Venture Richmond cancels festivals

6/18/2020, 6 p.m.
October will come and go in Richmond without two of its largest people-attracting events, the 2nd Street Festival and the ...

October will come and go in Richmond without two of its largest people-attracting events, the 2nd Street Festival and the Richmond Folk Festival.

Venture Richmond announced Tuesday it has canceled this year’s editions of the back-to-back free festivals that have dominated the first two weekends of October, though it hopes to offer “virtual” programming of some kind.

The Downtown marketing and promotion group ex- plained the cancellation is because of the “unpredictable and ongoing threat posed by the spread of COVID-19.”

Venture Richmond, which was in the midst of preparations, described the cancellation as a necessary precaution “for the safety of our patrons, volunteers, artists and staff.”

The announcement came in a statement from Ven- ture Richmond that included the message, “Music and culture bring RVA together. This year, we’ll be together in spirit.”

The scheduled Oct. 3-4 event would have been the 32nd edition of the 2nd Street Festival that celebrates the heyday of Jackson Ward as a business, social and economic center of Richmond’s black community. With fair weather, the event has attracted 60,000 people dur- ing two days.

The only item of the festival that will remain intact is the poster. Local artist Unicia R. Buster, who was commissioned to do the festival poster, said her commission remains in force. She said Venture Richmond told her to complete the work, which will be posted online and on social media.

The festival and its music is now slated to return Oct. 2-3, 2021, Venture Richmond noted.

The Richmond Folk Festival, which can draw up to 220,000 people, has filled the second weekend of October since 2005, and was set to go on Oct. 9-11 this year. The three-day event is now scheduled to return Oct. 8-10, 2021.

The festival celebrates the music and culture of groups from across the country and around the world.

Venture Richmond said the decision was “not reached easily,” but could not wait until the last minute. “Developments related to state, national and international events in 2020 made it clear that as the organizer of these two free, large-scale community festivals, the necessary health precautions cannot be taken with radically changing the nature and scope of the events.”

Still, Venture Richmond is trying to find some way to create community gatherings on those weekends, though details are still being worked out.

“We are working with our sponsors and partners to determine the most meaningful and safe way we can bring the community together, even if only virtually,” the organization stated, promising further announcements.