Festival of the River is a celebration of art, music, and environment

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-07 17:51:35-04

The Big Tent of the Richmond Symphony.

RICHMOND, Va. –  The Festival of the River is a three-day celebration of community through music, art, and environment that takes place on Brown’s Island, from June 8-10.

The event, established with a coalition of many partners in the Richmond region, will include contemporary art installations, musical performances, cleanups along the river and family-friendly environmental education activities.

The festival gets started with Friday Cheers, which brings local favorites No BS! Brass Band to the stage to open for musician Rhiannon Giddens; both will perform with the Richmond Symphony under the Big Tent. No BS! Brass Band will perform at 6 p.m. and then again at 7 p.m. — with the symphony.

River cleanup volunteers meet on Saturday at 11 a.m., at the Tredegar St. Boat Ramp (sign up here!) After all, it is a festival celebrating the mighty James River, the largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay.

Fittingly, the festival runs right into Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, a special week designated by legislation to help raise the importance of the Bay.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will host the Festival of the River’s environmental hallmark event, with Back to the Bay! held from 2 to 7 p.m. at Brown’s Island.

The concept is that what we do on the land that drains to the Bay is as equally important to its health as water stewardship.

A garden labyrinth installed by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay at BInford Middle School.

There will be numerous environmental activities and a challenge to participate in all of them. Pick up a passport and get it stamped at every booth, to redeem for free visit to any Virginia state park.

Head to the Alliance tent to see the mock rain garden and learn which native Virginia plants are best to plant in one, and how a rain garden improves water quality.

Kids are invited to paint on the rain barrels provided by the Richmond City Department of Utilities.

At 5 p.m., Alliance employees will detail how to take water quality samples along Brown’s Island.

“I hope that we see thousands of people come out and engage in environmental activities so that they have a greater connection with the James River and how it connects with the Bay,” said Nissa Dean, Executive Director the Alliance’s Virginia branch.

Music under the Big Tent gets started at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, with a performance by Sweet Potatoes. Saturday’s headliner is Tony-Award winning tap dancer Savion Glover performing with the Richmond Symphony.  See below for the full music schedule.

At dusk on both Friday and Saturday, lighting Installations by Jacob Stanley and the 1708 Gallery will take place on the T. Tyler Potterfield and 7th Street Truss bridges.

Come hungry on day three of the festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and starts with a community picnic with Art on Wheels. Bring a lunch (or food trucks will be present) and a blanket to donate for Richmond Housing service organizations.

So, come, listen to the river sing sweet songs. You don’t even have to pitch a tent – the Richmond Symphony will take care of that for you.

Don’t even ask about beer and food trucks. Come on. Of course there will be beer and food for sale.

To ensure that the festival is open and accessible to every member of the community, the tickets for Saturday and Sunday are free. Patrons are asked to consider a donation of $5 per ticket to help offset the cost of the event.


Friday, June 8
Friday Cheers from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

• 6 p.m. – No BS! Brass Band
• 7 p.m. – No BS! Brass Band with the Richmond Symphony
• 8 p.m. – Rhiannon Giddens performing with the Richmond Symphony

At dusk – Lighting Installations by Jacob Stanley and the 1708 Gallery on the T. Tyler Potterfield and 7th Street Truss Bridges.

Saturday, June 9
2 to 9 p.m.

  • 11 a.m. – Region-wide cleanups along the James River and Chesapeake Bay Watershed
  • 2 p.m. – Island officially opens to public with Back to the Bay, family-friendly and educational activities in celebration of Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week.
  • 2:45 p.m. – Sweet Potatoes Performance under the “Big Tent”
  • 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Performances by Contemporary Artists presented as part of VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art’s opening exhibition Declaration, in collaboration with the Richmond Symphony and Sound Arts Richmond
  • 3 p.m. — Hope Ginsburg, East End Bay Scape
  • 4 p.m. — Marinella Senatore, on Brown’s Island and under the “Big Tent”
  • 3 to 6:30 p.m. –-Guided Walking Tours gathering at the Brown’s Island entrance to the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge:
    • 3 to 4:15 p.m.: Capital Trees
    •  3:45 to 4:30 p.m.: The Valentine
    •  4:30 to 5:15 p.m.: American Civil War Museum
    •  5:30 to 6:30 p.m.: James River Park System
  • 3:45 p.m. – Oyster Shucker Deborah Pratt under the “Big Tent”
  • 5:30 p.m. — Paul Rucker, under the “Big Tent
  • 6 p.m. — Charles Owens Quartet under the “Big Tent”
  • 7:30 p.m. –Richmond Symphony performing with tap-dancing phenomenon, Savion Glover and the Richmond Symphony Chorus under the “Big Tent”

Sunday, June 10
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • 11 a.m. – Island officially opens to public with a Community Picnic with Art on Wheels
    • Create a ‘Richmond Community Mosaic Quilt’ on Brown’s Island
    • Bring Your Own Blanket, Blanket Drive information:
    • Aerial photography will capture images of the mosaic quilt
  • 11:15 a.m. — Host of Sparrows Aerial Circus with Glass Twin
  • 1 p.m. – Richmond Symphony Family Concert

Click here to read more about the event partners and the Richmond Symphony performance programs. 

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