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Posts Tagged ‘Byrd’

Many people consider Arts in the Park to be one of the great Richmond traditions.  It has been held here for the past 30 years and brings together artists from all over the country.  Arts in the Park was originally started by the Carillon Civic Association as a neighborhood project designed to draw the diverse community closer together.  It began in 1971 with 131 artists and has grown to over 450 artists.  The event is exactly how it sounds, various art displays are placed throughout the Carillon in Byrd Park.  Art Displays include fine art paintings, jewelry, woodwork, weavings and glass. Art will also be available for purchase. Arts in the Park is one of the top art shows in the country and has been listed as one of the top 200 art shows in America. 

Arts in the Park takes place on the mall and in the shady areas of Byrd Park surrounding the Carillon.  The Carillon neighborhood is located west of Byrd Park, just north of the James River. It was originally developed in the 1920s, and features Georgian, Dutch, Tudor and modern tri-level homes.  The Carillon is also home to Dogwood Dell, an outdoor amphitheater and the Carillon Tower.   The Tower is a 240 foot high World War I War Memorial that was built by John Taylor Bell Founders of England. The Tower now has fifty-three bells and is played on special occasions, usually on veteran-related holidays.  

Arts in the Park is still sponsored by the Carillon Civic Association and is run every year solely by neighborhood volunteers.  Last year’s proceeds went to fixing up the Tot Lot in the Carillon and were donated to Richmond-based non-profits like SPARC and the Richmond symphony.  This year’s event will be held Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Unfortunately, no pets are allowed.  Parking is going to be a huge pain when you consider general park traffic (the weather is supposed to be beautiful) and Maymont is right next door.  Either way, be prepared to walk.  There will be free parking at the U of R stadium with shuttle service as well. 

The Carillon is surrounded by Byrd Park  (featured earlier) and there are plenty of opportunities to picnic, walk, and enjoy the day before and after the festival. The weather is supposed to be beautiful so Richmonders, enjoy getting your art on and supporting our city!

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The 18th Annual French Film Festival runs today and tomorrow (Sunday, March 28th) at The Byrd Theater.  This festival is recognized by the French film industry as one of the most important and unique film festivals.  It is currently the largest French festival in existence. 

It began in 1993, the creation of Drs. Peter and Francoise Kirkpatrick, professors of French Literature and Culture at VCU and UR.  The film festival strives to expose the community to films that have been overlooked and not released by American distributors.  One exciting feature is that all films are presented by their actual directors and/or starring actors who also conduct question-and-answer sessions after each showing. 

There are still several showings left today and more tomorrow.  Click here for the schedule.  The cost for tickets/passes varies according to your level of participation.  Individual movie tickets are $15 at The Byrd box office before each show.  If you are brave, you can even try to eat at Can Can before or after the show for a full French experience, although I imagine the wait will be extraordinary without reservations.  This a great way to take in some Richmond culture (at the Byrd in Carytown) and some French culture at the same time.  Enjoy!

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I picked The Byrd Theater for my first activity because I was just there with my kids last weekend to see Princess and the Frog (a great movie if you haven’t already seen it).  I’ve been going to The Byrd since college (we won’t discuss how long that is, but just trust me, its a long time) and to be sitting there still, now with my own children, was almost surreal. 

The Byrd Theater was built in 1928 in what is now known as Carytown.  It is both a State and National Historic Landmark.  In 2007, The Byrd was purchased by The Byrd Theater Foundation with the express purpose of restoring and preserving the theater as a vital community resources.  It currently functions as a “second-run” movie theater, selling tickets for only $1.99.  The theater is open 365 days a year with shows running usually at 7:15 and 9:30, with an additional show at 4:30 on weekends.  The box office only opens 1/2 hour before the show and the lines are long so be sure to get there early.  Its also cash only, although there is now an ATM machine in the lobby. 

In addition to $1.99 movies, The Byrd has hosted the French Film Festival, Virginia Independent Film Festival, fundraisers for various charities, sing-a-long versions of the Wizard of Oz and Its a Wonderful Life, visits with Santa, and more.  The theater is also available for event rentals and is even used for weddings and receptions. 

Visiting The Byrd, is truly an experience that goes beyond the beautiful interior and architectural details.  The staff dresses in vintage clothing, the seats are original (trust me on this, some people bring their own cushions), and on Saturday nights guests are treated to the Mighty Wurlitzer.  No, this is not a hazing ritual.  The Mighty Wurlitzer is a theater organ that was custom-made and installed when the theater was built.  It was designed as a “one man orchestra” to accompany silent movies.  There is nothing like watching that organ rise up from the orchestra pit and listening to the whole theater get into the music.  I’m pretty sure my kids liked it more than the movie. 

The Byrd is now undergoing a major fundraising effort to fund a much-needed restoration of the theater.  The foundation needs approximately $5 million dollars to complete all the needed renovations.  People can donate here.  The Byrd is a vital part of Richmond “culture” and it would be devastating to lose it, so give generously!

So, in conclusion, if you have never been to The Byrd, or want a true Richmond experience, this is the place to go.  Its family friendly (depending on the movie of course), budget-friendly, and it doesn’t hurt that it is right next to Coppola’s Deli and across the street from Bev’s Ice Cream, but that is another post.  Thanks for reading our inaugural activity and I hope you keep coming back for more!

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