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Published October 5, 2020

There will be no big top tents or jam-packed stages, but the 2020 Richmond Folk Festival is still happening, and you can attend it along with people all across Virginia in a reimagined, COVID-safe format starting this Friday.

Susan Gaeta and Pat Jarrett during the Sephardic Jewish Music Caravan with the Cuba-America Jewish Mission on 3/31/19. Photo by Jon Lohman/Virginia Humanities

Our Virginia Folklife Program has played an integral role in the Richmond Folk Festival since it’s inception in 2008 and this year is no exception. Virginia Folklife Program acting director Pat Jarrett refers to this virtual format as “the next best thing” to being able to get together in person. Jarrett, who has a decade of experience working as Folklife’s digital media specialist, admits that the unique experience of attending a concert or a festival is difficult to replicate. But he says that tuning in online can serve as a hopeful reminder of “what it’s like to be together, sharing those human intangibles provoked by the sound of live music.”

This optimistic viewpoint has animated Jarrett’s and former Virginia Folklife director Jon Lohman’s approach to reimagining the Virginia Folklife Stage at the Richmond Folklife Festival. Together, they have assembled four-hours of live footage, some of it archival and some of it brand new, from a range of celebrated folk artists. The all-star line-up includes exclusive recordings from gospel singer Cora Harvey Armstrong; bluegrass trio Linda Lay and Springfield Exit; blues band the Sherman Holmes Project; gospel group The Legendary Ingramettes, and more.

Starting Friday, October 9, at 6:30 PM, and lasting through Sunday, October 11, the Richmond Folk Festival will be streamed on live television, radio, and social media platforms, opening the festival up to people who may never have been able to make the trip to Richmond to experience it in person.

You can catch it all on the Virginia Folklife website. More details on how to access the virtual festival, including All Together Now, a two-part television program celebrating Virginia artists, can be found on the Richmond Folk Festival’s website.

Following the festival, the Virginia Folklife Program will launch “Uncovered,” a new virtual streaming series highlighting Virginia performers with previously unseen footage and artist talks. The first episode will feature Linda Lay and Sammy Shelor, two former apprentices in the Master-Apprentice program. Follow Virginia Folklife on Facebook for more.

Vanessa Adkins, right, is apprenticing under her cousin Jessica Canaday Stewart learning the finer points of traditional Chickahominy dancing. Photos taken at the Fall Festival and Pow Wow in Charles City on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.

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