measures in HB 874 would result in a fine of $125 for the first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses. If a violation occurs in a highway work zone, there would be a mandatory fee of $250.
Bourne said the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, of which he is a member, supports making Virginia roadways safer without risking “disparate application of law.”
“We were happy to work with Drive Smart Virginia to improve the legislation to ensure that the new law is applied fairly and equitably,” Bourne said.
Hands-free driving garners bicameral and bipartisan support, according to Brantley Tyndall, director of outreach for Bike Walk RVA. He said the defeat of previous bills with similar measures in past years was deflating, but that Bourne’s latest proposal reworked the language to make it successful.
“Bike Walk RVA is happy to see leadership from our area, namely chief patron Delegate Jeff Bourne, choosing to lead this issue on the House side with his bill HB 874,” Tyndall said in an email.
Tyndall called Bourne’s bill a “commonsense safety measure” and said he was glad to see support for the bill from old and new leadership in the General Assembly.
“We can all feel a part of saving dozens or hundreds of lives over the next few years, including the one out of every six traffic fatalities that is a person walking or biking,” Tyndall said.
Current law prohibits reading or typing messages on a personal communications device while driving. However, holding such a device is legal, except while driving in a work zone.
The bill would not apply to emergency vehicle drivers, such as police officers and firefighters, nor employees of the Department of Transportation while performing official duties. It would also exempt drivers who are parked legally or at a full stop.
Last fall, Richmond City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to ban using mobile devices while driving. With a signature from Northam, HB 874 would make the same policy statewide law.
Senate Bill 932 proposed adding school zones to the list of areas where holding a phone while driving is prohibited, which is more limited than HB 874’s proposal. SB 932 failed to advance from a House subcommittee on Monday.
Richmond Police Chief Will Smith said during a press conference in January that his department supports HB 874 and that anyone with children shouldn’t be surprised by the proposal.
“One of the very first things that we all talk about with our kids is, ‘make sure that you leave your phone out of your hand and don’t text, don’t call until you get to your destination,’” Smith said. “Yet we, as an adult society, tend not to obey our own advice.”
The world is coming to Richmond for the Menuhin Competition – the “Olympics of Violin” – this May
The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world.
The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world. Richmond is set to be the host city in 2020—only the second time that the Competition has been held in the U.S.
The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 will showcase the exceptional talents of 44 competitors: 22 Juniors ages 15 and under, and 22 Seniors from ages 15-21. A record 321 candidates from 32 countries and five continents applied by the Oct. 31 deadline, and the 44 global competitors were announced in January. One of the competitors is from Virginia, Kayleigh Kim.
For 11 days in May, Richmond will be transformed into a celebratory festival of music with competitions, performances, master classes and concerts in several music genres throughout the region. Co-hosts are the Richmond Symphony, the City of Richmond, the University of Richmond, VCU and VPM.
The first round events at Camp Concert Hall at the University of Richmond are free to the public, but a ticket is required for admission and can be requested here. Semi-final rounds will be held at the W.E. Singleton Center at VCU, and final rounds will be held at the Dominion Energy Center downtown.
For more information about the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020, including dates, times, venues and tickets for all of the events, visit the website.