With more than 30,000 students, it’s no surprise that Virginia Commonwealth University is a major part of the Richmond community. It’s paired with the private sector on everything from public health to the arts, but the most prominent Virginia Commonwealth University events are ones that take place in and around campus and welcome students and members of the public. Here’s a guide to some of the most popular annual and recurring events on and around campus.
Every September, VCU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs partners with the nonprofit Virginia Pride on PrideFest, which is held on Brown’s Island in Richmond. This free, day-long event, attended by more than 5,000 people every year, includes musical performances, a drag show, and DJs spinning club music. Entertainment geared toward children and adolescents is presented on the Youth Pride Stage, including a poetry slam, stand-up comedy, bands, a lip sync battle, and a dance party. Food trucks, an off-leash dog park, vendors, and field games round out the fun.
Broad Street Mile
The Monroe Park Campus, a few miles away from VCU’s main campus, hosts the VCU Broad Street Mile every September. It’s a combination street festival and 5K run as well as a one-mile fun run and a doggy dash that serves as a fundraiser for the university as well as local 501(c)(3) organizations. More than 60 vendors typically have a presence at the street festival, which takes place on Broad Street between Belvidere Street and Hermitage Road. When it comes to Virginia Commonwealth University events, this is one of the more prominent ones.
The Richmond Vegetarian Festival
Held every June in Bryan Park, not far from VCU’s campus, the Richmond Vegetarian Festival aims to educate the public on the vegetarian lifestyle and celebrate the wonders of being meatless. More than 12,000 people attend this free event every year to sample dishes from some of the city’s most popular vegetarian restaurants, as well as learn about animal advocacy, the health benefits of the vegetarian diet, and be entertained by magicians, musicians, and even belly dancers.
Arts in the Park
Every May, more than 400 artists and artisans from all over the community, region, and country gather in Byrd Park to show their works to the public as part of Arts in the Park. A wide variety of mediums are on display (and on sale) at the event, which happens to be one of the oldest events in Richmond, dating back to the mid-1970s. Mediums include woodworking, ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, and textile arts. Arts in the Park is a real point of pride for Richmond — it’s a juried, nationally rated show, and it’s known as one of the top arts events in the U.S. Many of the participants are graduates of VCU's arts programs.
Richmond Folk Festival
There are ordinary folk festivals, then there’s the Richmond Folk Festival. Held every October, this free event draws more than 200,000 people to Downtown Richmond’s Riverfront for three days of lively music and dancing. Expect more than just folk music — you can also catch funk, rockabilly, African-American gospel music, zydeco, blues, Cajun, fiddling, orchestral music, and much more. This multi-stage event has a youth stage, where kids can watch puppetry and youth performances. Cooking demonstrations, including an oyster shucking seminar, are also planned.