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Tom Tom Fall Festival fosters intimate, enriching experience for patrons

by Kristen Clevenson in The Cavalier Daily

As University students and community members headed downtown to the Tom Tom Founders Festival event Friday night, the streets buzzed with chatter as the fall block party amassed a couple hundred participants to celebrate art and innovation in the Charlottesville community.

From families to young adults, students to dogs, a large cross-section of interested parties came out to the McGuffey Art Center, blocking off 2nd Street for the celebration. Tables and chairs were scattered among the crowd in the grass in front of the McGuffey, the façade of the building lit with purple and blue lights. Performances were held on the top of the Art Center’s steps as well as on a stage built below. Food trucks and information booths lined the perimeter of the space.

The Tom Tom Founders Festival drew hundreds to Downtown Charlottesville last Friday evening for food, music and festivities.


Live music and a surplus of beer pumped up the crowd. Following a performance by horn ensemble Matt Horn and Friends, 18 local individuals honored by Tom Tom for their leadership and innovation were introduced. The diverse and exciting lineup of entertainment even included a performance by Charlottesville High School’s step team.

Vendors included Little Manila, a Filipino food truck; a Bulgarian catering chef who offered goodies such as cheese pretzels or schnitzel sandwiches; pizza straight out of a brick oven, transported to the festival in a trailer; and University dumpling truck Got Dumplings.

In tents, groups ranging from sustainable food companies, music lessons and the Virginia Film Festival advertised to the crowd. Attendees were even offered the opportunity to play corn hole for charity, benefiting Shelter for Help in Emergency and the Bone Marrow Foundation.

The McGuffey Art Center stayed open late Saturday, inviting attendees to view artist studios and talk to artists about their work. The Central Virginia Watercolor Guild’s exhibition was set up in the hallways.

The McGuffey houses a number of artists — including, but not limited to: oil painters, glass blowers and printmakers. There is even an “Incubator Studio” to promote emerging artists.

Among artists present were oil painter Eileen French, who displayed an exhibition of Facebook profile pictures painted in vibrant pastel colors, and glassblower Charles Hall, who worked in front of a crowd of people.

The dedication of artisans like French and Hall, in addition to various performances and an atmosphere of revelry and excitement, made it obvious why trolleys were packed. The Tom Tom Fall Festival encouraged an intimacy between patrons and artists, making the evening a successful one.

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The Tom Tom Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, EIN: 46-2048771