Featuring everything from handmade crafts to pony rides, chicken dinners and a Civil War encampment, the 34th annual Clifton Day festival promises to be just as special as always. It's Sunday, Oct. 13, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and admission is free.
"It's a day when it doesn't matter whether you're 8 or 80, have kids or not," said event chairman Jim Fullerton. "Everybody works together to put on this festival — it's the glue that holds Clifton together."
Some 150 juried craft vendors will line Chapel Road and Main Street, and crafters chairman Kathy Baber says this year's event will offer more pottery and handmade jewelry, plus more art — stained glass, oil paintings, watercolors and glassworks.
There'll also be handpainted silk scarves; baskets; ceramics; kitchenware; candles; herbs; wreaths; wooden furniture, toys and decorative items; sculpture and metalwork; handmade clothing; floral arrangements, calligraphy; leather goods; photographs and Christmas, Halloween and nautical ornaments.
"We have some really quality crafters in this show and wonderful artwork," said Baber. "Several vendors will have handmade silver jewelry, and there'll be some gemstone jewelry, as well.
Clifton's Pat Lasus will have her cuddly bunnies on display while she spins and crochets their angora wool. Other craft demonstrations — in Ayre Square, next to the Heart in Hand restaurant — include walking sticks, tole painting, stained glass, wirework, beading, basketry, pottery, silhouettes and weaving.
Fine arts and collectibles will be inside the Clifton Town Meeting Hall on Chapel Road, and antiques will be in the gazebo park between Chapel and Chestnut streets and also in the Heart in Hand parking lot, near the caboose.
Girl Scouts will host children's games on Chapel Road, across from the fire station; children's items will also be for sale there. The Clifton Farmers Market will be next to the kids' booth and will offer an extensive array of produce, including pumpkins, plus honey and breads.
Teaming up to serve snacks and sit-down dinners are the Clifton Presbyterian Church and Girl and Boy Scouts, between the railroad tracks and the Hermitage Inn on Richardson Lane. The dinner is a grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and Caesar salad. Also offered will be pizza, apple crisp, fruit cup, fruit smoothies and other beverages.
The Heart and Hand will serve Brunswick Stew and other delicacies, and the Clifton Store will offer chicken noodle soup, steak-and-cheese sandwiches and pork barbecue. The Clifton Gentlemen's Club will dish up its state-championship chili, plus sandwich roll-ups and red beans and rice.
The Clifton Lions Club will serve hot dogs and hamburgers, and the Lionesses will sell funnel cakes. The Clifton Woman's Club offers baked goods, bagels and cream cheese. Cub Scouts will sell cotton candy and other goodies, and Boy Scouts will have hot apple cider and baked goods.
The 49th Virginia Infantry, commanded by Tony Meadows, will do a Civil War encampment at the Clifton Presbyterian Church manse. Always a Clifton Day hit, the members will talk about weaponry and display soldiers' uniforms and ladies' dresses of the 1860s.
"It's living history and show-and-tell," said Meadows. "Visitors get to smell the gunpowder, handle the rifles and see the tents and the soldiers' equipment. Most of our rifles are rifled muskets; they use black powder — a big boom and a lot of smoke. If it's not too crowded, we'll let parents and older children fire the weapons — but only with parents' permission and supervision. We're very safety conscious."
He said Clifton Day is on his group's calendar every year. "It's a lot of fun," he said. "Our people have a good time, and the people [attending] enjoy themselves."
Also planned is live, musical entertainment in front of the fire station, plus pony rides by the Clifton Horse Society behind the Long & Foster, Realtors building on Main Street. There's no VRE train, this year, but there's an extra parking lot on Newman Road, in addition to the ones at Kincheloe Road, Clifton Elementary, the flood plain and on Chapel Road east of town.
Clifton Day is the year's biggest fund-raiser for all the town's charitable organizations, and the $5 parking fee really helps. Volunteers are still needed to help set up, the day before, at 9 a.m., at Ayre Square. Call Phoebe Peterson at 703-815-3817. "It's a wonderful day," said Fullerton. "More than 100 people are involved in putting it on and making it a reality."
He's been chairman for 13 years now, yet he still generously gives of his time and energy and keeps saying yes to this massive job, each year. So why does he keep doing it? Jokes Fullerton: "I don't run fast enough, and I'm a slow learner."