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15 Fall Festivals for Family Fun

by Casey | Posted on September 6th, 2013

The kids are back in school and already longing for a break. What to do? Head to one of these golden opportunities we call fall festivals, of course!

In no particular order, here are 15 of Virginia’s best fall festivals for families. Get out your calendar and let’s go.

Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon

Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon

1. October 26-27 – Don’t miss the Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon for wagon rides, a straw bale maze, corn husk doll demonstrations, apple roasting, and plenty more 18th century shenanigans. Festival is included with Mount Vernon admission: Adults $15; children 6 to 11 $7 and children 5 and under are free. Buy Now

If you think you’d like a riverboat ride with that, the Potomac River sightseeing cruises are half price during this time, too! Purchase your tickets through the Potomac Riverboat Company and admission to Mount Vernon (and the festival) is included!

2. October 5 – The AT&T Virginia Children’s Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Norfolk, and you should be part of the fun! Geared completely toward kids ages 10 and younger, this festival includes more than 100 activities, storytelling, lots of hands-on fun, costumed characters, and fun shows. Food vendors are on hand. $3 per person.

Belvedere Plantation Harvest Festival

Belvedere Plantation Harvest Festival

3. Sundays September 21 – November 3 – Head to Fredericksburg for the Belvedere Plantation Harvest Festival, featuring acres of pick-your-own pumpkins, hay rides, a maize maze, zip lines for little ones, a jumping pillow, pig races, barnyard animals and more. Fresh cider, pies, local honey and other wares are available, too. Children under two are free. Friday nights: $12/person. Weekends: $17/person. All-You-Can-Carry Pumpkins: $29.99 Buy Now

4. September 21 – If you love apples, you’re going to love the Apple Butter Celebration in Shenandoah National Park. From hot pots of boiling apples and apple foods to apple crafts, this is your place to be. Both you and the kids will enjoy live music, cloggers, face painting (yes, even you!), crafts and pony rides (okay, maybe not you). The event is free, but Skyline Drive access fee is $15 per vehicle.

New Town Art Festival

New Town Art Festival

5. September 21 – The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville is hosting the Reptile Day Family Festival that will include more than 200 snakes and other reptiles. It’s the perfect place for kids who like to see and learn about cobras, rattlesnakes, alligators and other cool critters. $5/adult and $3/child.

6. September 28 – Have a budding artist in your midst? Head to the New Town Art Festival in Williamsburg. $10 will get you the 4×4 creative space and sidewalk chalk, too! Prizes will be awarded for the theme “Take Flight.” It’s a great place to browse accomplished artists’ creations as well as create your own as an individual or family.

7. October 10-13 – The Suffolk Peanut Festival is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. Check out the demolition derby and tractor pulls in addition to the amusement rides, fireworks and, of course, peanuts. Free admission; $10 parking.

Harrisonburg International Festival

Harrisonburg International Festival

8. September 28 – Give your kids a sense of appreciation for diversity when you attend the Harrisonburg International Festival together. Harrisonburg is comprised of many ethnic groups, bringing their traditions to you through dance, culinary arts, language and hand-crafted treasures. Taste foods from Ethiopia, Mexico, India, Thailand, Europe, Puerto Rico, and Central America, while performing arts are representative of the Aztec, Filipino, Indian, Irish, Chinese, and Kurdish communities. Free admission; plenty of food and crafts available for purchase.

9. October 11-13 – The Richmond Folk Festival brings more than 30 diverse performing groups to seven stages over the course of three days. Check out the family area that boasts special characters and performers of its own, not to mention unique pirate-themed craft stations. Make-and-take an eye patch, a pirate hat, a telescope, a pirate flag, and maps. Free admission.

Bland County Festival of Leaves

Bland County Festival of Leaves

10. October 11-13 – Have a knight or princess in your house rather than a pirate? If so, go to Newport News for the Harvest Faire. Medieval-themed family fun awaits! Visit the 15th century encampment, witness combat between knights, watch archers master their mark, and participate in pumpkin tossing and other period games. Feel free to come in costume! $15/adult Saturday, $10/adult Sunday or $20/adult for the whole weekend. Kids 6 to 12 are $10 for the weekend or $5/day. Buy Now to save on admission. Camping available.

11. October 19 – The Harvest Festival in the Village of Aldie was Loudoun County’s Tourism Event of the Year in 2010 and it’s a great event for families. Historic Aldie Mill is the gorgeous backdrop for face painting, moon bounces, pony rides, blacksmith demonstrations, and the highly anticipated Firequacker Duck Race. Civil War reenactors from the 17th Mississippi Regiment will be on hand, and you can also look forward to grinding demonstrations inside the mill. This is a free event with an optional $5 parking donation recommended.

12. October 12-13 – The Bland County Festival of Leaves is a free event that spreads across the fairgrounds and Court House lawn in Bland. It’s everything you’d expect a fall festival to be – great food, beautiful crafts, hayrides, entertainment, and many opportunities for kids to have a great time.

Arborfest

Arborfest

13. October 12-13Arborfest is the annual fall festival of the State Arboretum of Virginia in Boyce. The grounds will be absolutely stunning (photo op!), but a cool draw or two for the kids? Make their own scarecrow ($5) and enjoy hay rides. For you? Nearly 40 vendors will be on hand with native plants for sale, as well as home and garden decor. Free guided tours. Admission is $10/vehicle.

14. October 19 – Head to another beautiful arboretum – the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at James Madison University – for the Children’s Harvest Festival in Harrisonburg. Built for kids, the entertainment includes dance exhibitions and lessons, crafts, singers, instrument performances and lessons, story time, trail tours, seed collection activities, free horse-drawn wagon rides and more!

Ashland Train Day

Ashland Train Day

15. November 2Ashland Train Day is a railroad destination event for the whole family. Expect railroad music and songs, a miniature children’s train ride, games, tons of model trails from LEGO to wooden and electric, model train racing, a moon bounce, and a whole lot more. Feel free to wear your engineer bibs and a bandana! This is a free event.

It was hard to pick just 15 festivals for this list, so I encourage you to see the full festival directory to discover more.

Here’s to a fantastic fall for your family from ours!

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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*Fall Foliage Reports will begin on or about September 25.

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Events, Fall in Virginia, Family, Festivals | 3 Comments

Eat Up! August is National Peach Month!

by Casey | Posted on August 2nd, 2013

Fresh, juicy peaches are unbeatable, if you love peaches. And if you love peaches, you’re going to LOVE August! August is National Peach Month and here are all the fun things you need to know to capitalize on the peach harvest.

Chiles Peach Orchard

Chiles Peach Orchard

Where to Pick

Cana – Ayers Orchard – Right at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains is this beautiful pick-your-own orchard and century farm. Available varieties of peaches and nectarines are China Pearl, Red Skins, Alberta, Jersey Queen, Jefferson and Georgia Belles. By next week Yellow Hale should be ready to pick.

Crozet – Chiles Peach Orchard – Check out the farm market and ice cream parlor where amazing treats await. Hot, fresh donuts, pies, fudge … it’s a heavenly place! This Saturday and Sunday, August 3 & 4, is the annual Homemade Peach Ice Cream Days. Grab some and then pick your own yellow Freestone for $1.39/lb. or Donut peaches for $1.99/lb.

Crozet – Henley’s Orchard – For more than 75 years Henley’s has been growing and sharing peaches, nectarines and more. Fresh preserves and homemade peach ice cream is waiting for you here!

Saunders Brothers Farm Market

Saunders Brothers Farm Market

Piney River – Saunders Brothers Orchard & Farm Market – The first peaches of the season are now available! All varieties are $2.99/lb or go all out and pick a peck or a bushel. As the month goes on, expect the Loring, Sugar Giant, Blake and Mr. Carson varieties to be ready. Spend some time this Saturday, August 3, enjoying the antique farm equipment display.

MORE Farms & Orchards

 

Peach Festivals

Winchester – Peach FestivalAugust 10, 2013 – Probably every peach dish you can imagine can be found at this festival. Peach cobbler, pie, turnovers, ice cream … the list goes on! Enjoy the live music from 1 to 3 p.m. and load the kids up on the cow train.

Meadows of Dan – Annual Meadows of Dan Folk FairAugust 17, 2013 – Musicians, crafts, fun activities for the kids, and plenty of peaches in various edible forms — even peach butter made like apple butter!

Middletown – Richard’s Fruit Market Peach FestivalAugust 18, 2013 – It’s a day of family fun with haywagon and barrel train rides, plus a petting zoo and all the peaches you care to eat.

MORE Festivals

 

A Peach Recipe for You

Easy Fresh Peach Preserves by  Karla Jones Seidita of Cheesecake FarmsEasy Fresh Peach Preserves from Karla Jones Seidita of Cheesecake Farms in Sumerduck.

  • 8 to 10 ripe peaches (about 3 1/2 lbs.)
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar

Peel and pit peaches. Remove any bruised spots and discard. Coarsely mash. Stir in lemon juice. Measure peahces and juice – you should have about five cups.

Put mashed peaches and juice in a large skillet (not cast iron). Add sugar and cover the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for one minute with the lid on, then remove lid. Reduce heat so peaches bubble but don’t boil over.

Cook, stirring, until mixture reduces in volume by half (about eight minutes). Do not overcook. Preserves thicken as they cool.

Remove from heat and skim away any foam. Immediately ladle into a heat-proof container. Cool uncovered at room temperature for about an hour, then cover and refrigerate. Stores refrigerated for up to one week.

Have a peach recipe you’d love to share? Leave a comment!



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8 Incredible Virginia Summer Music Festivals

by Casey | Posted on July 1st, 2013

The words summer and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. They’re matches made in heaven and very enjoyable when experienced together.

Galax Fiddlers' Convention

The Galax Fiddlers’ Convention is a competition/concert/jam session rolled into one.

If you haven’t yet done so, dust the cobwebs from your folding chairs and throw them in the trunk. You’re going to need them for these eight amazing summer music festivals in Virginia.

1. The world’s largest and oldest fiddler’s convention is found in Galax, and you can count on it being around for years to come. Held every summer during the second week of August, the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention welcome musicians and fans from around the world. In fact, Galax is called the World’s Capital of Oldtime Mountain Music. Go see and hear what you’ve been missing out on August 5-10 when the 78th annual convention convenes.

Listen to the FloyFest playlist on Spotify

2. Seven stages and more than 50 artists are scheduled for this year’s FloydFest, a four-day celebration of art and music spread over 80 acres on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 170.5. Visit the Global Village for arts workshops and demonstrations from 100 vendors and artisans. Plenty of food, a Children’s Universe and so much more! Scheduled artists include Old Crow Medicine Show, The Lumineers (ho hey!), John Butler Trio and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.

Listen to the Red Wing Roots Festival playlist on Spotify3. Red Wing Roots Festival is a brand new music festival, but it’s big and has huge potential. Don’t miss this inaugural event at Natural Chimneys in Mt. Solon July 12-14. The biggest draw of this event is the volume of entertainment. Expect four stages with 40 bands, including big names like The Del McCoury Band, The Sam Bush Band, Tim O’Brien, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The Steel Wheels. A kid’s stage will include special performances and workshops.

Richmond Jazz Festival

The Richmond Jazz Festival showcases top artists in an intimate, casual atmosphere.

4. The Richmond Jazz Festival has quickly become the premier event of its kind. This year the festival welcomes giants of jazz like Jill Scott, Michael McDonald, Chick Corea & The Vigil, Terrence Blanchard, and Dr. John & The Nite Trippers. Don’t miss this one. It’s August 9-11 in Richmond.

5. The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs is celebrating its 50th season this summer and promises to pack a punch. The kicker to this festival is that it’s not consecutive days, but spread throughout the summer season, giving you more chances to enjoy the tunes. Of note are Kris Kristofferson on August 3, Marty Stuart on August 9 and Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul on August 31.

6. The Verizon Wireless American Music Festival at Virginia Beach brings in bands representing multiple American genres from all over – local, regional and national. Five stages will welcome more than 30 bands this Labor Day weekend (August 30-September 1). The major headliners are Third Eye Blind, Barenaked Ladies and Daughtry, but other well-known groups like Fuel, Smash Mouth, Carbon Leaf and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are also on the bill.

7. Chamber music lovers will adore Staunton Music Festival, a nine-day celebration occurring August 16-24. Nearly 30 concerts by more than 60 of the world’s finest chamber musicians will perform at historic venues throughout downtown Staunton. Expect to hear pieces from the Renaissance through today with world premiers by composers-in-residence. Who wouldn’t love to be present for a world premier?!

Listen to the Interlocken Festival playlist on Spotify8. Extend your summer into the second weekend of September (September 5-8). It will be so worth it because that’s when Lockn’ Music Festival takes over Oak Ridge Estate in Arrington. It’s a four-day music festival with artists like Gov’t Mule, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Black Crowes, John Fogerty, The String Cheese Incident, Punch Brothers, Widespread Panic and Zac Brown of Zac Brown Band.

Find more fantastic festivals and events.

*Note: These aren’t ranked, simply numbered. Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite or tell us if we missed one that’s on your list.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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Festivals, Outdoors | 7 Comments

Mmm! Food Festivals!

by Casey | Posted on May 10th, 2013

If you’ve been looking for a tasty way to spend a Saturday, look no further. It’s strawberry season and that’s just the beginning of the deliciousness that awaits you in Virginia.

St. Stephen's Strawberry Festival

St. Stephen’s Strawberry Festival

Love to try various types of barbecue or do you already have a favorite? If you’re a taster at heart, be sure to add these events to your calendar.

Greek flavors are right at home in Virginia. Here’s where you can enjoy souvlaki, dolmades and spanakopita in a festival environment.

Sweet strawberries! It’s that time of year and here’s where you can get the fresh-picked goodness. Take some home, but definitely find a strawberry shortcake for immediate gratification.

Southern comfort foods abound in Virginia, and you can certainly expect to find some at a festival near you.

Festivals sure are a scrumptious way to spend your summer! Find more at Virginia.org.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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LOVE on Display at Neptune Festival

by Casey | Posted on September 20th, 2012

UPDATE – 9/27/12:

The LOVE sand sculpture is complete and on display.  Go check it out this weekend at Virginia Beach’s Neptune Festival.   Wonder how it was built?  Check out this video – 24 hours of sandcastle building compressed into two minutes!

Virginia is for Lovers is about love – pure and simple. For those who have traveled Virginia seeking LOVE artworks for photo opportunities, here’s a new artwork and perhaps our most unique yet.

Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend

Sandsculpture at a previous Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend.

On Monday, September 24, master sand sculptors will bring LOVE to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront in the form of a giant wave crashing and leaving the word LOVE behind. See the LOVE sand sculpture in progress from the Virginia Beach Boardwalk between 7th and 8th Streets and in its completed form for the duration of the Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend  (September 28-30) through October 7.

Beginning September 28, visitors can get close to the 5′ x 14′ sculpture with a $3 admission ticket to Neptune’s Kingdom of Sand (children 12 and under are free). Pose for a photo and then share it to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #LOVEVA, or post it on the Virginia is for Lovers Facebook page.

The highlight of the Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend is the signature, world-renowned North American Sandsculpting Championship, where more than 275 artisans showcase their talents along 35 blocks of the Boardwalk. It’s the largest event of its kind. Additionally, visitors will enjoy a variety of live music, a Grand Parade, Saturday night fireworks display over the Atlantic, volleyball tournament, surfing classic, Atlantic Sailing Regatta, and 8K and 5K runs. The entire weekend is a memorable family fun experience, one that truly puts LOVE at the heart of a Virginia vacation.

The Neptune Festival LOVE artwork is part of a statewide effort which began with the Virginia is for Lovers oversized LOVE artwork. The artwork has made stops at Virginia Welcome Centers, attractions and localities throughout Virginia.  It has become a favorite photo opportunity for visitors as well as local residents wherever it has gone. Photos taken by visitors from across the country can be seen at Virginia.org/LOVE.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
Request you free Virginia Travel Guide



Beaches, Events, Fall in Virginia, Festivals | 1 Comment