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Inaugural “Festival of the River” Unites RVA Community

The Richmond Symphony hopes this weekend’s Festival of the River will leave behind a sense of community for everyone involved. The 3-day celebration of music, art, and environment takes place on Brown’s Island this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The new event is a way to help celebrate Richmond Symphony’s sixtieth anniversary. “We were looking for something special,” says Anna Strahs Watts, community partnerships manager for the Symphony. The James River was and is a huge part of Richmond. We wanted to make it a celebration of community and the river.”

The celebration kicks off in conjunction with Friday Cheers with a concert featuring the No BS! Brass Band, followed by Grammy Award-winner Rhiannon Giddens performing with the Richmond Symphony.

At dusk, lighting installations by sculptor and artist Jacob Stanley and the 1708 Gallery will bring light to T. Tyler Potterfield and 7th Street Truss Bridges. “They will be lit through the weekend and we should have them up for at least three months,” Strahs Watts says.

Saturday’s events feature performances, activities, and a river cleanup of three sites: Belle Isle, across the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, and east to the Pipeline and 14th Street Bridge. Participants are asked to bring water, gloves, and wear closed-toe shoes. Sunscreen and bug spray are highly encouraged. The James River Park System will provide all cleanup materials.

“We will have twenty-two booths in partnership with Back to the Bay for educational activities for kids and adults,” says Strahs Watts, noting that everyone will get a better understanding of the river and the city. “You’ll also learn about our effect on the environment.”

Later in the evening the Symphony will perform with Tony Award-winning tap dancer Savion Glover under the Big Tent.

Sunday’s events open with a Community Picnic and the creation of a Richmond Community Mosaic Quilt. Everyone is asked to bring a blanket that can be left behind and donated to people in need in the community. Blankets will be given to various organizations such as Caritas, The Doorways, Virginia Supportive Housing, and the SPCA.

All blankets in blue will be set up together to form a river of blankets. The scene will be captured from a drone. Blanket drive information can be found at Art on Wheels.

“People can also volunteer for the Festival. We have opportunities for people to get involved,” Strahs Watts says.

Anyone who wants to volunteer, can contact Strahs Watts at [email protected].

An award-winning writer based in Richmond, Joan Tupponce is a parent, grandparent, and self-admitted Disney freak. She writes about anything and everything and enjoys meeting inspiring people and telling their stories. Joan’s work has appeared in RFM since the magazine’s first issue in October 2009. Look for original and exclusive online articles about Richmond-area people, places, and ideas at Just Joan: RVA Storyteller.

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