Thanks to Kings Dominion for inviting us to the first of three Taste of Virginia weekends!
By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Virginia is for lovers – food lovers, wine lovers, beer lovers, and roller coaster lovers. This is the message (also displayed on assorted T-shirts you can buy) Kings Dominion is sharing with its “Taste of Virginia” event. The theme park is celebrating the foods and drinks of the commonwealth’s regions along with entertainment and special guests. Taste of Virginia at Kings Dominion takes place on weekends now through Sunday, May 21, 2017.
The new culinary event pays tribute to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, Colonial, Chesapeake, and Tidewater areas with special menus you can sample in the festival area, along with made-in-Virginia drinks. The park, in Doswell, Virginia (just north of Richmond) tailored the menus to reflect each region. For example, the “Chesapeake mac-and-cheese” is a homemade macaroni and cheese with crab meat, while the Colonial booth offers peanut soup with crispy peanut-coated onions. Each region has three dishes to sample. Overall you will find main dishes such as meatloaf, ham and cheese empanadas, fried chicken, and crab cakes; sides such as corn chowder or made-from-scratch biscuits with local apple butter; and desserts including peanut butter fudge and pecan praline pie.
We visited Kings Dominion this past Sunday and sampled various foods and enjoyed everything we tried. For the main dishes, we loved the fried chicken with creamy dumplings from the Blue Ridge Mountains booth. It is a large chicken tenderloin, crispy on the outside (fried in soybean oil) and juicy on the inside, and it was our son’s favorite dish. For dessert, the fried Winesap apple pie was a nice choice, though the pecan praline pie – a generous portion we were too full to try – was tempting as well.
Taste of Virginia culinary samples are available for purchase via food tokens, at 2-4 tokens each. A token is equal to about $1.33, so the food samples end up being about $2.65-5.33 each (see our festival tips at the bottom of this post). Drinks also are for sale via tokens. The specialty drinks include Virginia wine and beer for sale at a special bar, and a spirits tent sampling cocktails.
The drinks overall were a good deal (4 tokens for a four-ounce glass of wine or a beer) but perhaps the best value was the spirits sampling: for 9 tokens ($12) you get four 4-oz. samples. On opening weekend when we attended, Filibuster Distillery was the featured company, providing drinks such as a Manhattan and an apple-flavored cocktail. The four drinks you get in a tray are definitely “shareable” so we had to pass on them since one of us would have to drive soon afterward (this photo above is of someone else’s order!).
Coming up in the next two Taste of Virginia at Kings Dominion weekends: Bellmont Distillery, Belle Isle Craft Spirits, and Copper Fox Distillery. I do love Bold Rock so I was happy to see their ciders there. Other local breweries featured at the festival are Center of the Universe, Devil’s Backbone, Legend, and Hardywood, along with wines from Chrysalis Vineyards, Rappahanock Cellars, Rockbridge Vineyard, and White Hall Vineyards.
The festival also includes live entertainment, with music every day of the festival (noon-2 pm and 4-6 pm), and special guests. Coming up on May 13 are Chef Damaris Phillips of Food Network, who will do cooking demonstrations, and Tim Smith of the “Moonshiners” show.
Taste of Virginia is a limited-time event of this theme park, which is now mostly open. Although the water park (Soak City) doesn’t open until Memorial Day weekend and some of the shows do not start until summer, you can already enjoy the park’s 18 roller coasters and thrill rides and numerous other family and children’s rides.
Our son is thrilled that he is now big enough to go on all the “big” rides at Kings Dominion so he always heads straight for the Dominator to set the tone for an exciting day – it’s longest floorless steel roller coaster in the world, with one of the biggest vertical drops in the world – followed by more upside-down thrills on Berserker Viking ship. As much as he loves the modern coasters, I’m glad to see he also is fond of Rebel Yell, which he rode seven times this Sunday. To me, Rebel Yell – a wooden roller coaster that is one of the park’s oldest attractions – IS Kings Dominion, and while I love it in large part for nostalgia, our kid loves the “racing” aspect (Rebel Yell is actually two side-by-side roller coasters that can race one another).
If your family has very young children, don’t fret: there is still plenty for them to do. In fact, Kings Dominion has an area dedicated to the youngest of patrons and their families: Planet Snoopy. With 20 family rides, including three new ones, the 14-acre Planet Snoopy is, in fact, the world’s largest Peanuts-themed area. Beyond Planet Snoopy, other family-friendly rides include swings, the Scrambler, Blue Ridge Tollway cars, the Shenandoah Lumber Company log flume, the carousel, and more; the Kings Dominion website lists all the family-friendly and kids’ rides.
If you’re planning on sharing your memories with friends and relatives during your visit to Kings Dominion, now it’s easier to do so: the park announced last year it now offers free wifi. Planning on visiting Kings Dominion soon? See our tips to make the most of Taste of Virginia and your park visit overall. Also feel free to share your own best tips in the comments below!
Taste of Virginia at Kings Dominion tips
- Look for the Taste of Virginia near the Candy Apple Grove section of the park, close to the Ferris wheel.
- Find the food at kiosks in that area, but note that one of them (Piedmont) actually is in a food truck.
- Pick a few dishes and share them among your group: this is the best way to try a little bit of each.
- First look at the menu and decide what you’ll buy (including drinks) and THEN go buy the tokens. Unfortunately, it looks like the tokens are sold only in sets of three so if you don’t plan your purchase well, you may end up one or two tokens short, and you can’t buy them singly (and the food vendors can’t take cash).
- Note that if you have a Kings Dominion meal plan, it does not apply for the Taste of Virginia.
General park visit tips
- Visiting the park for the first time? See what our experience was like on our very first visit a few years ago.
- Visiting with young kids? See our contributor Debra’s feature on Planet Snoopy and other family rides
- Not a fan of thrill rides? Kings Dominion is more than roller coasters and “scary rides.” See our feature on other non-ride Kings Dominion attractions including the dinosaur exhibit, live entertainment, circus show, fountain lights show, and more.
- Love fun festivals? Make the most of your visit to the park by attending during a festival weekend. Upcoming special events in 2017 include Memorial Day Weekend Salute May 27-29 (music, fireworks, and free admission to active-duty and retired military personnel), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Day June 3 (sign language interpreters available at many attractions and shows), and Kids Fest June 10-18 (children’s entertainment and special activities). Details on these and other special events are on the Kings Dominion website.
All photos (c) P. Hall
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, and Fairfax Family Fun has been compensated for participating. The opinions in this post reflect the views of the writer.