Virginia is for outdoor lovers–and never more so than in autumn. Leaf peepers rejoice in afternoon hikes that show the Commonwealth’s glorious fall colors to advantage. Many enjoy crisp, locally grown Virginia apples in either “original crunchy” or “hot, mulled, and spiced” form. And of course many Virginians will head to their local streams to play tug of war with native brook trout. The Commonwealth is chock full of great trout fisheries like the Jackson, South Holston, Rapidan, and Rose Rivers and Mossy Creek–as well as a host of streams in Shenandoah National Park. Is it any wonder, then, that Virginia is the birthplace of the first fly fishing festival?
For 19 years, the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival, the first event of its kind in the country, has introduced the quiet sport of fly fishing to would-be anglers young and old from all walks of life. And never has our insistent, angry, plugged in, stressed out culture needed the quiet sport more. This year’s festival will be held January 12-13, 2019 from 9AM-5PM.
Held each January inside the Farm Bureau Building at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia, the Virginia Fly & Wine has become a must-do event for Mid-Atlantic fly anglers, who come out in droves to meet and learn from fly fishing guides, sporting lodges, outdoor artists, custom rod builders, fly tyers, specialty food vendors, and fly fishing outfitters from dream fishing locales like Pennsylvania, Montana, Colorado, Canada, and Argentina.
Don’t fly fish? No problem: The festival offers a series of free and for-fee expert-taught fly casting classes. And casting is just the beginning: specialty classes include streamside first aid, advanced fly casting, and fly tying. Got a Boy Scout? Perfect! He can earn his fly fishing merit badge through a class taught at the festival by BSA-certified instructors.
For those who merely love someone else who fishes, several of the Commonwealth’s best wineries will be at the Virginia Fly & Wine sampling their wares (for patrons 21 years and older). In fact, the festival admission fee covers everything from wine tasting to free walkup casting classes to food prep and food-and-wine-pairing classes. New this year: a daily cooking class that will teach attendees how to prepare salmon.
Because the Virginia Fly & Wine is passionate about getting veterans out on the water, the festival partners with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to rehabilitating wounded service veterans through fly fishing and fly tying, regardless of their physical limitations. In addition, the festival works with Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation Camp, Back Country Hunters & Anglers, Casting for Recovery, and Virginia Coastal Conservation Association, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Festival sponsors include Green Top, Temple Fork Outfitters, Take Me Fishing.org, Fish Partner, Harman’s North Fork Cabins, Reilly Rod Crafters, and many more. For more information, check out www.vaflyfishingfestival.org