Tappahannock locals and those who live in surrounding communities are very lucky. We are lucky to live in an area that is rich in history, where small businesses thrive and where people come to vacation. Just ask someone who’s never feasted on the product of his own crab pot or never laid eyes on a bald eagle. Just ask someone who left town to explore bigger and better things but returned years later because the best of things was right where she left it. Some say these are luxuries only found in small town USA. Others will never know just how lucky we are. Most of us, however, realize that they are unique to the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck area of Virginia where we were born and raised.
A celebration of this good fortune takes place every summer when, much like the circus, RivahFest comes to town! Now in its 11th year, this major event will grace the streets of Historic Downtown Tappahannock on Saturday, June 15th and give both residents and tourists an excuse to praise the best that our area has to offer.
RivahFest appeals to people from all walks of life: the Shopper, the Food Critic, the Kid, the Competitor, the Social Butterfly, the Music Lover, the Humanitarian and many other personality types. Some attendees may stay in specific areas of the festival while others will roam the grounds to soak up any form of entertainment. If you look at the event map, you will find that points of interest overlap and that taking a walk around is well-worth it. We’d hate for you to miss out on all the fun!
For the Shopper and the Food Critic, imagine aisles upon aisles of arts and crafts, goods and services and … food! There are nearly 150 arts and crafts booths, many with Rivah themes in jewelry, pottery, paintings and prints, candles, purses, and so much more. Local businesses and organizations will also exhibit the goods and services that are important to the success and culture of Essex County in the Merchants’ Market. Then, there’s the food. Everything from festival favorites like funnel cakes and freshly squeezed lemonade to Tappahannock staples like southern fried chicken and soft shell crabs. To many, the food is the main attraction so be sure to come on an empty stomach… you won’t regret it!
For the Kid and the Competitor, there is a giant play area with rides, games, art workshops and contests. Undoubtedly one of the more popular areas, the Kids Zone has grown over the years and now not only overtakes St. Margaret’s campus along with its teen-friendly counterpart but has expanded into the playing fields next to Virginia Street. Here, kids and parents equally indulge in the joys brought about by the Celebrity Dunking Booth, Golf Hole in One on the Rivah, Rotary Crab Race and $1,000 Rappahannock River Rubber Duck Race. Let’s not forget also about the Cornhole Tournament, which has raised the bar for our extra-competitive bunch and grows in popularity each year.
For the Social Butterfly and the Music Lover, RivahFest Idol is a must-see event. Join the audience and cheer on your favorite contestants from 11am – noon on the Main Stage as they compete for the ultimate $1,000 prize. With music, comes dancing; and there’s no better place to dance then during a live performance at the Beer and Wine Garden or on the Main Stage. Featured bands and musical groups scheduled for later in the day include the Richmond B2B Band and The Main Event Band. These gatherings are like hitting the jackpot for a social butterfly who is there to mingle and have a good time.
For the Humanitarian, RivahFest not only stimulates the economy but also gives back to the community through cash awards approved by the Grants Committee. In years past, the committee has recognized the following deserving organizations: WRAR Christmas Wishes, Tappahannock Free Clinic, Essex County Little League, Boy Scouts, Haven Shelter, Community Food Bank, Essex Animal Shelter, local chapter of the American Red Cross, Operation Inas¬much and Tappahannock Main Street Program. Thus far in 2013, RivahFest has funded a Tappahannock Waterfront Park project. If your organization wishes to apply for a community grant, visit www.rivahfest.com and select Festival Organization then Giving Back.
For all personality types, take advantage of the easy and free bus shuttle service so that you don’t miss out on RivahFest’s many activities. Other stops to make while walking the streets of Downtown Historic Tappahannock: the Antique and Hot Rod Car Show, the Boat and Maritime Display, the horse-drawn carriage tours and the Captain Thomas River Cruise.
It’s a safe bet that a good majority, maybe 90%, of the readers of this magazine have attended RivahFest at some point over its ten-year reign. Regardless, this summer’s RivahFest is worth checking out because it continues to outdo itself year after year. Join us in celebration of our good fortune as residents of the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck and embrace just how lucky we are to host such a high-energy, jam-packed event that has a little something for everyone and can be matched nowhere else. For more information, visit www.rivahfest.com. Fun starts at 10am!