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Posts Tagged ‘Carytown’

It’s another busy weekend in Richmond this weekend so if you are one of the few that aren’t leaving town, there will be plenty to enjoy.  I’m not just talking about tax fee school shopping (I mean come on, are we really supposed to get excited about that?  How about tax-free flat screen tv weekend?) I’m talking about street festivals.  That’s right.  If you haven’t had your fill yet, or you are just joining the living and haven’t been to a Richmond street festival yet, then this weekend is for you.  The biggest is sure to be the Carytown Watermelon Festival, a now 27-yr old Richmond tradition.  This festival has become one of the largest on the East Coast and if the weather holds out, I’m sure this one won’t disappoint.  This festival regularly brings in over 100,000 visitors so be prepared for the crowds.  It is scheduled for Sunday, August 8 from 10-6pm (in Carytown of course).   

I swear I should just cut and paste this, but of course there will be live music with approximately 80 performers stationed around Carytown.  There will also be hundreds of vendors selling various wares, arts & crafts, food, and drinks.  There is no alcohol sold at the festival, but local restaurants will still be serving so you aren’t totally out of luck.  Be sure to try a watermelon cocktail if you can find one!  There will also be plenty of watermelon (of course).  Watermelon stands are scattered around the festival with 2500 watermelons donated by Martin’s Grocery Stores.  Proceeds from the watermelon sales go to benefit the Shriner’s Hospital so don’t forget to buy!

Kids are welcome, but if they are little you will probably want to bring a stroller (crowds+heat+walking = miserable kids & parents).  This festival has one of the largest kids’ zones of any festival around.  Furry kids are welcome as well (that would be dogs of course) but don’t forget leashes.  This year AAA will be raffling off a trip to Disney World which will include airfare, lodging, and park tickets.  With Disney’s recent rate increases (have they not heard about the recession?) you could buy like 600 raffle tickets and still save money on the trip if you win.  

Admission to the festival is free of course, but don’t leave the wallet home if you want food, drink, or anything else you didn’t bring with you.  Parking promises to be a major pain.  You can park on the street or in the side street decks, but I’m sure those will fill up very quickly.  Some of the local stores will let you park as will the University of Richmond stadium, but be prepared to walk.  Be sure to wear your walking shoes, sunscreen, and bring plenty of water to drink.  Baby wipes for all that sticky watermelon juice would probably help out too.   As you are walking, don’t forget to check out all the watermelon-themed window displays.  You can vote for your favorite on the Carytown website.  For a map of the entire festival (and to find the quickest way to the closest watermelon stand) click here.  If this all sounds too overwhelming, drop by early or late to get your fill and get out, but you can’t miss this awesome Richmond tradition.

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I apologize for disappearing yesterday.  We had some technical issues and some 6 yr old issues, but its all good for you because now you are getting 2 posts for the price of one.  This is a busy weekend in Richmond so I’ve got a lot to post about.  Today, I thought I would stick with an old favorite (and no, it’s not just because I’m trying to eat healthy and I’m starving!)  — Carytown Burgers and Fries.  CB&F is located right at the beginning (or end, depending on how you look at it) of Carytown, across from Ukrops (which is now Martins).  Its in the CVS parking lot (the old one, not the new one).  Ok, I get that this is confusing so let me just give you the address:  3500 1/2 W. Cary Street Richmond, VA 23221.  Its right near 195 and honestly, isn’t that what we all have navigation systems or iPhones for?  But I digress. 

Carytown Burgers and Fries can be summed up in one word, delicious.  It won Best Burger in Town from 2000-2005 in Richmond Magazine, Richmond.com, and Style Magazine.  It was also listed as one of the “50 Best Food Finds in Richmond” by Richmond Magazine.  There is definitely something for everyone here.  You can see the entire menu here.  Some of the burger highlights include the Blue Cheese Burger, Hawaiian Burger (Pineapple, jalapeno, Swiss & bacon), The Greek Geek (tzitziki sauce, Feta, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, and onion), and Pancho Villa (guacamole, salsa, and sour cream).  For the traditionalists, there are also the regular hamburger, cheeseburger, and a turkey burger. 

The menu goes much deeper than burgers and includes chicken, hot dogs, fries, chili, fish & chips, desserts, milkshakes, and even salads.  There is also a kids menu and a great Vegetarian menu.  The things that are legendary and you don’t want to miss include the Blue Cheese Burger, Cheese Fries, and the chili.  The burgers are big and cooked to order.  Nothing is pre-cooked so don’t go if you are in a hurry.  All burgers are served on a sesame seed bun with the works:
Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Mustard, Mayo and Pickles.

The service is, well, eclectic, and has reportedly gone down over the past couple of years.  I honestly haven’t noticed any difference.  Just keep your eye on the end-game, a delicious burger and fries.  The only inside seating is a small room upstairs.  Most of the seating is on the outside patio.  In the winter it is enclosed with space heaters. Its a great place to fuel up before you take on Carytown, or to wind down after a day of shopping.  Be sure to comment on what your favorite burger is!

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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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