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Virginia’s Summer Music Festivals

by Casey | Posted on May 29th, 2012

As you get back to work after a long holiday weekend, let us help you brainstorm other ways to spend your days off this summer. You know you’re ready to walk away and enjoy life outside the workplace again. Or is it just me?

Music events are huge during the summer months with various genres and venues. Most assuredly, there’s a summer music festival just for you. Like a jazz sax over a mandolin? I’ve got one for you. Let’s dig in.

Beach Music

Stuart Beach Music Festival

Stuart Beach Music Festival

Stuart’s 31st Annual Hot Fun in the Summertime Beach Music Festival is June 7-9. Now you might be thinking, “beach music in the Blue Ridge Highlands?” Well, yes. The sand is trucked in and the bands are annual favorites at any beach music event you encounter. Come camp out, kick back and listen or shag to Band of Oz, The Tams, Jim Quick & Coastline, The Holiday Band, Big Daddy Love, and The Mark Roberts Band.

The Band of Oz gets around, I tell ya. See them again at the StellarOne Beach Music Festival in Buena Vista on July 28 at Glen Maury Park. They’re headlining along with Magnificents Band.

Bluegrass and Old Time

Old time fiddlin’ is hot in the summer. So hot that competitions are held with prize money, ribbons, and trophies going to the favorite musicians and bands. If “pickin’ and grinnin’” is your slice of life, pull up a camp chair, but make sure your flat footin’ shoes are at the ready.

Blues and Jazz

The Virginia Blues & Jazz Festival is held at Garth Newel in Hot Springs June 15-17. The performers are quite acclaimed – Grammy Award winners Grupo Fantasma and The Robert Cray Band promise an amazing weekend in the mountains.

Winchester Blues House Festival

Winchester Blues House Festival

In Hampton, the namesake Hampton Jazz Festival gets underway June 22 and is a three day event. Going strong for 45 years, the nation’s top blues, jazz, soul, and pop performers know they can count on a great crowd when they perform this event. Which top performers? How about Kenny G, Charlie Wilson, Natalie Cole, Monica, Jill Scott, Dave Koz, and BeBe Winans? They’ll be there with a few others.

The Winchester Blues House Festival is unique in that 100% of the festival net proceeds benefit local Habitat for Humanity efforts. Enjoy great musicians including headliner The Pat Travers Band on July 14.

This summer marks the 30th year for the Norfolk Jazz Festival and it promises to be better than ever with Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, Marcus Anderson, Peter Wright, Rick Braun, Gerald Albright, and more. July 20-21.

In a League of Its Own



FloydFest. Now there’s one of Virginia’s key summer music events. Camp around the Blue Cow Pavilion for four days (July 26-29) of “Lovers Rock” – seven stages hosting more than 50 musical performances spanning generations, more than 100 artisans, demonstrations, workshops, a Children’s Universe, babysitting service, and plenty of amazing food.

The list of FloydFest performers is outstanding. To mention but a few …

  • Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas
  • Jackson Browne
  • Brandi Carlile
  • Drive By Truckers
  • Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers
  • Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
  • Punch Brothers

Variety at the Beach

Virginia Beach is a given summer destination, but here’re a few more reasons why the call of the oceanfront is a little louder for music lovers.

Hardee’s Latin Fest is big on flavor – both in food and in music. Shake what you got as Salsa, Merengue, and Jazz are key to this event. June 8 and 9 on the beach at 24th Street. Free!

Sandstock – A Blast from the Past is just that. Cover bands for 60s, 70s, and 80s music take over the 17th, 24th, and 31st Street parks June 22-24. If you love The Who, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones, Pat Benatar, Elvis, and other key figures from those music periods, you’ll love this festival. Bring your tie dye and lots of hairspray! Free.

The big hits of summer at the beach come in the form of The Verizon Wireless American Music Festival. One giant stage sits on the sand and all of the other stages along the boardwalk are utilized as well for this three day multi-genre event. This year’s headliners are O.A.R., Cheap Trick, and Train. You’ve gotta be there – August 31-September 2.

Even Classical!

It might come as a surprise, but even classical music draws a festival crowd. See what I mean …

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival is held June 10-17 in Harrisonburg. Lawn chairs and cut-offs are discouraged, since this festival is held in a concert hall. Expect to see Grammy Award winner Eugene Friesen.

Wintergreen Resort hosts the Wintergreen Performing Arts Festival the weekends of July 6-8, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, and August 4-5. Enjoy pieces by Beethoven, Stravinsky, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Corelli, and Bach.

Just a little way down the road, classical junkies can experience a variety of venues to take in the sounds of the Staunton Music Festival August 17-25.

If this is still not enough for you to choose from, never fear. It’s not a comprehensive list and you can find more music and festivals at

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10 Great Summer Festivals

by Casey | Posted on May 16th, 2012

Festival season is officially underway in Virginia and this handy list will give you some ideas of how to spend your upcoming weekends.

Virginia Lake Festival

Virginia Lake Festival

1. May 19-20: Monacan Indian Nation Pow Wow in Madison Heights. $7 for adults, $5 for kids. If you’ve never experienced an authentic pow wow before, go to this one. Full regalia, drums, dancing, crafts, American Buffalo, Eagles, great food, and age-old stories make this a memorable event.

2. May 25-28: 43rd Annual Roanoke Festival in the Park in Roanoke. Free with the exception of evening concerts. This festival has taken a turn towards the arts, making it a great day or more for families to see a variety of creations. Expect to see sand sculptures, fine arts and crafts, cloggers, BMXers, animal acts, and even big names in concert – Gin Blossoms, Lee Brice, and Craig Morgan.

3. May 31-June 3: 32nd Annual Herndon Festival in Herndon. Centered on families, this festival includes carnival rides, games, kids’ hands-on activity area, a model railway exhibit, and fireworks!

4. June 1-3: Blackbeard Pirate Festival in Hampton. Arrgh! The pirate ships sail in to Hampton’s waterfront and hand-to-hand battles are waged just off the dock. Immerse yourselves as garbed scallywags meander the grounds singing sea chanties and telling tales. The photo ops are priceless! Fireworks, encampments, character entertainment for little ones at Little Swashbuckler Stage, and even cutlass-swinging lessons.

5. June 1-3: Patriotic Festival: A Celebration of Our Military in Virginia Beach. Little boys and big boys alike will especially enjoy the power-packed punch this festival delivers. The line-up for this year includes the Discovery Channel’s American Chopper with Paul Junior unveiling his custom military themed chopper, the Washington Redskins, great Monster Energy giveaways, Corvette Museum Racing Tour, Air National Guard simulators, the Blue Angels Oceanfront Air Show, and so, so much more.

Virginia Covered Bridge Festival

Virginia Covered Bridge Festival

6. June 8-11: Norfolk Harborfest® in Norfolk. Days of free entertainment including more pirates, tall ships, Battleship Wisconsin tours, fireworks, live music, Virginia wine sampling for mom and dad, face painting, make-and-take crafts, and appearances by Nick Jr’s Yo! Gabba! Gabba! characters.

7. June 16: Virginia Covered Bridge Festival in Woolwine. This festival is a little bit of nostalgia for you and a little glimpse of something that isn’t as common as it used to be for the kids. Hop aboard a wagon and take a ride between two of Virginia’s treasured covered bridges – Jack’s Creek and Bob White, browse the antique cars on display, let the kids cheer on the duck race, pet the animals, and bounce around in the inflatables to wear down their energy.

8. July 19-21: Virginia Lake Festival in Clarksville. Tethered hot air balloon rides, sand sculptors, lots of food and more than 200 vendors to browse, helicopter rides, antique cars, live music, and so much more await your family at this must-attend event at Virginia’s only lakeside town.

9. July 21-22: Renaissance Festival in Gloucester. Knights and ladies, do attend this medieval-style festival and learn to juggle, be knighted yourself, dance the maypole, and find other fun shennanigans to partake in. Free!

10. August 11: 5th Annual Smith River Fest in Axton. The outdoorsy family will thrive at this festival that’s all about the river! Enter the river race, learn to tie flies and cast a line, take a guided paddle trip, enjoy the live music,  or go for a float. The kids will be entertained in a number of ways, including the Kids Village with inflatables, climbing wall, and more.

If your interest in festivals is piqued, go on to and see more! There are beer, wine, and quite a variety of food festivals that you’re sure to enjoy.

LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Virginia is for Lovers.
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Family | 2 Comments

Three Days of Music and Sports in Richmond

by Casey | Posted on April 26th, 2012

Growing by leaps and bounds as it enters its fourth year, Dominion Riverrock presented by Subaru is now a three-day festival with even more excitement than in years past.

Dominion Riverrock 2011. Photo by Dena Miller.
Dominion Riverrock 2011. Photo by Dena Miller.

With the beautiful skyline of downtown Richmond as the backdrop, athletes, musicians, and even dogs take center stage in a variety of events on Brown’s Island May 18-20. This is the premier outdoor lifestyle event for the East Coast, and spectators have much to see and experience. It’s a smorgasbord of everything there is to love about Virginia’s outdoors brought right into an urban, river front setting.

New for 2012, Dominion Riverrock will have two stages of live music to highlight more than 20 bands. All concerts are free.

Friday, May 18

  • Slackline Highline Exhibition, 5 p.m.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 1, 5 p.m.
  • Miller Lite Filthy 5K Mud Run, 6 p.m.
  • Native Freestyle Bikes, best trick qualifying, 6-7 p.m.
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Boulder Bash, women’s qualifying, 6-7 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: Zati, 6:30-7 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: DJ Phil Dice, 6:30-7 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Native Freestyle Bikes, best trick finals, 7-8 p.m. – 1st place will receive $1,000
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 2, 7 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: Long Arms, 7:15-8:30 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: The Roots Down, 7:15-8:30 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Boulder Bash, men’s qualifying, 8-9 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: The Travelin’ McCourys featuring Keller Williams, 9-11 p.m. (Brown’s Island)

Dominion Riverrock 2011. Images by Tiet Danny, Caroline Leggett, Cory Brodzinski, Scott and Daniel Lin.
Saturday, May 19

  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 3, 1 p.m.
  • Kayak Boatercross, 1 p.m. – 1st place will receive $450
  • Thule Urban Assault Mountain Bike Race, 1 p.m. – 1st place will receive $400
  • Slackline, qualifying, 1-3 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: The Shack Band, 1-2 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: Everwilde, 1-2 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Boulder Bash, men’s quarterfinals, 1:30-3:10 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: The Bush League, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: The Rift, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 4, 3 p.m.
  • Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Cross, 4 p.m. – 1st place will receive $250
  • FREE CONCERT: The Milkstains, 4-5 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: J3 Project, 4-5 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Boulder Bash, women’s quarterfinals, 4-5:40 p.m.
  • Slackline Highline Exhibition, 5 p.m.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 5, 5 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: The Hot Seats, 5:30-6:3o p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: Grease Trigger, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • James River Scramble 10K Trail Run, 6 p.m. – 1st place will receive $500
  • Native Freestyle Bikes, slopestyle qualifying, 6-7 p.m.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 6, 7 p.m.
  • Slackline, semifinals, 7-8 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: JJ Grey & Mofro, 7-8:30 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: The Air Circus, 7-8 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Boulder Bash, men’s semifinals, 7-8:10 p.m.
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Boulder Bash, women’s semifinals, 8:10-9:20 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: Galactic, 9-10:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 20

  • Slackline Highline Exhibition, 1 p.m.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 7, 1 p.m.
  • Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Enduro, 1 p.m. – 1st place will receive $250
  • Dyno Comp, 1 p.m. – 1st place will receive $500
  • FREE CONCERT: Crucial Elements, 1-2 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: Spaceheaters, 1-2 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Dirt Crit Short Track Mountain Bike Race, 2 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: Beast Wellington, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: Zep Replica, 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Kayak Freestyle, 3 p.m. – 1st place will receive $1,000
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, qualifying, round 8, 3 p.m.
  • Blue Ridge Mountain Sports Boulder Bash, men’s and women’s, 3-4:30 p.m. – 1st place will receive $1,500
  • Slackline, finals, 4 p.m.
  • Ultimate Air Dogs, finals, 4 p.m.
  • FREE CONCERT: Farm Vegas, 4-5 p.m. (Brown’s Island)
  • FREE CONCERT: Skydog, 4-5 p.m. (Tredegar)
  • Native Freestyle Bikes, slopestyle finals, 4:30 p.m. – 1st place will receive $1,200
Richmond Whitewater Rafting
Richmond Whitewater Rafting

Dominion Riverrock is free to spectators. Additionally, recreational kayaks will be available for festival-goers who’d like to give one a try on the canal - free! Likewise, SUP, or Stand Up Paddleboard, can be experienced for free on the canal. A Slacklining area (think tightrope balancing at the circus) will be set up at Tredegar for anyone who has an interest in testing their balance. This, too, is free.

Richmond is the only city that has Class IV whitewater rapids coursing through its limits. Riverside Outfitters invites you to try “Pipeline” – the Class III-IV rapids – on your own whitewater rafting trip. The trips will run every 30 minutes throughout the weekend and will depart from Brown’s Island. Cost is $20 per person.

The Richmond Region
Places to Stay
Places to Eat
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Events, Family, Outdoors | 1 Comment

We’re All Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

by Casey | Posted on March 14th, 2012

ShamROCK N' ROLL in Norfolk

ShamROCK N' ROLL in Norfolk

Even if your blood lacks an ounce of Irish descent, you must admit that it’s hard to fight the fun of St. Patrick’s Day!

For the Family

Roanoke’s Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration and McDonald’s St. Pat’s Parade is one giant festival the whole family will love. Enjoy pipe bands, the Bonniest Knees and Classiest Lass Contests, inflatables, face painting, the Wells Fargo “Buffalo Bill” Stagecoach, Celtic dancers, cloggers, and lots of great music.

For the Athletes

Abingdon plays host to the Shamrock 4-Miler - a brand new run with a great ending – a post-race party with BBQ from Bonefire Smokehouse and beer from Wolf Hills Brewery. Go ahead and dress in your favorite green garb … they’ll be judging.

Down on the Boardwalk of Virginia Beach this weekend’s highlight is the 40th running of the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon. Included is the marathon, half marathon, 8K, and running events for children, too. Post-race parties will include Murphy’s Irish stew and Yuengling, of course!

For the Partiers

Block Party? The merry ol’ section of Norfolk known as Ghent brings you Shamrockin’ in Ghent 2012! Party Friday evening with traditional Irish sounds by local bands, food by Belmont House of Smoke, and various beverages. Wear your green and get your party on.

In Richmond, Shamrock the Block in Shockoe Bottom is the place to be … with 20,000 of your closest friends! It’s a free event, so enjoy the live music, purchase lots o’ food, and choose from plenty o’ frosty beverages. Noon to 6 p.m.

In Norfolk, the AT&T ShamROCK N’ ROLL event includes bagpipers, Irish fair, and all things green. Held at TowneBank Fountain Park at the waterfront, this weekend looks to be perfect for it.

For the Tasters

Nellysford is celebrating at two wineries! Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery invites you for a wine and food pairing. Wear your green and you’ll take home a free logo glass with your purchase. At Wintergreen Winery, the party is on with Irish music, dancing, mayhap a leprechaun, and of course – wine.

A buffet of Irish-inspired delights will be available for your grazing pleasure at the Natural Bridge Hotel, as will Virginia micro-brews and Irish beers. Take a walk beneath the natural wonder of the Bridge itself before the festivities kick off at 3:30 p.m. Or, stay the night for $139/couple.

In Berryville, Veramar Vineyard is breaking out the mischief AND the Blarney Stone. It’s rumored that a leprechaun may be lurking in their parts, too. Expect music, fun, wine, and yummy potato soup.

Irish dancers kick their toes to traditional music while you sip the fine wines of Potomac Point Winery in Stafford. An Irish menu will be offered all weekend long.

A special Irish food and wine pairing awaits you at Fox Meadow Winery in Linden. It’s called Pot of Gold Tasting and includes an elite array of gold medal-winning wines.


Find more St. Patrick’s Day events and family fun on the Events Calendar.

Events, Food and Wine | Comments Off

There are Foodies and There are SEAFoodies

by Casey | Posted on October 20th, 2011

Some crave traditional comfort food, but not you. Your comfort comes from the tides. These festivals are right up your alley and will fill all your seafoodie desires.
Raw Oyster. Credit: Blue Crab Bay Company

Raw Oyster. Credit: Blue Crab Bay Company

Live in Hampton Roads? Enjoy a date night! The City Point Oyster Roast in Newport News is tomorrow evening, October 21, from 5 to 9 pm. More than great Chesapeake Bay oysters, there’s also beer tasting, live music, and a fun scavenger hunt and crafts for kids. Free admission and parking; pay as you go for tastings and food.

Pair your fresh oysters with great Virginia wine when you attend the Oyster Roast at Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery, October 29-30, in Afton. Music by The Cashmere Jungle Lords on Saturday and The Atkinsons on Sunday. Admission includes wine glass and tasting, but not full beverages or oysters.

Deborah Pratt at Cardinal Point Vineyards and Winery

Oyster Shucking Champion Deborah Pratt at Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery. Also see her at the Urbanna Oyster Festival.

The little town of Urbanna takes on a larger-than-life atmosphere every November, and this year is no different. Don’t miss the 54th Annual Urbanna Oyster Festival November 4-5. Plan to bring the whole family and spend quality time with great entertainment like …

  • Fireman’s Parade 
  • More than 125 Vendors
  • Virginia Wine Tasting and Oyster Pairing
  • Queen & Little Miss Spat pageants
  • Oyster Shucking Contest

Oysters will be served up whatever way you care to suck ‘em down: “raw, roasted, fried, smoked, steamed, in fritters, or in stew,” claim the Festival planners. No worries for the wee foodies. There are hot dogs, hamburgers and more for their tiny tummies.

This is a pay-as-you-go festival. Parking is $10 to $20, offsetting festival expenses and supporting the Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation.

You can’t get much more “local” than oysters grown out your backdoor and wine produced mere steps away. Come out November 13 for the Church Creek Chardonnay & Oyster Tasting Extravaganza at Chatham Vineyards in Machipongo. Splurge on unlimited raw bar oyster tasting and a glass of steel-fermented Church Creek Chardonnay. Admission is $20 and by advanced purchase onlyonline or by calling 757-678-5588.

“Eat for a good cause,” that’s what I always say, and you can do just that at the 13th Annual Oyster Roast at the Cape Charles Museum on November 26. Fill your plate with raw or roasted oysters, fried chicken, clam chowder, potato salad, three-bean salad, and homemade rolls and desserts. Mmmm! Beer and wine are available, as is a a 50/50 raffle and silent auction. $30/adult; $10/child aged 7 to 12.

Find more great culinary events at

Fall in Virginia, Food, Food and Wine | Comments Off