The Richmond Folk Festival returns Friday-Sunday, October 13-15, celebrating its 19th anniversary, having become one of Virginia’s largest and most beloved events. The festival draws attendees each year 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 event hosts 200,000 people over the weekend and is produced by Venture Richmond Events in partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities, the Center for Cultural Vibrancy, Children’s Museum, and the City of Richmond.
Featuring six stages and showcasing music and dance from more than 30 performing groups from around Virginia, the nation and the world, the Richmond Folk Festival today announces the full performance schedule including the Virginia Folklife Area and Stage and the Family Area. Once again featuring a new artistic program and the nation’s finest traditional artists, this year’s festival offers something for everyone.
Full Performance Schedule
Virginia Folklife Area and Stage
Experience the crafts, music, and culture of Bristol and beyond in the Virginia Folklife Area of the 2023 Richmond Folk Festival! Designated by the US Congress as the “birthplace of country music” in recognition of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, during which The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and others were recorded for the first time, artists and communities in and around Bristol are transforming regional Appalachian traditions for 2023 and beyond.
The Virginia Folklife Area will include Appalachian Traditions, a demonstration tent with artists and cultural organizations from the greater Bristol region. Demonstrations in broom and toy making, weaving, basketry, and more will be offered, and displays include a pop-up cast iron museum and a rear-engine dragster race car.
The Center for Cultural Vibrancy Stage at the Virginia Folklife Area will honor Bristol’s musical past and present by showcasing some of the most accomplished and exciting emerging artists from the city and surrounding region. Experience a live recording of Farm and Fun Time®, a vintage-style radio show presented by the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, hosted by Kris Truelson and his band, Bill and the Belles, and featuring Southwest Virginia natives Linda Lay, Elizabeth LaPrelle and Elsa Howell. The “New Sounds of Bristol Showcase” presents six artists from in and around Bristol who are shaping its sound today and spanning musical genres from old-time to hip-hop.
The Virginia Folklife Area is a partnership between the Virginia Folklife Program of Virginia Humanities and the Center for Cultural Vibrancy.
Family Area, Produced by the Children’s Museum
Blast off to an out-of-this-world experience as the Children’s Museum features Space Exploration at this year’s Folk Festival. Create your own Space-themed iconic bag hat or search for unknown Space objects at the educational station. Pick up moon rocks or run and jump and play with our friends from Soccer Shots or enjoy making music with our friends from City Singers. Maybe you are looking for a quieter spot; you can play with your friends in the Autism Society Central Virginia sensory zone. Also enjoy lots of fun activities with the National Park Service, including a Junior Ranger Swearing-In and a station where 4th graders can print a free Every Kid Outdoors park pass. No matter how you like to play, there is something for everyone at this year’s Family Area!
The Family Area is again in its new location just up the hill from its former home, now located in the grassy field at 2nd Street and Brown’s Island Way.
Richmond Folk Festival in Schools
Returning after a hiatus of several years, the Richmond Folk Festival once again fills auditoriums and classrooms at Richmond-area schools with performances and presentations of deeply rooted cultural expressions shared by some of the country’s finest traditional artists. These programs not only expose children to performances by excellent artists; they also provide them with opportunities to learn about new cultures, communities, and artistic traditions, expanding their horizons with interactive, multicultural learning experiences. Often these outreach programs reach students who have limited access to cultural enrichment opportunities.
This year, the festival will also launch a new collaboration, as Chicago-based blues musician Melody Angel visits the State Farm Correctional Center, where she will perform and share a musical collaboration with the inmates there.
These programs are made possible through the generous support of the festival’s sponsors, especially its school shows partner, JAMinc, who provides transportation, audio support and local on-site coordination.
2023 participating performers*:
- Genticorum (Québécois)
- Grupo Mono Blanco (son jarocho)
- Helobung (traditional Tboli music and dance)
- Kala Ramnath (Hindustani violin)
- Melody Angel (Chicago blues)
- Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas (zydeco)
- Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights (quelbe music)
- Albert Hill Middle School
- Francis W. McClenney Elementary School
- Henry Marsh Elementary School
- Miles Jones Elementary School
- River City Middle School
- Virgie Binford Education Center
- Westover Hills Elementary School
- William Fox Elementary School
- Woodville Elementary School
*Artists and schools are subject to change.
The Richmond Folk Festival Needs YOU!
The Richmond Folk Festival offers a variety of exciting volunteer opportunities. With over 800 volunteers each year, we can’t do it without you! The festival is a wonderful place for civic, school, church and office organizations to volunteer or sign up with your best friend to spend a day together at the festival! In 2022, Style Weekly recognized the Richmond Folk Festival’s volunteers as “Richmonders of the Year!”
Benefits of being a festival volunteer include a free t-shirt, free parking and discounts on festival merchandise.
Friday, October 13 — 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Saturday, October 14 — 12:00pm – 9:30pm
Sunday, October 15 — 12:00pm – 6:00pm
For more information about the Richmond Folk Festival, visit RichmondFolkFestival.org.
#RVAFolkFest – Text to Give! Text FOLK to 44321
The Richmond Folk Festival is sponsored by: Altria, Dominion Energy, CoStar Group, CarMax, Pauley Family Foundation, NewMarket Corp., City of Richmond, Brown Distributing, Community Foundation, Atlantic Union Bank, WNRN, Richmond Times-Dispatch, SummitMedia, NBC12, National Endowment for the Arts, National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), National Treasures: A Program of the NCTA, Clean Virginia, Amtrak, Virginia Humanities, Center for Cultural Vibrancy, Children’s Museum, University of Richmond, Fralin Pickup, American Civil War Museum, National Park Service, VPM, JAMinc., Plan 9 Music, RMC Events, Virginia Housing, House of Hayes, TNT Auto Rental, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Virginia War Memorial.
About the Richmond Folk Festival
The Richmond Folk Festival is one of Virginia’s largest events, drawing visitors from all over the country to downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront. The festival is a FREE three-day event that got its start when Richmond hosted the National Council for the Traditional Arts’ National Folk Festival, held in Richmond from 2005-2007. In the tradition of “The National,” the Richmond Folk Festival features excellent performing groups representing a diverse array of cultural traditions on seven stages. The festival includes continuous music and dance performances, a Virginia Folklife Area featuring ongoing demonstrations, an interactive Family Area produced by the Children’s Museum, a folk-art marketplace, regional and ethnic foods, festival merchandise and more. Additional information is available at www.richmondfolkfestival.org.
About Venture Richmond
Venture Richmond, Inc., is a non-profit organization formed to engage business and community leaders in partnering with the City to enhance the vitality of the community, particularly Downtown, through economic development, marketing, promotion, advocacy and events. Venture Richmond provides enhanced property management services for both the Downtown and Riverfront, including a portion of Manchester. Services provided include the Clean & Safe program, beautification and landscaping projects and management and maintenance of Brown’s Island, the Canal Walk and Belle Isle parking lot.
Venture Richmond Events, LLC, produces Friday Cheers, the 2nd Street Festival, the Richmond Folk Festival, and partners with Sports Backers to produce Dominion Energy Riverrock.
Riverfront Canal Cruises, LLC, operates historically narrated boat tours and private charters of the James River and Kanawha Canal.
Both Venture Richmond Events, LLC, and Riverfront Canal Cruises, LLC, are subsidiaries of Venture Richmond, Inc. For more information visit www.venturerichmond.com.
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