The Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival returns to Central Virginia on April 8th and 9th at Meadow Event Park in Doswell. The largest event of its kind in the country, the festival will feature over 100 vendors, including the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and fly fishing brands such as Temple Fork Outfitters and Orvis. Industry legend Lefty Kreh headlines a who’s who list of fly fishing and fly tying professionals and speakers attending the festival, such as Bob Clouser, Brian O’Keefe, Oliver White, Mike Mercer, Wanda Taylor and Joe Mahler of Nucanoe, along with well-known Virginia guides Blane Chocklett, Colby Trow and Cory Routh.
Held just 15 miles north of Richmond, this is the 17th consecutive year of the festival and anglers of all ages are encouraged to attend, especially beginners. The goal of the festival is to create a family friendly atmosphere for everyone to immerse themselves in the world of fly fishing, no matter their experience level.
“If you’ve ever wanted to try out fly fishing but didn’t know where to begin, this event is for you,” said Festival Director Beau Beasley.
To help introduce beginners to the sport, Orvis will be offering their “Fly Fishing 101 Class” throughout the weekend at no cost.
“We are especially interested in teaching kids about fly fishing and fly tying which is why we let kids in for free with paying adults. We have to get them off their cell phone and computers, and on to our streams and rivers so we can raise the next generation of sportsman and conservationist,” Beasley continued. “We even have the option for Boy Scouts to earn their fly fishing merit badge here at no cost to the scout.”
Beasley has even arranged for a sneak peak at a rare fish in the James River waterways. “Another attraction for kids is a live sturgeon display provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.”
Festival interest has grown so quickly that this year Beasley doubled the space in the convention center to accompany all of the vendors and expected visitors. He also added a second pond for fly casting instruction and the newest attraction, a kayak demo pond for guests who would like to try out kayaks and standup paddleboards from the likes of top brands NuCanoe and Bote.
Gabe Beverley, fly fishing manager for Green Top Sporting Goods, the oldest fishing and hunting store in Virginia, sees this festival as a great opportunity to reach new customers.
“We are very pleased to be part of this unique festival. Our current customers love the festival vibe, and it also draws new customers into our store who might not know about us.”
The highlight of the weekend event is the VIP After Party, where guests will have the opportunity to rub elbows with many of the festival’s fly fishing personalities and exhibitors in a more intimate setting. Sponsored by Steam Bell Beer Works in Chesterfield Co. , the VIP After Party will occur on festival grounds at 5:15 p.m. after Saturday’s events and offer tasty hors-d’oeuvres, brews from Steam Bell, live music from Amber Waves and of course, more fly fishing. Beasley said this event is attracting folks from up and down the eastern seaboard. Last year attendees traveled from as far north as Rhode Island and as far south as Georgia.
Not only do the guests come from all over, but so do the vendors. The Fly Shop from Redding, California, Gangler’s North Seal Lodge from Canada and Tailwaters Lodge from Pulaski, New York headline out of state exhibitors. Other vendors in attendance guests may recognize include Patagonia and Costa Del Mar.
“Thanks to the support of long term sponsors like the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, Temple Fork Outfitters, Green Top and Orvis, among others, we’ve grown into a real powerhouse in the fly fishing community. We’ve introduced fly fishing to thousands of new folks who might not otherwise ever go into a fly shop. We’re also pleased to have the support from vendors from all over the county, and some international vendors as well,” he added.
This festival concept has gone over so well in the fly fishing community, Beasley recently launched the Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival, which was held March 11th and 12th in Plano, Texas. The inaugural combined fly fishing and micro-brews crafted in the Lone Star State and the event drew nearly 1,000 attendees the very first year.
Tickets to the festival can be purchased at the gate or online at www.vaflyfishfestival.com. Tickets are $20 per day or a weekend pass for $35. Children under 16 are free with a paying adult. After-party tickets also are available on the website for $25.
Doors to the festival open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.