The 2015 Summer Arts Festival, presented in partnership between the School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech and the Town of Blacksburg, brings a wide array of arts and entertainment throughout June, July, and August. 

Now in its 24th year, the festival offers eight concerts, a live children's theatre event, three visual art exhibits, three classic movies, and a host of special events. 

For the second year in a row, College Avenue will be closed on select Fridays throughout the summer to accommodate the ever-growing pedestrian traffic events. 

The Friday Night Outdoor Concerts series features a wide spectrum of music including Carolina beach and shag, Louisiana dance music, honky-tonk, rockabilly, gypsy, Americana, and Irish folk. The lineup includes well-known touring bands such as Zydeco-a-Go-Go from South Carolina, Gerry Timlin from Pennsylvania, and local homegrown talent with 3 Minute Lovin’ from Blacksburg and Hoppie Vaughan & The Ministers of Soul from Roanoke. 

The concerts take place on the Henderson Lawn stage on the corner of North Main Street and College Avenue from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Fridays throughout the summer. 

The live theatrical event for the season is "Fancy Nancy: The Musical," adapted from the best selling children's books by Jane O'Connor, performed by the Roanoke Children’s Theatre. The show will be presented on Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21 with two performances each day at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the Squires Haymarket Theatre.  

Also included in the festival are screenings of three Classic Movies at the Lyric Theatre in June, July, and August. Films include "To Kill a Mockingbird," based on Harper Lee's novel and starring Gregory Peck; "Funny Girl" with Barbara Streisand and Omar Sharif; and the Marx Brothers' comedy "Duck Soup." 

For the visual art connoisseur, the festival will present three exhibits:

  • “Watercolor and Weavings: A Collaborative Exhibit by Donald Sunshine and Joanna Sunshine” will be on display in the Squires Student Center Perspective Gallery from June 5 through August 9. Donald Sunshine is a Professor Emeritus from Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture. His recent watercolors, which document Goodland, a threatened historic fishing village in Florida, will be featured. Joanna Sunshine is a weaver and creates work that shows her connection to place and time.
  • “Evocative/Recollective: Paintings by Mary Moore” will be featured at the Armory Art Gallery from June 5 through July 18. Described as an evocative magician cloaked as a painter, Moore’s work sees beauty that most of us miss, and gratefully, she puts brush to canvas. Her work conjures emotion, memory, and mystery.
  • “Assemblage: Works from the Virginia Tech Collection" is a second exhibit scheduled for the Armory Gallery is from July 27 through August 29. It features the art of organizing and composing into a unified whole, a group of unrelated and often fragmentary objects, such as an educational collection, graced by eclectic offerings.

The festival lineup also includes a host of special events presented by the Downtown Merchants in Blacksburg:

  • The Summer Solstice Festival on June 20 includes the Solstice Market, a 5k race, sand beach, live music, dog parade, and more. 
  • The Independence Day Celebration on July 4, presented by the Town of Blacksburg, begins with a 2 p.m. parade followed by live music performances by the Blacksburg Community Band and The Meter’s Running. Fireworks provide a finale to the evening. 
  • Art at the Market, an art show, sidewalk sale, and breakfast at the Farmers Market, is scheduled for Saturday, July 18.

Rounding out the summer festivities will be the annual Steppin’ Out street festival on Aug. 7-8, with live performances, food, artists and crafts, sidewalk sale, annual Draper Mile road race, and more.

Admission to all events is free. Advance reservations for "Fancy Nancy: The Musical" are recommended and will be available beginning June 1. For more information on any of the events mentioned, including rain site information for the Friday Night Outdoor Concerts, visit the School of Performing Arts Summer Arts Festival website

Learn more about all Summer Arts@Virginia Tech programs.

Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Streets, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Squire parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information is available online.

Written by Willie Caldwell of Blacksburg, Virginia, a graduate student studying arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts.