RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Fans of the popular Broad Appetit food festival will have to wait one more year as the local food community continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Broad Appetit has been one of the biggest food festivals in Richmond; often drawing crowds of attendees up to 40,000. The festival functions as a platform for local restaurants and eateries, and also serves as a fundraiser for the hunger relief organization Feed More.
The event was first canceled in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. The event was also canceled in 2021 as a result of social gathering restrictions.
“Broad Appetit regrets to once again postpone the largest food festival in Virginia typically held on the first weekend in June each year,” said Tracey Leverty of Echelon events. “Even though social gathering restrictions have been lifted, and after speaking with numerous anchor restaurants, we realized a request to staff a booth on a Sunday at a time when most can barely keep their establishments staffed for normal hours would be extremely insensitive.”
The toll of the pandemic on local eateries and small businesses in the Richmond area has been well-documented. A number of restaurants have had to permanently close their doors; among them, Nota Bene and Dutch and Company, both local favorites, closed in December.
“Holding the event would result in a much smaller number of vendors, but likely the same 30,000 to 40,000 attendees, all looking for a variety of food and lots of it,” Leverty said. “As much as we’d like to think it would all work out, 20 food vendors cannot handle what we have grown over the years, and we’d rather return when the event can do so and be successful for all involved.”
The organizers say that they weighed the possibility of compromises in order to make the 2022 event happen.
“We also discussed lifting some of our restrictions, such as allowing food trucks, generators and/or larger regional and national chains, but decided, again, to hold the integrity of the event together for a full return in 2023,” Leverty said.
Broad Appetit is expected to return on June 4, 2023.