RICHMOND, Va. – Live music, ethnic foods, vibrant art and crafts, and diversity are just a few things that describe the Richmond Folk Festival. The city’s signature fall event is returning to the River City on October 12 through 14.
Last year, more than 200,000 people descended upon the Richmond riverfront to enjoy the free, three-day event.
The 14th annual and largest festival in the region celebrates a wide range of cultural traditions through music, dance, arts and crafts, and food. The goal is to give people a chance to see something, hear something different, and taste something different, according to organizer Mavis Wynn.
With more than 30 genres of music, there will be something for everyone, which the festival prides itself on.
This year, 40 featured artists will perform on seven live music stages. You can expect to hear jazz, gospel, bluegrass, soul, rhythm and blues, salsa, reggae, and Irish. Performances will include legendary gospel, rhythm and blues singer Mavis Staples, bluegrass artist Claire Lynch, and New Orleans bounce pioneer Ricky B.
Along with live music and dance performances, there will be numerous activities on-site including a crafts marketplace to buy handcrafted and traditional items from all around the world. Items for sale will include jewelry, specialty items and original artwork.
There will also be children’s activities in the CarMax Family Area. The Children’s Museum of Richmond will produce Camp Folk Fest, where children can discover camping by learning to construct a tent. Children will also learn through crafts, games and win prizes.
Although the event is free, organizers say a suggested $10 donation can make through the bucket brigade can help cover the costs of the festival.
What to experience:
Friday, October 12
6:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Day one of the Richmond Folk Festival will include nine performances on four different stages including Richmond native and Gospel singer Cora Harvey Armstrong. She will be performing on all three days of the festival. You can catch her soul-stirring performances on the Altria stage on Friday, on the Community Foundation Stage and Lyft stage Saturday, and on the Altria Stage Sunday along with the Larry Bland & the Volunteer Choir.
Joining Armstrong on Friday will be award-winning Irish singer Jarlath Henderson, who will be coming from Scotland. The 32-year-old Irish singer will follow Armstrong on the Altria stage on Friday night and will also be performing all three days of the festival. You can catch Henderson on the Community Foundation Stage Saturday afternoon, the Lyft Stage during the evening, and on the CoStar Stage Sunday afternoon.
If you feel like busting a move, Friday night will also feature a zydeco dance lesson with Talia Moser at the Dominion Energy Dance Pavilion.
Saturday, October 13
Noon – 9:30 p.m.
Day two of the festival features Grammy award-winning singer Mavis Staples who make her lone performance at the festival on the Altria Stage. You may know Stables as a member of her family’s band The Staple Singers, or as a solo artist. The group may be best known for their hit song “I’ll take you there.” Staples was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017.
New Orleans bounce pioneer Ricky B will bring his energetic sound to the Richmond Folk Festival on Saturday afternoon and evening with performances on the Community Foundation Stage and the Dominion Energy Dance Pavilion.
The brass bands and Mardi Gras Indian chants will return Sunday afternoon as Ricky B makes his third and final performance at the Dominion Energy Dance Pavilion.
Saturday performances will kick-off at noon with bluegrass singer Claire Lynch on the Community Foundation Stage. Lynch is a three-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year award. She will also perform on the Altria stage Saturday evening, before returning Sunday for three more performances.
Sunday, October 14
Noon – 6:00 p.m.
The final day of the Richmond Folk Festival will feature more than two dozen live music and dance performances.
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne will bring some blues and boogie-woogie to Richmond with multiple performances on Saturday and Sunday.
If you like jazz, Sunday will have multiple artists to choose from including singer Brianna Thomas and Gypsy jazz artist Lulo Reinhardt. Thomas will have multiple performances throughout the weekend including kicking off Sunday at noon on the Community Foundation Stage.
Also beginning Sunday’s festivities will be Lulo Reinhardt who will perform on the Altria Stage at noon. He will also join a medley of performers on the CoStar Stage later Sunday afternoon.
If you like learning about other cultures, the Virginia Traditions Stage has a lot to offer Sunday and throughout the weekend. There will be Caribbean costumes and dance, Mongolian masks and dance, and Cambodian costumes and dance. There will also be an oyster shucking demonstration.
Food vendors, beer and wine
After dancing and working up an appetite, there will be a wide variety of food to fill your belly including ethnic, regional and traditional foods you can find all over the globe.
This year there will be dozens of food vendors including some local favorites.
There are four food areas set up throughout the festival:
|Boka Truck||Fusion Takos|
|Nadar’s Bistro||Gyros, Falafel, Dolmades, Bakalava, Greek Salad, Hummus|
|Ginger Thai Taste||Pad Thai Chicken, Bangkok Chicken, Satay Chicken, Dumplings|
|India K’Raja||Butter Chicken, Lamb Curry, Vegetable Samosa, Naan, Vegetable Korma, Chai Tea, Mango Lassi, Bhatura|
|Croaker’s Spot||Fish, Chicken, Cornbread, Corn on the Cob, Red beans and Rice, Mac and Cheese|
|Concessions World||Italian/Kelbasa sausage, Philly Steak, Chicken Philly Steak, Funnel Cakes, Butterfly Chips|
|Strawberry Street Event Concessions||Fried Oysters, Shrimp, Clams, Crabcakes, Burgers, Hot Dogs,Corn Dogs, Funnel Cakes|
|Jadean’s Smokin Six-O||BBQ, Brisket, Smoked chicken. Ribs, Sausage, hand cut seasoned fries, BBQ Beans|
|Slideways Mobile Bistro||Gourmet sliders-Beef, Chicken, Vegetarian|
|Espresso A Go Go||Coffee, espressos|
|Community Foundation Stage|
|Cool Concessions Kettle Corn||Kettle corn|
|MacBrand Foods||Sausage, cheesesteaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, onion rings|
|Happy Empanada||An assortment of sweet and savory pies|
|Leisure Time||Corn Dogs, Grilled Chicken, Chicken Finger Basket, Funnel Cakes, Fried Oreos|
|Goatocado||Vegan Sandwiches and sides|
|Jem’s Caribbean Cuisine||Jerk, Curry, and Oxtail platters with cabbage, Coconut Rice and Beans, and plantains.|
|Concession World||Lemonade & Funnel Cakes|
|Altria Stage Food Court|
|Gregory’s Grill||Crabcakes, Fish Tacos, Fried Oysters, NC BBQ, Crab Soup|
|La Milpa||Quesadillas, burritos, Mexican tacos, soft tacos|
|Food Corner & Grill||Chicken Terriyaki on a Stick, Veggie Fried Rice, Veggie Lo Mein, Pad Thai|
|Mama J’s||Catfish nuggets, Macaroni & Cheese, Collard Greens, Corn Muffins|
|Hand Popped Kettle Corn||Kettle Corn|
|Westray’s Ice Cream||Ice Cream|
|Rare Olde Times||Reuben Egg Rolls, Scotch Eggs, Fish n Chips|
|Shakedown Eats||Cowboy Chili and Lot Tots|
|Tredegar Food Court|
|Island Noodles||Hawaiian Style Soba Noodles prepared vegan, with protein, or vegetables|
|King of Pops||Popsicles|
|International Grill||Garlic Chicken over Greek Salad, Steak in Pita, Chicken in Pita, Mediterranean sausage, Falafel, Greek Salad|
|Urbanna Seafood Company||Crab cakes, Soft Shell Crab Sandwich, Popcorn Shrimp, Chicken fingers|
|Espresso A Go Go||Coffee, Lattes, Mochas, Espressos|
|Cool Concessions||Po-Boys, Shrimp, Oysters, Calamari, Alligator, BBQ, Steak and Cheese, Crab Balls, Fried Mac and Cheese|
|Return of the Mac||Gourmet Mac & Cheese|
|Make Me A Plate||Steam Shrimp Boil, Bing bang Shrimp|
|Happy Empanada||Empanadas, Plantains, Rice & Beans, Mango Coleslaw, Chips and Mango Salsa|
Beer lovers will have plenty of options with the return of the Craft Beer Tent, hosted by Loveland Distributing. You can sample craft beers, many from Virginia, and there will also be beer talks, games, hourly tappings.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Richmond Folk Festival will also feature a specially brewed beer. Folk FestivALE by Champion Brewing will be available in cans throughout the festival.
Wine lovers, don’t worry, you will have a choice between two signature wines, Foot Stompin’ Festival Red and Foot Stompin’ Festival White.
Organizers of the festival are still calling for volunteers. Last year more than 1,300 people volunteered in a variety of roles including beer/wine sales, bucket brigade, and the photo booth.
If you are interested in volunteering, click here.
If you are interested in group volunteer opportunities for a school, church or organization, email volunteer coordinator Jamie Thomas at email@example.com
Where to park
Vehicle traffic will not be permitted on the actual event site during the festival, but there are several options for parking and free shuttles.
- Shockoe Bottom, 100 Virginia St. – $7.00
- Crowne Plaza, 555 E. Canal St. Varies – $5.00-$10.00
- 801 E. Cary Street (Lot between 8th & 9th on Cary) – varies $6.00-$10.00
- 1200 E. Byrd St. (along the flood wall) – $8.00
- Richmond Times-Dispatch parking, 300 E. Franklin St – $5.00, cash only
CityParking – $5.00
- Main & Foushee
- 1st & Canal
- 3rd & Cary
- 4th & Canal
- 5th & Canal, 5th & Cary
- 6th & Main
- 8th & Cary
Free parking and Free shuttles are available from City Stadium at 3201 Maplewood Avenue. All shuttles will stop at two festival locations every 20 minutes: one at 2nd Street and one at 7th Street. That hotline number is 804-358-4782.
Free shuttle schedule:
Friday: 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
There will also be a designated Lyft drop-off and pick-up spot at 320 S. 7th Street. Use can use the promo code RFF2018 to get 25% off rides to and from the festival throughout the weekend.
Bike parking is located near 2nd and Byrd Street. The area will be open during festival hours; Friday, 6pm – 10pm, Saturday, 12 noon – 9:30pm, Sunday, 12 noon – 6pm. Bikers are reminded to bring a bike lock.
Handicap parking is available in the Federal Reserve Parking Deck located on the corner of 5th and Byrd Streets. A traffic control officer will be at the intersection to allow properly identified vehicles through.