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10 Festivals Kids Will LOVE

by Casey | Posted on April 8th, 2014

It’s warm and you’re ready to get moving on the weekends. Festivals should be top-of-mind, of course, but when kids are in tow, look to these great opportunities they’re sure to love.

Annual International Children's Festival, Hampton.

Annual International Children’s Festival, Hampton.

April 13 – The Rockfish Valley Foundation Kite Flying Festival in Nellysford includes demos with Richmond Air Force, instruction, games, a duck race, a kite store, and free kites to the first 150 kids. It’s all free and you’re welcome to bring a picnic and stay a while.

April 19 – The Annual International Children’s Festival in Hampton is like traveling the world, from a kid’s point of view. More than 35 countries will be represented with cultural arts and performances, foods, and activities. Be sure to pick up your passport and have it stamped at each country to be entered to win a prize. Festival Map

April 26 – RIVERFest is held at Colonial Place in Norfolk and is a free outdoor celebration that promotes the restoration of Lafayette River. Kids will enjoy fireboat rides, and can create treasures with Indian beads, ECO arts, or “build a buoy.” Older kids even might join in the embellished craft race with a parent (requirements).

Jamestown Day

Jamestown Day

May 3 – Waynesboro Riverfest is a day of fun built to reach kids and adults for the purpose of emphasizing commitment and responsibility to conservation. Kids will love the canoe rides, arts and crafts, reptile and animal shows, and the fish and fun rodeo, not to mention the South River duck race!

May 10 – Jamestown Day is bucket list worthy for kids and their parents. If you’ve never been to Jamestown, you’re in for a real treat. The ships will be sailing and there are demonstrations, music and activities everywhere you turn. Get to know all about the 1607 founding of America’s first permanent English colony.

May 17 – Fundango Festival is called the #1 family fun festival in Virginia Beach and you’re invited to find out why. Meet Olympians and participate in the Olympic Experience, enjoy amazing entertaining acts, make faces in the photo booth, toss some corn hole, get your crafting on, and tons more.

May 24 – Delaplane Strawberry Festival in Delaplane is all about strawberries, of course. Bring your little ones out for old fashioned games, petting zoo, arts and crafts, hayrides, and more.

Celebrate Fairfax!

Celebrate Fairfax!

June 6-9 – Celebrate Fairfax! is 25 acres of family fun, including the ExxonMobil Children’s Avenue! Expect to find interactive activities, petting zoo, children’s entertainment stage, Inova Trackless Train, crafts, and so much more. This area is designed for kids 12 and younger.

June 7 – Manassas Heritage Railway Festival in Manassas offers a children’s stage of entertainment to go with the kids rides and Thomas the Tank Engine Kiddie Train. Load the whole family into the VRE Excursion Train for a ride to Clifton and back for just $6 each.

June 13-14 – The Annual Massanutten Antique Tractor & Gasoline Engine Club Show is celebrating 25 years. Dads will love checking out the equipment while kids check out the farm toy show, participate in the pedal races, or cheer on the tractor pulls.

These aren’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to festivals in Virginia. See the whole list!

Related: 10 Spring Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

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10 Spring Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss

by Casey | Posted on March 19th, 2014

Between spring and summer, Virginia has hundreds of festivals to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere, tastes and vibe. Here are ten festivals that either have a storied history or are rising stars in their genre. Plan a spring weekend around one.

Daffodil Festival, Gloucester

Daffodil Festival, Gloucester

A true harbinger of spring, Gloucester’s Daffodil Festival is an annual two day extravaganza held in early April, just as the beautiful yellow blooms make their appearance. With floats akin to those of the Rose Parade, the festival kicks off with the Daffodil Festival Parade and the Daffodil Queen. The remainder of the festival is what you’d expect – magicians, face painting, artisans, live music, and tons of food. Saturday only, you’re invited to take a tour of Brent & Becky’s Bulbs to take place your order for genuine Gloucester Daffodil bulbs!

The Virginia Hot Glass Festival is held annually in Staunton and hosted by SunSpots Studio. Not afraid to share their spotlight, SunSpots invites other glass blowers from around the region to demonstrate and show off their talents for these two late April dates. Take home a piece of jewelry, art glass marbles, or other hand blown glass item just after the artist has put the finishing touches on it. For the kids, a fire-breathing dragon and ray gun demonstration will be key highlights, along with the challenge the kids can present to the artists: create a blown glass rendition of a kids’ drawing. The Virginia Hot Glass Festival is the only festival of its kind in Virginia.

A fairly new festival is the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival in Harrisonburg. Now in its fourth year, this festival celebrates craft beer from Virginia and beyond. Each brewery (30 so far) will have a representative on site serving their flagship beer as well as a rare or seasonal craft brew. Expect great food from the burgeoning restaurant scene of Harrisonburg, as well as fantastic live music to round out this spring day in late April. TICKETS

One of Virginia’s largest and oldest festivals is the annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, held over 10 days at the end of April and into early May. Entering its 87th year, the festival has grown to include a wine festival, midway rides, a golf tournament, apple pie baking contest, a fun run and 10K, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah, the Queen’s Ball, fireworks, the world’s largest firefighters’ parade, and the official Grand Feature Parade, among other events with live music and food involved. TICKETS

Chincoteague Seafood Festival

Chincoteague Seafood Festival

Salivating for fresh seafood? Wipe your mouth and head to the Chincoteague Seafood Festival in early May! Signature seafood dishes will be prepared for your consumption, including the famous Little Neck Clams that the festival is known for. Drinks are included with admission; beer is additional. Stay all day and graze while live beach music sets the vibe. TICKETS

The middle of May is the perfect time to treat yourself (or mom for Mother’s Day!) to a day overlooking the Potomac River with a glass of wine at the Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Sixteen Virginia wineries will be on hand for your tasting pleasure while the rarely opened wine storage of George Washington will be open for your viewing pleasure. This festival is very popular and often sells out in advance. Tickets available beginning April 1.

Southerners love their fried chicken and no community knows that better than Gordonsville! Dubbed the “Chicken Leg Center of the Universe,” Gordonsville offers to you its annual Famous Fried Chicken Festival. The story of their fried chicken goes way back to the 19th century women who would greet passengers on the train as it stopped in Gordonsville, all while carrying platters of chicken on their heads. The hospitality of serving great fried chicken has never stopped and you can enjoy the flavors or offer your own at the cook-off. Wineries and artisans will be on hand to complete the festival environment.

Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival, Martinsville

Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival, Martinsville

If you love multi-day music festivals, don’t wait until summer to get your groove on. Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival is four days of live music over Memorial Day Weekend. At the time of this writing, there are 35 bands lined up, including Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, The Infamous Stringdusters and Yarn. Held at the Blue Mountain Festival Grounds in Martinsville, this festival will include delicious food, children’s activities, and arts and crafts. Camping is available. TICKETS

Portsmouth invites you to the Annual UMOJA Festival in late May. It’s the 24th year for this three day festival promoting cultural diversity and unity, and will open with a traditional African drum call and ceremonial processional. Great ethnic foods and artisans’ wares are a highlight along with a famed musical act. This year the UMOJA Festival welcomes Chaka Khan!

The three day Clinch River Days Festival is held annually in St. Paul and celebrates the river life, heritage and culture of Southwest Virginia. Whatever your outdoor pleasure, you can likely enjoy it during this weekend of fun. Taste the food and wine flavors of the region as you learn about the railroad and river influence on this area.

Find more fun festivals and events at Virginia.org/Events.

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10 of Virginia’s Tastiest Fall Food Festivals

by Casey | Posted on September 16th, 2013

You’re right on time for fall flavors. Taste your way from the mountains to the shore this fall in Virginia.

Graves Mountain Apples

Graves Mountain Apples

Apples

The Apple Butter Celebration in Shenandoah National Park is Saturday, September 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyland Resort. Take the ride up the mountain to see the early turners and get your fill of fresh-from-the-kettle apple butter, apple smoked BBQ, apple salsa, granny apple cole slaw, caramel apples, apple cobbler, and apple cider. Various entertainers will keep the day lively. The Celebration is free; admission to Shenandoah National Park is $15 per car.

The Apple Harvest & Apple Butter Festival at Drumheller’s Orchard occurs Saturday and Sunday, September 28-29 and October 19-20. Come out anytime from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tasty fresh-picked apples, apple butter, cider, honey, and plenty of family fun. Apple sling shot, anyone?  Free parking and entertainment.

Head to Syria for the Graves’ Mountain Apple Harvest Festival Saturdays and Sundays from October 5 through October 20, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 2013 marks the festival’s 44th year. Don’t miss out on the kettle-cooked apple butter, applesauce, apple cider, apple butter donuts, and apple pies. Feel free to pick your own apples, too! Entertainment includes Bluegrass musicians, cloggers, a hay maze, hay mountain, hayrides, and horseback rides. A taste of southwest Virginia is available here, too … Brunswick Stew! Free parking and entertainment.

 

Bluegrass, Barbeque & Brew Festival

Bluegrass, Barbeque & Brew Festival

Barbecue

A brand new event in Norfolk is Ribtoberfest! Held at Town Point Park this Saturday, September 21 from noon to 8 p.m., Ribtoberfest brings beer and BBQ into one delicious waterside feast. Blues musicians will keep the day hoppin’ while restaurants pull out the stops to serve up their best ribs, pulled pork and other barbecue creations. More than 20 breweries will be on hand with 40+ Autumn-style beers. Admission is free.

Bands, Brews and Barbecue will be held Saturday, September 28 from noon to 7 p.m. on the Manassas Museum Lawn in Manassas. Purchase tickets to sample the brews (with a valid ID) and some great Virginia barbecue while the bands play away the day. Free admission.

Patrick Henry’s Red Hill will host the Bluegrass, Barbecue and Brew Festival on Saturday, November 2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Local grillmasters includes Drug Store Grill from Brookneal, True Q BBQ from Lynchburg, and Tater Bugs Barbeque from South Boston. Four Virginia craft breweries and one cidery will be pouring while Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia bluegrass musicians entertain. Admission is $10 for music only and $15 for those who wish to sample the beverages. Buy Now

 

Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival

Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival

Seafood

A beautiful view from Farley Vale Farm in King George is the icing on the Rappahanock Riverfest happening this Saturday, September 21 from 3 to 8 p.m. Riverfest is an all-you-can-eat Blue Crab and barbecue event with open bar, live entertainment and auctions. Tickets are $85 and available in advance only. Buy Now

Historic Stratford Hall hosts the Stratford Hall Wine and Oyster Festival this weekend, September 21-22 beginning at 11 a.m. each day. A variety of oysters will be available, as will shrimp, clams, and the fine vintages of 13 Virginia wineries. Admission for oyster and wine tasting is $45 (in advance) and includes three oysters from each of the seven oyster growers, and a wine tasting from each of the wineries. A ticket for wine tasting only is $25 in advance; Non-tasting is $10 in advance; Children 6-12 are $5 in advance. Buy Now

Head to the Shore for the Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival, Saturday October 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of oysters (half shell, steamed, fried, fritters …), crabs, hush puppies, clam chowder, and more. Admission is $40. Buy Now

You don’t want to miss the Official Oyster Festival of the Commonwealth, the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The entire town of Urbanna turns into festival grounds Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2, with oyster shucking competitions, a parade, oysters served anyway you like, and the crowning of the Oyster Festival Queen and Little Miss Spat. The festival is free and pay-as-you-go.

 

+1! Late Fall Bonus Event:

Sample the best of the bay at Taste by the Bay in Irvington on Saturday, November 23. Virginia wineries, breweries, and local restaurants will serve samples to ticket holders from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $30 in advance or $35 at the gate.

 

Find more flavors to love at Virginia.org/FoodFestivals!

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7 Toe-Tapping Fall Music Festivals

by Casey | Posted on September 11th, 2013

Fall’s cool temperatures are perfect for festivals – especially music festivals – where a quilt on the ground or a folding chair is just about all you need for an incredible day. Kick back and listen or get up and dance; the choice is yours!

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion

1. Bristol is the Birthplace of Country Music. Come home every fall for the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, a three-day explosion of passionate, electric, soulful music that takes over State Street.

- September 20-22
- 150+ Entertainers
- 22 Stages
- $40 Weekend Pass - Buy Now

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2.  The Festy Experience, now in its fourth year, is held at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, nestled in the Rockfish Valley of Nelson County against the Blue Ridge Mountains. Camping is available. Be sure to purchase your 16 oz. Festy Klean Kanteen steel pint for beverage purchases and complimentary water.

Listen to The Festy Experience playlist on Spotify

- October 11-13
- 24 Entertainers
- 3 Stages
- $39/Day or $109 Weekend Pass; $10/Day Parking or $30 Weekend Parking Pass – Buy Now

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3. If your grass is blue, you have to be at the Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival in Buena Vista later this month. Held at Glen Maury Park with a frontrow seat to the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can camp and make a weekend getaway of it. Namesake Nothin’ Fancy will be joined by Rhonda Vincent & The Rage – the Most Award Winning Band in Bluegrass History – and others.

- September 26-28
- 13 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $25-$30/Day or $70 Weekend Pass; $10/Day Rough Camping – Buy Now

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4. If you’re looking to pair good music with equally amazing chili, perhaps Virginia Chili, Blues n’ Brews in Waynesboro is your ticket for a great Saturday in the Shenandoah Valley. Sample the chili and beer, including Virginia’s own Wildwolf Brewing craft beer, and let the lineup of blues artists do the rest. This festival was named the Best Food Festival in the Shenandoah Valley by Virginia Living Magazine earlier this year; a plus for those who go for the music!

- September 21
- 4 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $15 or VIP Experiences from $50-$125 Buy Now

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Bluegrass, Barbecue, and Brew Festival

Bluegrass, Barbecue and Brew Festival

5. Patrick Henry’s Red Hill in Brookneal plays host to the third annual Bluegrass, Barbecue, and Brews Festival, which is quite fitting as the folks at Red Hill tell us Mr. Henry was a “fiery fiddler!” Eat well and drink well, too, as four Virginia craft breweries and one cidery pours for you.

- November 2
- 3 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $10 for Music Only; $15 for Music & Beverages Buy Now

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6. Settle in with a glass of Skyline White, the signature wine of Mountain Cove Vineyards, and enjoy the Mountain Cove Music Festival in Lovingston. A blend of roots, bluegrass, country, blues and soul, this festival is one to watch.

- September 28
- 7 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $20 at the Gate

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7. Nothin’ Fancy makes the list again, but this time they’re part of the Hanover Ruritan Bluegrass Festival in Mechanicsville. Hear five groups perform two times each!

- October 5
- 5 Entertainers
- 1 Stage
- $12 in Advance Buy Now

Find more places to groove by checking out our calendar of music events. Happy fall, y’all!

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10 Free Things to Do this Fall in Virginia

by Casey | Posted on September 9th, 2013

One of Virginia’s most beautiful seasons is upon us, and you must get out and enjoy the view. Take your scenic drive, but also incorporate one or two of these 10 free things to do this fall. Your weekends are going to be amazing!

Callands Festival

Callands Festival

1. What a destination Waterford, Virginia is. Founded in 1733, the entire village is a National Historic Landmark and a majority of the buildings predating 1840 are still in use today. October 4-6 is the 70th Annual Waterford Homes Tour & Craft Exhibit. This should be a bucket list item for those who enjoy a walk through history. There are plenty of fun activities for kids, traditional music and dance, Colonial militia encampments, a fife and drum corps, and much more.
** Note: We’ve learned that there IS a fee for this event: $16 in advance; $20 at the gate. In light of that, an additional freebie!

1B. The Callands Festival in Callands, Virginia was named a Local Legacy of American Folk Life and Culture by the Library of Congress in 2000. Join in the fun with reenactors representative of both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, musicians, artisans, and guided tours of the historic buildings. Traditional foods will be available, as will beautifully handcrafted items. It’s happening October 5!

2. The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy marks the birthplace, early life and emancipation of educator, esteemed orator and presidential advisor, Booker T. Washington. September 21 is a special event, Harvest Time of 1863, which will portray tobacco plantation life during the harvest. Interpretive programs, craft demonstrations, horse-drawn wagon rides and fun for the children are all included in this free event.

Fall Farm Fest on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall Farm Fest on the Blue Ridge Parkway

3. Visit Westmoreland Berry Farm in Colonial Beach. Acres of Rappahannock River frontage are perfect for picnics and bird watching. The kids will enjoy a play area just for them, as well as the antics of the skywalking goats. Give the goats a nibble from the pulley feeder system; they love it! Westmoreland is a pick-your-own farm offering fall raspberries and pumpkins. Hitch a ride on the hay wagon to head to the fields. The only fee incurred at the farm is the rate for pick-your-own products or any cafe purchases you choose to make.

4. A beautiful drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway delivers you to the Fall Farm Fest at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Pioneer Farm on September 15. The fun begins at 10 a.m. with mountain crafts workshops and live music.

5. Day at the Point is a free fall festival now in its 16th year. Held October 5 in Lynchburg at Point of Honor, an 1815 Federal style mansion, the festivities include living history, kids games and activities, craft vendors, period music, candle making, beekeeping, blacksmithing, open hearth cooking, farm animals, and free tours of the 1815 historic home. Delicious food will be available for purchase, including Brunswick stew, barbecue, hot dogs, and homemade baked goods. Green thumbs may want to purchase special Point of Honor bulbs ready for fall planting.

Richmond Folk Festival

Richmond Folk Festival

6. It’s rare to find a free three-day music festival, but Richmond has one. Check out the Richmond Folk Festival October 11-13. Seven stages will host more than 30 music and dance groups – ballet, reggae, bluegrass, Vietnamese, Scissors Dance, polka, salsa, gospel, Cajun … the list goes on. And there’s a place for kids with make-and-take crafts and special performers.

7.  How about a hayride? The 60-acre Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton offers the Bluebird Country Hayride once a month at noon. For fall, head that way on September 14, October 12 or November 9. It’s a leisurely ride around the farm, the pond, through the woods and back again. Before or after your hayride, find a picnic area to enjoy lunch, walk the nature trail or let the kids loose at the playground. 150 domestic and wild animals are on site; bring your quarters to feed farm animals. Hayride is weather dependent.

Bluebird Gap Farm

Bluebird Gap Farm

8. Burke’s Garden is often referred to as God’s Thumbprint thanks to its aerial appearance – a giant thumbprint on the landscape of southwest Virginia. Visit this beautiful mountaintop valley during the Burke’s Garden Fall Festival on September 28, an annual event dating to 1987. “Handmade, homegrown and hands-on” is the feel of this festival that reflects farm living in the Heart of Appalachia.

9. The next opportunity for you to enjoy Virginia’s National Parks for free is September 28. Not all of the National Parks charge a fee, but there are some very popular ones that do. Mark this date to visit Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Shenandoah National Park and five others for free!

10. Check out the two-day Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour through Virginia’s beautiful Culpeper County on October 5 and 6. Take your time touring through 18 farms and farm related businesses to get involved with some hands-on activities and demonstrations, as well as mingle with llamas, horses, cattle, and buffalo. Expect to see both traditional and unique farm experiences during this free weekend that really does have something for everyone – even wine and moonshine!

Find more free ways to LOVE Virginia this fall: 40 or More Free Things to Do in Virginia

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