RICHMOND, Va. – On an unusually warm February day people swarmed the new T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge. Visiting guests commented on the hundreds of people snapping pictures, walking dogs and leisurely shuffling along the riverfront. The crowds that day came as a surprise, but this weekend they won’t be, not with the return of the popular Richmond Folk Festival. By the way, this year south of the river festival goers have the chance to stroll in via the T. Pot bridge.
Richmond Folk Festival has become the city’s signature fall event; last year more than 125,000 people followed the sound of music down to the riverfront. Over three, free days, more than 30 performing groups will entertain from seven live music stages. There will be continuous music and dance performances, a Virginia Folklife demonstration area, children's activities, a folk arts marketplace, regional and ethnic foods and more. And you can wash it all down with a FestivALE, the signature beer brewed by Champion.
The 13th year of the event kicks off on Friday the 13th, a sign of good luck, organizers said. If big crowds aren’t your thing, shoot for Friday night or first thing Sunday.
WHAT TO EXPERIENCE
On Friday, between four stages you have a choice of Cajun, bluegrass, Irish, blues, swing, jazz, and brass band performances – along with zydeco dance lessons.
Rising Afro-Venezuelan star Betsayda Machado is on her first international tour and at 8 p.m. performs on the Community Foundation Stage. NPR reviewer Anastasia Tsioulcas wrote of Machado’s performance as “one of the most joyful shows I’ve heard in years.”
On Saturday there are over 50 performances (some repeats) to enjoy, ranging from Northern Neck Chantey Singers to Japanese taiko drumming to blue grass and go-go music. A new competition is bringing musicians from around the world to Richmond to compete in the “Scott Street Five-String Finals,” a banjo contest. At 6 p.m. local Americana musician Sherman Holmes will be performing songs from his new album “The Richmond Sessions,” which brings the listener everything from R&B to country to blues to gospel.
Sunday looks to be the sunniest day of the festival, and there are over 40 performances from which to choose. Richmonder Angelica Garcia, whose album “Medicine for Birds” was well-reviewed by the New York Times, performs at noon. Don’t miss Kentucky-born and five-time International Bluegrass Music Association’s female vocalist of the year Dale Ann Bradley, who has a noon performance “Troubadour Tales: Songs of Trial & Triumph.”
Closing out the event is Richmond gospel from The Legendary Ingramettes.
It's not all about music; make sure to get a taste of the folk life for a full sensory experience. On Saturday at 2:15 Chris Brooks of Croaker’s Spot hosting a cooking demonstration of his southern soul chicken. On Sunday at 1:30 p.m., Tina Ingram-Murphy is serving up a soul supper with the Legendary Ingramettes. But there are many more cooking demonstrations throughout the three-days.
CHANGES THIS YEAR
Be prepared for a couple of changes. First off, construction around the American Civil War Museum has closed parts of the event.
That means the staircase located on the Tredegar Area “blue stone” -- directly behind the iconic cannon will be closed, but the stairs and elevator near the National Park Service building will still be available – though use is limited to those with strollers and mobility needs.
Hey, it’s only for one year, so grin and bear it.
The Community Foundation Stage has moved from behind the National Park Service Visitor Center, up to the field just behind the large white headquarters of NewMarket Corp., on 2nd Street. The river views are going to be great from there. Beer, wine, and food sales will be set up in the field beside 2nd Street.
Another thing you can count on changing – the official event poster, designed this year by Richmond-artist Chris Milk Hulburt. His colorful design highlighted the performers with hand-drawn letters overlaid onto his painted piece.
PARKING, MAPS AND HOURS
Take note of these changes and download this nifty map to help you get around.
Click for the official Folk Festival schedule.
Click for the list of vendors and their location.
Click here for our handy parking map, also embedded below. However, if you are want to spend more time enjoying the event than you do driving and parking, just head over to the City Stadium and hop on a free shuttle. They leave every 15 minutes. That hotline number is 804-358-4782.
If you take a taxi in, the easiest drop off point is 320 S. 7th Street. There is bike parking near 2nd and Byrd Street, but it is unattended so bring a lock.
EVENT HOURS AND SCHEDULE
Friday, Oct. 13, 6- 10 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 14, Noon – 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 15, Noon – 6:00 p.m.