Come one, come all to the 36th annual Clifton Day. It's this Sunday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (rain date, Oct. 19), and this year's event features live bluegrass by noted professionals, Seldom Scene and The Mark Newton Band.
"I'm looking forward to Clifton Day and to listening to some good, bluegrass music," said town Mayor Jim Chesley. "These are two, top-notch groups."
The bands will perform in the gazebo in the town park from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Although admission to Clifton Day is free, the concert's $5/person. Lisa Howard of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine will emcee.
Newton's 2000 hit, "Follow Me Back To The Fold," was one of the genre's biggest releases that year, and the title track of the band's debut album, "Charlie Lawson's Still," spent eight months on the Bluegrass Unlimited song chart after its August 2001 release. Composed of Mark Newton, Bob Goff Jr., Mike Munford and Troy Engle, the group was nominated in 2002 for the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) Emerging Artist of the Year award.
SELDOM SCENE has been making music for more than two decades and was called "America's greatest bluegrass band" by Cash Box magazine. In the world of acoustic music, its members are regarded as legends. Ben Eldridge plays banjo and guitar, Lou Reid sings and plays guitar, Ronnie Simpkins plays bass and Fred Travers plays the dobro. And singer Dudley Connell was nominated for "Male Vocalist of the Year" by the IBMA and recorded 10 albums with his previous group, The Johnson Mountain Boys.
The VRE train will take passengers to and from town from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. See www.vre.org for stops and times. It's free, going; return tickets, available at Clifton's caboose, are $5. For general Clifton Day information, call 703-968-0740 or see www.cliftonday.com.
Some 200 crafts vendors will line Chapel Road and Main Street. And there'll be demonstrations of woodcarving, syrup making, basketry spinning, herbal crafting, pottery making, lace tatting, rug weaving and silhouette making.
Antiques will be sold in front of the fire station on Chapel Road and along Pendleton Avenue. And the nearby Clifton Farmers Market will offer fresh produce from 9 a.m.-noon. Girl Scouts and the Clifton Presbyterian Church will sell snacks and a sit-down dinner, respectively, between the railroad tracks and the Hermitage Inn on Richardson Lane.
THE HEART IN HAND will serve Brunswick Stew and the Clifton Store will offer hot and cold sandwiches. The Clifton Gentlemen's Club will cook its state-championship chili, and the Clifton Lions Club will serve hot dogs and hamburgers. The Clifton Woman's Club and Cub Scouts will also sell treats, and the Boy Scouts will offer hot apple cider.
The 49th Virginia Infantry will hold a Civil War encampment at the Clifton Presbyterian Church manse. A Kids' Crafts area will be at the Clifton Town Meeting Hall on Chapel Road (next to the fire station), and the Clifton Horse Society will provide pony rides, photos and face-painting for children at the barn near the railroad tracks, at the town's entrance.
Parking will be available in marked lots; cost is $5 and goes toward charity. Clifton Day is the year's biggest fund-raiser for all the town's charitable organizations. The Clifton Primitive Baptist Church, built by freed slaves in 1869, will be open for viewing, and the Lions Club will do free, sight-and-hearing testing near the town caboose.
"At least 200 people are involved in making Clifton Day a reality," said event spokeswoman Sharon Cavileer. And one of them, Phoebe Peterson, still needs volunteers to help set up, the day before; call 815-3817.