On January 12-13, 2019, the 19th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival will draw anglers from throughout Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, and even Vermont. Held at the Meadow Event Park, just 15 miles north of Richmond on the site of the state fairgrounds, the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival is the first event of its kind to combine fly fishing and wine tasting. Fly fishing manufacturers, lodges, guides, tourism agencies, wineries, and specialty food companies are among the more than 100 vendors who hail from all over the country. This year’s festival sponsors include the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Temple Fork Outfitters, Green Top, American Angler, Steam Bell Beer Works, Harman’s North Fork Cottages, Virginia Sportsman, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Fly Tyer, Alaska Magazine, Mid Valley Press, Blue Ridge Outdoors, and newcomers Fish Partner and Virginia-based Reilly Rod Crafters.
The 2019 festival will feature several of the industry’s most prominent anglers and authors. Noted speakers and fly tyers include Jason Randall, Ed Jaworowski, Matt Supinski, Joe Mahler, Walt Cary, Debbie Hanson, Dusty Wissmath, Peter Stitcher, Chuck Kraft, and Brad Buzzi. Attendees will also enjoy hearing from popular regional guides and speakers Dale Collins, Matt Miles, Al Alborn, Matt Reilly, and Colby Trow.
In addition to hearing from fly fishing experts, Festivalgoers may enter to win a fabulous Grand Prize drawing: five days of guided fishing (including accommodations) in otherworldly Iceland, compliments of Fish Partner. Attendees may also proceed to the Trout Unlimited booth where they can meet TU CEO Chris Wood and enter to win a drawing for a free annual membership as well as other prizes worth up to $1,000.
“We work hard to demystify fly fishing,” says Festival Director Beau Beasley. “Many are simply too intimidated by fly fishing and fly tying to even give them a try. We believe that the quiet sport is for everyone, so we find casting and tying experts who make it simple and fun. Because of our unique approach, our event draws, on average, several times more women than similar sporting events.”
The Virginia Fly & Wine also warmly welcomes children: Last year’s festival offered casting classes specifically designed for children and drew Boy Scouts from as far away as New Jersey who came to earn their fly fishing merit badge.
Despite the festival’s focus on bringing new folks into the sport, advanced anglers needn’t worry: “We’re launching a series of new specialty classes geared towards more experienced anglers this year,” continues Beasley. These classes include:
–Freestone First Aid, taught by Nationally Registered Paramedic Mike Tayloe of Finns West. This class prepares professional guides and ordinary anglers in case something goes wrong on the stream.
–Advanced Fly Casting and Understanding Advanced Techniques, taught by guide/author and Master Certified Casting Instructor Mac Brown.
–Advanced Techniques for Fishing Tailwaters and Landing Giant Browns, taught by guide/ author Matt Supinski.
Many of the new specialty classes will be taught on Friday so that attendees can still take in the festival. Another new class, Peter Stitcher’s May Flies & Micro Brews, will be held over the festival weekend. Stitcher’s lucky students will learn how to identify bugs and receive a complimentary beer (students age 21 and over) to go with the class. All specialty classes have a limited amount of space.
Shannon Horton of Horton Vineyards will impart essential wine knowledge to attendees in the new Wine and Food Pairing 101 class, and Matt Supinski will be teaching a seafood cooking class complete with recipes from his latest book the Salmon-Brown Trout Nexus. Both of these classes are included in the general admission fee and are open to all attendees.
Returning this year is a Streamer Tactics class taught by author George Daniel and an Advanced Nymph Fishing Tactics class taught by well-known angler and author Jason Randall. All paid specially classes are first come, first served and include general admission to the festival for the day of the class.
Also returning this year are Family Fly Fishing Classes (3FC) sponsored by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Children 12 to 16 years old will learn the basics of fly fishing and fly casting with Paul Kearney of Trout Unlimited’s Tri-State Conservation Camp. All 3FC classes and materials will be provided at no cost to festival attendees.
“Our festival brings fly fishing to everyone,” says event director Beau Beasley. “When you tell folks that you can demystify fly fishing for the entire family and offer them a wine-tasting experience to boot–well, frankly, it’s a pretty easy sell.” Recently Beasley sat down for a podcast interview with Marvin Cash, host of The Articulate Fly. To hear the interview and learn more about the Virginia Fly & Wine Festival and the Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival, click here.