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10 Richmond Festivals You Can't Miss

By Beth Anne Spacht

June 8, 2015

With summertime in full swing, Richmond is heating up with local events featuring the culinary and cultural flavors of homegrown RVA. From the Richmond Jazz Festival (one of the largest on the East Coast) and Riverrock (the nation’s premier outdoor sports and music festival) to the Greek Festival and Broad Appetite (arguably, the local foodie favorite), there’s never a shortage of things to do all year long in the great city of Richmond, VA.

Of course, if there’s one common denominator between any and all Richmond events, it’s definitely the incredible things to eat. One of the perks of living in a city with over 900 restaurants is the ability to taste test your way through some amazing culinary creations at almost every stop. To help you discover the best of the River City, I’ll get you started with a roadmap to my favorite Richmond festival foods and when/where you can find them.

Richmond Bacon Festival - June
Featured food: Bacon Ice Cream
Everything is better with bacon. At least that’s what Richmonders say each summer as they stroll around the annual Bacon Festival at the 17th Street Farmers Market, munching on a feast of bacon and cheese fritters, candied bacon, bacon corn muffins and other bacon-centric concoctions from over 40 local vendors.

Carytown Watermelon Festival - August
Featured Food: Watermelon Smoothie
Fire jugglers, local craft vendors, live bands, and big bowls of watermelon (for $1) come together to make this annual Richmond festival a local favorite. One of the most walkable events due to its location on the “Mile of Style” that is Carytown, this family-friendly festival is the perfect incentive for New Spiders to arrive early for pre-orientation.

Richmond Folk Festival – October
Featured Food: Boka Food Truck (Asian-Mexican-American fusion tacos)
What began as a traveling, three-year festival to 28 different spots in America, the Richmond Folk Festival has found its permanent home at the Downtown Richmond Riverfront. This free event spans three full days of music, art and culture featuring everything from Dominican merengue and West African highlife to American bluegrass and the Indian slide guitar.

French Film Festival - March    
Featured Food: Coq Au Vin at Can Can
Co-sponsored by the University of Richmond and VCU, Richmond is home to one of the largest film festivals on the east coast. Based at the historic Byrd Theater in Carytown – a silent theater from the golden age of cinema – this three-day festival introduces more than 400 French and francophone films to American audiences. In 2003, it was even recognized by the French Ambassador to the U.S. as “the most important French film festival in the country.”

Shamrock the Block - March
Featured Food: Bangers and Mash from Keagan’s
Break out your best shade of green and head on over to The Boulevard (the area of Richmond home to our minor league baseball team, The Flying Squirrels) for food, fun, and live music. This pet-friendly Richmond festival features food trucks and shamrocks for festival goers of all ages.

Richmond Greek Festival - May
Featured Food: Loukoumades (deep-fried honey cinnamon dough puffs)
The Richmond Greek Festival celebrated its 40th year this May. One of Richmond’s favorites, the Greek Festival boasts traditional food, dancing and music, alongside an International Bazaar with beautiful art, jewelry and treasures. The popularity of its delicious gyros and kabobs has grown so exponentially over the years that there’s even a drive-thru arranged for food-on-the-go!

Riverrock Outdoor Festival – May
Featured Food: Mountain Tropp Quinoa Bowl - Goatocado Food Truck
Designed to feature downtown Richmond’s unique urban riverfront, Riverrock is the nation’s largest outdoor sports and music festival. Located on Brown’s Island, Riverrock is where outdoor enthusiasts, athletes, and spectators come together to enjoy trail running, a 5k Mud Run, whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, bouldering, slacklining, paddle boarding, and even a dog-jumping competition (look it up!); all to the backdrop of fresh food and live music.

Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont Park - August
Featured Food: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Peach Tripel (okay, that’s a drink).
Regarded as a world-class jazz event – one of the largest on the East Coast – the Richmond Jazz Festival is known by music aficionados as the premier destination for some of the nation’s best jazz, funk, and blues. The lively atmosphere of creative tunes and classy cuisine takes place amid the beautiful gardens of the Maymont Mansion and Park, a local Richmond gem.

Broad Appetite - June
Featured Food: Everything.
Looking for a great introduction to the best local restaurants our city has to offer? Look no further than Broad Appetite. For $3 a plate you can snack your way down Broad Street sampling everything from Sticky Rice’s pork belly steam buns to Shyndigz chocolate salted caramel layer cake to Mama J’s classic southern trio of catfish, greens, and sweet potatoes. Not to mention live music, local vendors, and of course – food upon food upon food.

RVA First Friday Art Walk – All year
Featured Food: Chipotle BBQ Pork Sandwich - Richmond on Broad Café
First Fridays RVA is a year-round art walk featuring the shops, galleries, restaurants, and organizations in the Arts District of Richmond. Get started with a free shuttle from campus to UR Downtown, where you can begin your exploration of vibrant galleries and original works from local artists throughout the City of Richmond. Best of all, you can use your meal plan to pick up a quick bite to eat from Richmond on Broad Café to power your night!

Excited about the Richmond region? Check out this video to learn more!

Tags: Richmond - the City

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Tom NicholasTom Nicholas
Senior Assistant Director of Admission 

A Richmond alumnus (Class of 2007), Tom has been working and blogging for the Office of Admission since he graduated. He loves his alma mater and the city that shares its name.

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Beth Anne SpachtBeth Anne Spacht
Assistant Director of Admission

Beth Anne was a double major at Richmond (English and Latin American & Iberian Studies) and now enjoys helping prospective students discover the best of her alma mater.

Learn more about Beth Anne

The University of Richmond is a highly ranked liberal arts university offering an extraordinary combination of the liberal arts with law, business, leadership studies, and continuing education. The university is consistently named a best value in higher education by leading publications.

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