Axios Richmond

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As Rihanna once said: Cheers to the freakin' weekend.

๐ŸŒฆ๏ธ Today's weather: Mostly sunny with scattered showers and a high near 69.

๐ŸŽง Sounds like: "Cheers (Drink to That)" by Rihanna.

๐ŸŽ‚ Happy early birthday to our Axios Richmond member Kyle Meyer!

Today's newsletter is 909 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: ๐Ÿ‘‹ Welcome to the Latino Farmers Market

Opening day of the Latino Farmers Market last Saturday. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

When America DeLoach approached Chesterfield officials about opening a Latino Farmers Market, the response was unanimous: "We love it."

The big picture: DeLoach, the Venezuelan owner of Salsas Don Sebastian, wanted a space for Latinos to celebrate and be proud of their culture โ€” and share it with their neighbors.

  • That means 20 vendors selling empanadas, street-style tacos, produce and more.

Zoom in: She, along with co-founder Deborah Medina-Paolini, was aware of the anti-immigrant stereotypes some residents held against the Richmond area's fastest-growing demographic, which grew 324% to 103,000 people between 2000 and 2020.

  • A few repeated them under the market's social media posts. Others saw the name as exclusionary.

Yes, but: DeLoach told Axios the more pushback she received, the more confident she felt in what the Saturday market at Chesterfield's Rockwood Park could be: a chance to connect people and change perceptions.

  • It was also how smaller Latino vendors could establish themselves.

State of play: Some Latino vendors told DeLoach they haven't felt as welcome at other farmers markets and will sometimes be put in the back.

  • That's why Veronica Sorondo, a vendor and owner of Venezuelan food spot TiZana, felt excited on opening day last Saturday.
  • She kept seeing vendors she knew were struggling to get into other markets sell out by 10:30am.

In between the salsa dancing, "Plรกstico" by Willie Colรณn playing and fresh arepas sizzling, DeLoach said people kept coming up to her to say a variation of the same thing.

  • "Thank you. For the community. For the representation."

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2. Virginia ends child marriage

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Virginia has become the first state in the South to ban child marriage.

The big picture: Gov. Youngkin signed a bill this week that closes a loophole in state law allowing emancipated minors to marry.

  • Only 11 other states in the U.S. have made child marriage illegal without exceptions, according to Unchained at Last, a nonprofit that helps girls get out of forced marriages.
  • Six of those laws, including Virginia's, passed in the last two years.
  • Four states, including California, have no minimum age.

By the numbers: Nearly 8,000 Virginians under the age of 18 got married between 2000 and 2021, according to marriage certificate data compiled by Unchained.

  • The youngest was 12, and more than 80% were girls.
  • Nationwide, between 2000 and 2018, the figures were nearly 300,000 minors.

Flashback: Before 2016, children under the age of 16 in Virginia could marry with parental consent or because of pregnancy.

Between the lines: A minor being allowed to marry doesn't necessarily mean they can file for divorce. In some states, you have to be 18 or have an adult file on your behalf.

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3. ๐ŸŒŠ The Current: News from around the state

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The driver charged with striking and killing a VCU student who was crossing the street in January 2023 was acquitted of an involuntary manslaughter charge, but found guilty for reckless driving and failure to obey a traffic signal. (Times-Dispatch)

  • Prosecutors argued the driver was speeding and ran two lights, but acknowledged that the student was crossing against the '"Don't Walk" sign.

A special grand jury in Newport News has charged the former assistant principal of the school where a 6-year-old student shot his teacher with felony child neglect. (AP)

๐Ÿ“š A Henrico school's Spanish immersion program for kindergarteners and second graders, which is 50-50 native English and Spanish speakers, is leading to higher attendance rates and test scores. (Henrico Citizen)

  • The county has seen 1,866 English learner students in the past five years, with most being Spanish speakers.

4. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ 2 local food spots robbed

JewFro's formerly fully stock bar. Image: Courtesy of JewFro

JewFro restaurant in Shockoe Bottom is in recovery mode after a break-in Tuesday night cleared its entire liquor inventory and broke the front door.

The big picture: The Jewish-African fusion concept opened in late 2021 at 1721 E. Franklin St., Richmond's oldest continuously operating commercial building spot.

The age of the building, coupled with occasional vandalism and theft of decorative objects, are among the challenges they've faced in their 2.5 years in business, they wrote in a social media post.

  • With the latest incident, they're now feeling "violated and betrayed" as they try to clean up and tally up the damage.

Why it matters: You can help. JewFro is still open for business as they clean up and could use a little local love.

  • They're asking locals to pop by for a visit, maybe to order something, but even if it's just to share a smile and a hello.

Separately, Daily Coffee Company โ€” a mobile coffee truck that was about to launch its roving baked goods and coffee service โ€” had its truck stolen this week.

  • They recovered their bright yellow bus the day after it was stolen from the Byrd Park area, but not before it was vandalized and stripped of all its coffee equipment.
  • The owners are currently assessing the damages and say they'll share more soon.

Keep reading

5. ๐Ÿฅ‡ Our bracket winners

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley after her team won the 2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Photo: Thien-An Truong/ISI Photos/Getty Images

March Madness is over, and that means we've got winners for our Axios Richmond bracket pool.

The big picture: South Carolina beat Iowa 87-75, earning the Gamecocks their third NCAA women's championship.

  • The Connecticut Huskies defeated Purdue 75-60 and became the first men's team in 17 years to win back-to-back championships.

Zoom in: Brian Kirkpatrick won our women's bracket challenge, beating out seven people who also had South Carolina going all the way.

  • Brendan Sheehy won the men's bracket over 25 other people who predicted UConn would take it all.

๐Ÿ‘€ What's next: If you're Brian or Brendan, reply or email at [email protected] for a surprise.

๐Ÿ’€ Sabrina is still laughing about how she genuinely believed JMU men's basketball was going to beat Duke.

๐Ÿ‚ Karri is stretching and emotionally preparing herself to be her friend's plus-one at a country club spring fling tonight where there will be a mechanical bull.

Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and Carlin Becker for copy editing today's edition.