Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

The weather is still kind of crappy and cold, and most of the snow is melted.  If you are looking for something holiday-related that is inside, warm, affordable, and kid-friendly, then this is perfect for you.  The Greenberg Train & Toy Show is at Richmond International Raceway today & tomorrow (Dec. 18-19) 10-4pm both days.  This show started back in 1976 and is the largest traveling model train show in the Northeast.

There will of course be many different train displays with incredibly intricate scenery that both kids and adults will love.  There will also be workshops, train demonstrations, and trains and accessories for sale.  For the kids that can’t stand to just watch the trains, there will also be a much larger train for them to ride.

Tickets are $7 for ages 12 and above.  All kids under age 12 are free.  Tickets are good for both days and should hold you over until the next snow storm.


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In keeping with the ever-expanding holiday spirit, this Friday is Richmond’s 26th Annual Grand Illumination.  In the past I have stayed at a distance to avoid the traffic, but this year, with a shiny new parking space right in the thick of things, I am ready to join the countdown.  This is really the kick off to the holiday season in Richmond so holiday events will be non-stop from here on in.

At 5:59pm, Santa will begin the countdown to light up all the downtown office buildings, the James Center tree, and all the beautiful James Center reindeer at 6pm sharp.  They have been hard at work for weeks placing all the reindeer and decorating inside the James Center.  It will definitely be beautiful.  Richmond isn’t going to miss out on a chance to turn this into a street festival, so there will also be blocks of family entertainment including live music, the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Richmond Ballet, various characters from The Nutcracker, the Snow Queen, and the Virginia Piedmont and Central HO Model Railroad Club.  Radio Disney will also be there to keep the kids entertained (as if the twinkling lights aren’t enough).  Although the Grand Illumination itself will run from 6pm-7pm, much of downtown Richmond has gotten in on the act and there will be free and discounted activities until 9pm.

From 6-10pm (on Friday AND Saturday) there will be free horse and carriage rides around the historic River district (these are usually $10/person).  A 12-passenger holiday decorated carriage will carry families around Shockoe Slip & Shockoe Bottom.  All rides start and end at the fountain at 13th and E. Cary Streets and last approximately 20 minutes. 

Make sure you don’t miss out on the $2 canal rides while you are in the area (ages 4 and under are free).  Canal rides are being offered at this discounted rate from 6-9pm on Friday.  Rides last approximately 20 minutes and provide an awesome view of the lights and the city.  There will be a marching band in the area providing live music, and rumor has it Santa may even take a boat ride or two.  Boats leave from the Turning Basin at 14th st. and Dock St.

Main Street Station will also be offering holiday activities during Grand Illumination.  Their holiday open house, with a Polar Express (the children’s christmas movie) theme will be held from 5-9pm.  There will be a tree lighting, decorations, and free kiddie train rides, hot cider & cookies, and live music.  There will also be professional storytellers to read to the children (am I the only one that thinks this could be the best job ever??) by the fireplace.  The Richmond public library will even “gift” a free book to the first 300 children in attendance.   

Finally, if you didn’t finish all your holiday shopping on Black Friday, there will be a holiday market at the 17th Street Farmer’s market from 5-9pm featuring homemade crafts, gifts, music, snacks, cider, and Mr. & Mrs. Santa  Claus!

Main illumination festivities are held in front of James Center 2 (by the clock tower) and down into Shockoe Bottom.  Discounted parking is available after 4pm at the parking deck on the corner of 10th and Canal St. for $3.  There will also be $2 parking available at Main Street Station on the West Side using the Franklin St. entrance.  This promises to be a huge holiday event so if you aren’t lucky enough to attend, and you work downtown, count on escaping around 4pm on Friday if you want to make it home before 10pm.  Otherwise, stay and enjoy!


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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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Well, it wouldn’t be a summer weekend in Richmond without another food festival.  This weekend it is the St. Joseph’s Italian Festival.  You can expect to see all the main staples:  pizza, pasta, meatballs, & sausage.  There will also be plenty of Italian desserts including gelati and cannolis.  You can wash all that down with Italian beers, wines, and sodas.  For entertainment there will be live music and dance performers.  I love the other fun activities that are planned like pizza tossing exhibitions, face painting, and children’s games.  There are exhibits for the adults as well (I’m not going to deny that I love the pizza tossing too!) like cultural videos and photography.  Something I haven’t seen at other festivals, there will be a culture room with a steady schedule of cultural videos and exhibits.  Dominic Pulera, an Italian-American author, will also be there to discuss his works and sign books.  You can get the full schedule for the cultural room here.  Don’t forget your wallet because there will be plenty of vendors selling Italian crafts as well.   

The festival is held Saturday and Sunday, June 12-13, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bon Air.  Directions are available here.  The festival runs from 11am-8pm on.  Admission to the festival is free and so is parking, but there is of course a cost for food and drinks.  Proceeds go to benefit the Sons of Italy.  This is definitely a family friendly event so take the kids and enjoy.  

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Richmond has some fantastic farmers’ markets in the spring, but the 17th Street Farmers Market in Shockoe Bottom is the most well-known.   This farmers’ market is one of the oldest public markets in America.  It is located at the corner of 17th and Main downtown, in Shockoe Bottom.   

This location has been a public gathering place since 1737.  It has always been a popular site for business because of its proximity to the river, its location on Main Street (which served as the main road between Richmond and Williamsburg), and its proximity to nearby Shockoe Creek (which was used by small boats bringing shellfish into the city).  When the Virginia General Assembly officially moved to Richmond in 1779, an actual “public market” was established.

By 1854, the Farmer’s Market had grown so much that a larger market building, called the First Market House, was built on the corner of Main and 17th Streets. During the Civil War, this house was a gathering place for Confederate soldiers and later as a barracks for Union Troops. Throughout history, people visited the house to listen to political speeches and attend religious revival meetings.

In the mid-1900’s supermarkets became more popular and many farmers left to work at factories.  In 1961, the First Market House was torn down and the Farmers’ Market was turned into scattered vendor stalls.  Today the 17th Street Farmers’ Market is still located at the corner of 17th and Main Streets in the same open-air structure that was built in the mid 1980’s.    

Today, the market is open Thursday (8:30-4pm), Friday (5-9pm), Saturday (9-4pm) and  Sunday (9-4pm).  Thursdays and Saturdays are the Growers Markets where you can find locally & organically grown produce, cheeses, eggs, meats, and baked goods.  There are usually vendors selling locally made crafts, handbags, and  handmade clothing, as well.  On Fridays you will also find regionally-produced wines and micro-brews at the Market.  On Sundays the focus is locally made crafts and antiques. 
The Market is located in the heart of Shockoe Bottom in a great location to spend a day.  The Shockoe Community Garden is right next door as are several very popular restaurants such as Havana 59 and Lulus.  Juleps and Bottoms Up aren’t too far away either.  The Market is family-friendly as well.  My daughter’s preschool used to take field trips there to buy fresh vegetables and then take them back for cooking projects.  The kids loved it.  The popularity of the market has waned recently with new markets popping up on Monument Ave, South of the River, and the West End.  But there is only one original Farmers’ Market.  The market usually runs from April-October, although Friday’s market doesn’t start until June 4th this year.  Free parking is available at the 18th and Grace Street lot during open market hours.  This is the true definition of buying local, so do it!  Your taste buds will thank you.

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The Shops at Libbie & Grove is the “Carytown” of the West End.  The shops are located right where you would expect, at the intersection of Libbie Ave. and Grove Ave.  The quaint shopping district is made up of locally-owned boutiques, restaurants, antique stores, art galleries, jewelry stores, a movie theater, and other small businesses.  For a complete list of businesses and stores, click here.

This Saturday is a fantastic reason to visit the Shops at Libbie & Grove and support the SPCA.  Saturday from 10-3pm is the annual Paws on the Avenue event.  There will be pet adoptions, activities for kids and shopping of course.  Participating merchants (look for the blue and green balloons) will donate up to 10% of sales to the Richmond SPCA.  For a complete list of participating merchants, click here

Waggles the Richmond SPCA Humane Education mascot will be leading crafts and other activities for kids in the SunTrust parking lot at Maple and Grove.  If you or your kids go soft when homeless animals are around, then watch out for the Tail Wag’N adoption vehicle which will be there in an attempt to find new homes for all their adorable pets.  Doody Calls and Aussie Mobile Pet Grooming will also be there collecting pet food, blanket, and toy donations near Hampton House.  

Many of the shops will be selling special items for the event:  Carreras Jewelers will have animal-themed charms and bracelets, Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe will sell homemade dog biscuits, and Levy’s will have a “fashion show” of their “Amore Dei Cani” (Love of Dogs) Spring accessory line. 

The best part about this event, aside from the shopping of course, is the pets.  I don’t need to tell you how much Richmonders love their pets.  Pets will be welcome on Saturday on the sidewalks, restaurant patios, and inside many of the participating merchants.  Go, Shop, and support a great cause!  The event is rain or shine, and there is a possibility of rain, so don’t forget the umbrella. 

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Ok, so this event doesn’t actually start until the 16th, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to plan since advance tickets are cheaper.  The Southern Women’s Show is one of the largest consumer events in Richmond.  It will be held April 16-18 at the Richmond Raceway Complex.  The show is 3 days of activity tailored especially for women.  Activities include fashion shows, cooking demonstrations, beauty tips, health screenings, decorating ideas and personal growth opportunities, as well as celebrity appearances.  There will be plenty of contests and giveaways ranging from Arby’s gift cards to trips to a $3000 gift package from Short Pump Town Center. 

There will be over 250 exhibitors present.  Don’t think this is going to be a room full of jewelry, pampered chef, and Mary Kay (not that that is a bad thing!).  Vendors will include health practitioners, security companies, car dealers, home renovation companies, and more.  Shopping is a large part of this event (of course!) but it also an interactive event and attendees will have the opportunity to try out new products, services, and consult with experts. 

Celebrity Appearances this year are slated to include 1) CouponQueeny – Featured on various news outlets for her money-saving tips; 2) Sue Whitney – Appearances on HGTV and Today Show speaking about how to transform junk to treasure; and 3) Beth Pedison Gibson – Former Director of Presidential Writers for President George W. Bush and now a stay-at-home mom of twin one-year-olds in a small town in Virginia.  There are supposed to be some celebrity chefs as well.   

There will be plenty of food and a wine garden sponsored by James River Cellars.  Notable Richmonders that are supposed to be there include the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Martins Grocery (not really a Richmonder yet, but they are trying), The Dekatta Group (a local dance/modeling group), James River Wine Cellars, Henrico County Firefighters (putting on a fashion show), and RichmondMom.com. 

Admission is: $9 at the door, $5 for youth ages 6–12, free for youth under age 6 (with paying adult).  Advance Tickets are: $7 at participating Panera locations, $8 online at http://www.southernwomenshows.com. Friends 4 Pack: 4 tickets for $28; 5 tickets for $32 (additional tickets $7 each).  Parking is free at the Raceway Complex.  My suggestion is to go Friday, that leaves the weekend open because there is tons of stuff going on in Richmond this weekend!  Enjoy and Happy Shopping!

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