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  • Matt Reilly


On January 12 and 13, 2019, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival will return to the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia, luring over 2,000 attendants from throughout the East Coast to what promises to be the most successful iteration of this one-of-a-kind event yet. Doors are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, both days. Tickets are $20, and kids and Boy Scouts in uniform are admitted free of charge.

The first event of its kind to combine wine tasting and fly fishing, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival will showcase more than 100 vendors, including fly fishing manufacturers, guide services, lodges, wineries, tourism agencies, specialty food companies, and outdoor publications. This year’s sponsors include the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Temple Fork Outfitters, Green Top, American Angler, Harman’s North Fork Cottages, Virginia Sportsman, Fly Tyer, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Alaska Magazine, Mid Valley Press, and newcomers, Fish Partner and Reilly Rod Crafters.

On top of admission and the opportunity to learn from a premium selection of industry leaders, attendants may enter a free raffle to win five days of guided fishing and accommodations in Iceland, courtesy of Fish Partner, as well as several other prizes valued up to $1000.

Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival

Attendants may also stop by the Trout Unlimited booth to meet Trout Unlimited CEO, Chris Wood, and enter to win a year’s membership to the leading conservation organization.

Also with the price of admission, attendees earn a free wine glass and complimentary tastings. Multiple Virginia wineries attend the festival, and attendees can enjoy a glass of wine at the show, or purchase a bottle to take home.

“The mission of the Festival is to teach as many folks about fly fishing as possible,” said Beau Beasley, the Festival’s Director. “We believe by getting new folks into the sport, we can increase the health of the fly fishing industry, and make better conservationist who care about the outdoors.”

And with a wealth of presentations and classes on the schedule, the Festival puts a strong foot towards its mission. “There are various classes and lectures that go on throughout the festival,” said Beasley. “We have everything from free fly casting and fly tying lessons to paid specialty classes.”

In 2019, Festival attendants will hear from a number of the industry’s most prominent figures. Attending authors and fly tyers include Jason Randall, Chuck Kraft, Ed Jaworowski, Matt Supinski, Joe Mahler, Walt Cary, Debbie Hanson, Dusty Wissmath, Peter Stitcher, and Brad Buzzi. Festival-goers will also have the chance to learn from popular regional guides and speakers Dale Collins, Matt Miles, Al Alborn, Matt Reilly, and Colby Trow.

Classes range from beginner to advanced, and from fly fishing to wine.

Returning this year are free Family Fly Fishing Classes, offering fly fishing and casting orientation to kids 12 to 16 years old with Paul Kearney of Trout Unlimited’s Tri-State Conservation Camp.

Other free classes include “Wine and Food Pairing 101,” taught by Shannon Horton of Horton Vineyards, and a seafood cooking class taught by Matt Supinski, featuring recipes from his latest book the Salmon-Brown Trout Nexus.

Also returning this year is a “Streamer Tactics” class taught by author George Daniel and an “Advanced Nymph Fishing Tactics” class taught by well-known angler and author Jason Randall. Both classes are paid, and are enrolled on a first come-first serve basis.

An exciting lineup of new specialty classes are being offered this year, aimed at the more advanced fly angler. “Freestone First Aid,” instructed by nationally registered paramedic Mike Tayloe of Finns West, will teach wilderness first aid skills to prepare professional guides and anglers for emergencies in the field. Mac Brown will teach an “Advanced Fly Casting” course, Matt Supinski will teach “Advanced Techniques for Fishing Tailwaters and Landing Giant Browns,” and Peter Stitcher will teach “May Flies and Micro Brews,” which will teach students to identify aquatic insects to the tune of a free beer.

Even if you’re not a fly angler, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival has something to offer via its diversity of vendors. “There are multiple artists and various specialty food vendors that attend the show,” said Beasley. “These food vendors and artisans come from across the mid-Atlantic and provide plenty of entertainment and shopping experiences beyond fly fishing. This year we have specialty jewelers, and well as specialty clothing manufacturers.”

Regardless of your level of interest or skill in fly fishing, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival promises to be a stellar event not to be missed. “We work hard to demystify fly fishing,” said Beasley. “Many are simply too intimidated by fly fishing and fly tying to even give them a try. We believe that the quiet sport is for everyone, so we find casting and tying experts who make it simple and fun.”

*Originally published in The Rural Virginian

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