Virginia Folklife Presents “Tasty Licks: Virginia’s Food Traditions”

Richmond Folk Festival, October 7-9, 2016

Culture & Identity  •  Folklife  •  News


Charlottesville, VA—Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH)’s Virginia Folklife Area and Stage announces its theme for the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival: “Tasty Licks: Virginia’s Food Traditions,” showcasing the diverse foodways of Virginia along with Virginia Folklife musical pairings. Instead of famous chefs and restaurateurs, the spotlight will be on “home cooks” revered in their own communities. From October 7-9, 2016, festival attendees will learn family-held recipes, share in closely guarded kitchen secrets, and taste the results. “The popular expression ‘you are what you eat’ is often interpreted literally, but the saying also holds true in the greater cultural sense,” says Virginia state folklorist and Virginia Folklife Program director Jon Lohman. “It is through our food that we consciously and unconsciously express to ourselves and others our most deeply felt sense of who we are.”

Lohman has curated and produced the Virginia Folklife Area and Stage at the Richmond Folk Festival since the festival’s inception in 2005 as the National Folk Festival. While the Festival’s other six stages feature performers from around the country and the world, the Virginia Folklife Stage and Area focus on Virginia’s finest tradition-bearers, each year with a unifying theme to showcase particular art forms of significance in the Commonwealth. Some think of the Virginia Folklife Stage and Area as “a festival within the festival,” and past themes have included Virginia’s instrument makers, contest traditions, National Heritage Award winners, family bands, and sacred music and crafts.

In describing how he picked this year’s theme, Lohman explains, “The foods we eat not only sustain our bodies, but also our communities and cultures. Like other forms of folklife—our music, stories, crafts, celebrations, and rituals—our foodways create a sense of communal belonging and identity, be it ethnic, regional, occupational, or familial.” Reflecting the rich diversity of Virginia, the Virginia Folklife Area will explore how foodways also play a critical role in our experience of different ways of life.

The 2016 “Tasty Licks” foodways participants are:

  • Mary Stuart and Andy Parks and Chuck and Robin Pruitt – Tangier Island cooking (Tangier, Virginia)
  • Luz Lopez – Mexican cooking traditions (Earlysville, Virginia)
  • Beyhan Cagri Trock – Sephardic cooking traditions (Bethesda, Maryland)
  • Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd – oyster shucking (Jamaica and Urbanna, Virginia)
  • Randy Bush and the Red, White, and Blue Stew Crew – Brunswick Stew (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Frances Davis – dried fried apple pies (Rocky Mount, Virginia)
  • Clyde Jenkins – Heirloom apples and apple grafting (Stanley, Virginia)
  • Ida MaMusu – African vegetarian traditions (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Barb Gillespie – bread baking (Floyd, Virginia)
  • Members of the Philippine Cultural Center – Filipino foodways and dance traditions (Virginia Beach, Virginia)

The Virginia Folklife Stage will complement the foodways demonstrations with a lineup of artists from many of the same communities, what Lohman calls “perfect pairings.” Stage performers are:

  • Cora Harvey Armstrong – gospel (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Dori Freeman – Appalachian singer-songwriter (Galax, Virginia)
  • Shadowgrass – bluegrass (Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina)
  • Sherman Holmes – soul and gospel (Saluda, Virginia)
  • Unique Sound of the Mountains – Larry Sigmon and Martha Spencer (Callaway and Whitetop, Virginia)
  • The Legendary Ingramettes – gospel (Richmond, Virginia)
  • David and Mason Via – bluegrass/singer-songwriters (Patrick Springs, Virginia)
  • The Hurdle Brothers with Reverend Tarrence Paschall – Tidewater gospel (Portsmouth, Virginia)
  • Trio Sefardi – Sephardic folk songs (Northern Virginia)
  • Reverend Frank Newsome – old regular Baptist a cappella gospel (Haysi, Virginia)
  • Humayun Khan – Hindustani singing (Annandale, Virginia)

The Virginia Folklife Stage and Area at the Richmond Folk Festival is sponsored by Union Bank & Trust. Full performer biographies are available here and the full festival schedule is available here.

About the Virginia Folklife Program

The Virginia Folklife Program, a public program of VFH, is the state center for the documentation, presentation, and support of Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. For more than twenty-five years, the program has documented the Commonwealth’s music and material traditions and shared those histories through hands-on workshops, performances, exhibitions, audio and video recordings, and apprenticeships across Virginia. For more information, visit

About VFH

The mission of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is to connect people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. VFH reaches an estimated annual audience of 23 million through Community Programs, Digital Initiatives, Scholarship, and the Virginia Center for the Book. For more information, visit

About the Richmond Folk Festival

The Richmond Folk Festival is one of Virginia’s largest events, drawing visitors from all over the country to downtown Richmond’s historic riverfront. Scheduled for October 7-9, 2016, the festival is a FREE three-day event that features excellent performing groups representing a diverse array of cultural traditions on seven stages. The festival includes continuous music and dance performances, a Virginia Folklife Area featuring ongoing demonstrations, an interactive Family Area produced by the Children’s Museum of Richmond, a folk art marketplace, regional and ethnic foods, festival merchandise and more. The Festival is produced by Venture Richmond, in a continuing partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the City of Richmond, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the National Park Service, The American Civil War Center, and the Children’s Museum of Richmond. More information is available at