UPDATED Fall festival guide: Hampton Roads autumn celebrations

Outdoor festivals return to Hampton Roads with a vengeance when autumn leaves start to fall.

You'll find a celebration for most every inclination. Seafood, peanuts, sophisticated sculpture, homey crafts, Egyptian culture, indie music, gospel — all that and more will be showcased at events this season.

The festival circuit heats up as the temperatures drop. Just ask Michelle Sharp of Hampton. Her business That's The Spirit Decals, sells vinyl decorations and stickers for your automobile at outdoor events in the region.

Chances are, you'll find her in a booth at Bay Days next weekend hawking her wares.

"I love sitting out there and meeting people. It's amazing," she said. "When you're out at a festival, everybody's in a good mood. Walking around, seeing stuff, there's fresh air. They're just happy."

She sells at a number of festivals throughout the year, but said Bay Days is her favorite.

There's just something in the air, she said. "The kids have gone back to school, so they're excited. Parents are excited, too, because the kids have gone back to school. It seems like Bay Days it the switch turning summer into fall."

Renee Popernack, promotions coordinator for Newport News Parks & Recreation, agrees that fall is the right time for outdoor celebrations in our part of Virginia. The Newport News Fall Festival of Folklife attracts an estimated 70,000 people in one October weekend.

"We've always said, Fall Festival is the official start of the holiday shopping season," Popernack said.

"People [are] already looking forward to the holidays. The weather has gotten cool enough that people want to be outside. People are looking for holiday decorations and holiday gifts," she said.

"We try not to be a generic festival. With Fall Festival, we really try to focus on our theme, which is traditional crafts and traditional performers. That's why people come back year after year."

Here's a look at some of the outdoor festivals that promise to add zest to your autumn.


Dates: Sept. 6-8

Location: Downtown Hampton

Overview: The Peninsula's largest all-purpose outdoor free festival features live music from local and regional acts, merchandise and craft vendors, festival food tents, a bay education area, 9:30 p.m. Saturday night fireworks and the Tidewater DockDogs, a team of canine diving competitors.

Musical highlights: Snuff reunion show 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6; Big Wide Grin 1 p.m., Major and the Monbacks 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7; Slapnation 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8.

Admission/parking: Admission is free. Limited parking will be available in the downtown area for $5 per vehicle. Non-profit organizations help staff parking lots, and proceeds help local charities.

Information: 757-727-8311, http://www.baydays.com


Dates: Sept. 6-8

Locations: Two locations in Newport News. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, 600 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center, 2416 Wickham Ave.