BOB Fest still on schedule

Published 6:23 pm Monday, January 8, 2024

Smithfield’s BOB Fest, an annual all-you-can-eat festival highlighting Bloody Marys, oysters and Brunswick stew, will this year coincide with two long-planned bridge closures likely to delay traffic.

The event, which frequently attracts attendees from the Peninsula and beyond, is set for noon to 4 p.m. on Jan. 13. On Jan. 12, the Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled the first of two four-day shutdowns of the James River Bridge, which connects the Peninsula to Isle of Wight County.

From 1 a.m. on Jan. 12 through 5 a.m. on Jan. 16, all four travel lanes will be impassable as crews with VDOT contractor PCL Construction begin replacing 80 2-inch-thick wire cables original to the 41-year-old drawbridge. A second closure – one for each drawbridge tower – is set for Feb. 2-6.

BOB Fest attendees may encounter further delays at the Cypress Creek Bridge, which is undergoing a two-hear rehabilitation. For the duration of the work, VDOT contractor crews will restrict travel on the ordinarily two-lane bridge to one-way traffic headed into town.

The Cypress Creek Bridge, which dates to 1975, serves as one of two ways in and out of Smithfield’s historic district and its central Windsor Castle Park where the BOB Fest is held. Traffic headed out of Smithfield will be detoured onto the Route 10 Bypass at its intersection with Main Street.

Gina Ippolito, festival director for the nonprofit Smithfield VA Events, which organizes the BOB Fest, said the event is already sold out and is going ahead as planned despite the expected traffic issues.

“We can’t reschedule,” Ippolito said. “It’s unfortunate, but we’re trying to notify everybody we can.”

The BOB Fest returned last year for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s festival will no longer include an 8-kilometer race.

According to Ippolito, the BOB Fest typically brings in around $55,000. This year, Smithfield’s Rotary Club is slated to receive $10,000 from the proceeds. Sundays at Four, a classical music program at Smithfield’s Christ Episcopal Church, is slated to receive a $5,000 share of the proceeds. The rest will be distributed in smaller amounts among other community organizations.