As the weather continues to grow warmer, I'm quickly learning about Richmond's fondness for festivals. Many of them are family oriented, yet they appeal to a variety of ages and interests. Soon after I attended the Strawberry Street Festival in May (which took place at William Fox Elementary School on Strawberry St.), I saw advertisements for a four day Greek Festival as well as a Strawberry Fair during the first weekend in June.
I had attended a Greek Festival before, so the volume of the music and the variety of culinary choices weren't too overwhelming. There was a large tent for a la cart food, including spanakopita, tiropita, chicken and pork souvlaki, moussaka, baklava, and more. On my first visit I bought a spanakopita and tiropita, both of which were flaky and delicious, as well as assorted pastries and a souvlaki wrap (a grilled pork kebob in a pita with grilled peppers and onions and tsaziki sauce). One of the huge tents that were set up was solely designated for grilling the meat, and part of my decision to eat souvlaki was based on the tempting aroma drifting across the courtyard. The gyro tent was by far the most popular, but I was happy with my choice. I was also pleased with the baklava, and two days later, when I returned to the festival, I treated myself to a "baklava sundae." It was basically just crumbled baklava layered with soft serve icing, but I was very impressed with the combination.
The Strawberry Fair, which was set up right next to the Randolph-Macon College Campus, was a completely different scene from the Greek Festival. Neverending rows of white tents formed long passageways, and the stands bore a range of crafts and food. I bought a huge flat of strawberries for $10, and they lasted an entire week (including strawberry shortcake that was eaten by a few people). I probably would have bought strawberry bread too, but the stand was already out of it when I had a sample. Luckily, they were also selling strawberry lemonade, which was refreshing and not too sweet.
Events like these are a way for everyone to enjoy food, nice weather, and a summer mentality. This past weekend there was a seafood and beer festival on Brown's Island, and there is another Strawberry Festival on Strawberry St. on June 24th to benefit the Children's Museum of Richmond. I remember going to the Watermelon Festival in Carytown last August, and I'm excited to do it again. I hope to see you there!