Second Place: Friday Cheers
Third Place: Dominion Riverrock
The three-day Richmond Folk Festival is more of a global, world roots fest that brings a huge and diverse crowd down to the banks of the James River. When the weather is perfect, like it was in 2015, the crowds for the free event swell to more than 200,000 for the weekend — and that means more donation bucket money for quality performers at the next festival. This running hit draws many hard-working local volunteers, wonderful music and an underlying theme of inclusiveness. Venture Richmond’s popular Friday Cheers, held on Brown’s Island in early summer, is a thriving music series that catches some amazing acts on their way up, from Alabama Shakes and Lake Street Dive to indie artists like this summer’s Kurt Vile and locals Natalie Prass and Lucy Dacus. And Dominion Riverrock in late May is a bustling, family-friendly, outdoor sports and music festival — and a great place to take photos of leaping dogs.