Big changes are afoot for the 2016 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival (VFFF). “I am very pleased to announce that the 2016 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival will be held at The Meadow Events Park, just a few miles outside of Richmond, Virginia,” said Festival director Beau Beasley. “The new location can accommodate our growing event. Even better, it will allow us to bring all of our vendors under roof, no longer subject to the vagaries of the weather. I enjoy being outside as much as the next fly angler,” continued Beasley, “but rough weather has—quite literally—dampened festival activities and attendance in the past. At our new location, weather will no longer be an issue.”
The festival—the largest event of its kind in the country, drawing fly anglers from as far away as New York and Georgia—appeals to anglers of all ages and stages. Organizers have deliberately worked to draw new anglers (especially women and children) into the quiet sport and reengage those who may have started fly fishing years ago but gave the sport up for any number of reasons. Festival attendees listen to lectures from various experts and practice hands-on skills at the two-day, family-friendly event. Several wineries from throughout the Old Dominion provide free wine tastings for those 21 and older.
“Never fear: We have plenty to entice the veteran angler. In addition, the festival will continue to reach out to a nontraditional audience—folks who may not be aware of how easy and enjoyable fly fishing really is,” said Beasley. “We are also committed to welcoming more women into the sport—and especially young families. Hey, I’ve got children of my own. So I’m all for getting kids to put down the cell phone, step away from the game system, and get outside.”
Last year’s festival enjoyed record turnout, and the event was flooded with children:
* The first-ever Family Fly Fishing Classes (3FC), sponsored by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation as part of their TakeMeFishing.org outreach efforts, taught parents and their children the basics of fly fishing. Paul Kearney was selected to head up the 3FC program for the VFFF. Kearney is Director of the Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation and Fishing Camp, which is a model program for instilling an in-depth knowledge of fly fishing and coldwater conservation in young people.
* Members of the Project Healing Waters Fort Belvoir and Quantico Programs taught fly tying to children.
* The Boys Scouts of America offered free instruction for uniformed Scouts toward completion of the Fly Fishing Merit Badge.
For the past 15 years the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival (VFFF) has been held in Waynesboro, Virginia, on the banks of the South River. “Construction proposed by the Virginia Department of Transportation on the bridge near the current festival grounds makes the site untenable for the 2016 and 2017 seasons,” says Beasley. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the fine folks in Waynesboro—and especially to Dana Quillen and Len Poulin, without whom the festival certainly could not have succeeded. We will sorely miss our dear friends Jim and Kay Heafner at the Speckled Trout Bed & Breakfast, which served as the festival’s VIP house for years.”
The 16th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival will be held April 9-10, 2016, at The Meadow Events Park in Doswell. New this year is an expanded kayak demonstration area sponsored by Wild River Outfitters of Virginia Beach. Those who have enjoyed the outdoor festival environment for years can rest easy: Although the new facility will enable all vendors to be under roof, the events center is surrounded by extensive grounds suitable for outdoor classes and wine tastings.
Past VFFF festival sponsors have included Temple Fork Outfitters, Orvis, Harman’s North Fork Cabins, and Dominion Power. The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation joined the festival last year, and Trout Unlimited was the festival’s conservation sponsor. Orvis, Wild River Outfitters, Harman’s North Fork Cabins, and Temple Fork Outfitters have already committed to sponsoring the 2016 festival.