Festival Transforms Downtown

Festival Transforms Downtown

Four-Day Party Hits Herndon

The party gets started Thursday, June 3 at 6 p.m. It lasts till Sunday, June 6, at 6 p.m. And we're all invited.

The annual Herndon Festival will be the dominant feature of downtown for four days of non-stop action including live entertainment, an arts and crafts show, children's hands-on arts, a business expo, carnival, 10K and 5K races, and a K9 2K and doggie expo.

"The entire downtown transforms into a street festival. At one end there is a carnival with a huge Ferris wheel. There are four or five stages of entertainment that is nonstop. And there is more food than any one person should eat and none of it is Atkins friendly. There's a trade show and when you walk down the streets you will see people you thought left Herndon a long time ago," said Les Zidel, a member of the Herndon Festival executive board. "There is so much to see, you almost don't take it all in. The whole purpose is to bring people together and have a good time."

THIS WILL BE the 24th year the festival takes over the town, which is incorporating its 125th anniversary into the celebration. The event is expected to attract more than 40,000 people from all over the region.

With that type of turnout, Holly Popple, the town's performing arts specialist and events supervisor, has the job of finding entertainment to please them all.

So this year, there will be some new faces mixed in with old favorites taking one of three stages. One of the things Popple is hoping will be a hit is the Rising Stars concerts presented by Washington's WB on the Municipal Center Stage Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. The concert will feature local and regional talent. The music gets started with Carbondale, a modern rock band out of New York. Fairfax County local, Shane Hines follows from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Lucky Town rounds out the trio, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Also new this time around is Las Mariachi Los Americas on the Depot Stage Friday, beginning at 6 p.m. The mariachi band will be opening up for another newcomer, Mandorico, who plays world rhythms and Latin rock.

"We worked with the NRC [Neighborhood Resource Center] to figure out what would appeal to Herndon's growing diverse population. We tried to represent the desire of the community," Popple said. "Everything is family-friendly, everything is PG-rated. I really, really try to keep [the entertainment] fresh. There is so much talent around and everybody deserves a shot."

Some crowd favorites are also returning, including Beach Boys tribute band, Surf's Up; jazz band, Bad Influence; and Irish rockers, Tempest. Joining the four-day line up is Welbilt, a popular Washington D.C. college band; oldies group The Association; and adult contemporary artist Matt Nathanson.

THERE WILL ALSO be plenty to keep the children occupied. The Herndon Council for the Arts is sponsoring hands-on children's art activities. Spread out over the course of Saturday and Sunday, four artisans will give demonstrations on various art forms, including Chinese calligraphy by Nellie Chao, the Capital Area Woodcarvers will teach youngsters how to whittle, the Northern Virginia Woodturners will be showing the children how to make tops, which the little ones will then get to paint themselves, and the Waterford Weavers will be showing the children how to card wool and then weave it.

In addition, there will be other activities scattered around the Old Town Hall lawn aimed at the young and young-at-heart.

"We're trying to celebrate the many forms of arts," said Grace Wolf, chairman of the council. "We want the children to think along different lines. Everyone can color. Everyone can draw. Everyone can cut and paste construction paper."

To that end, children will learn how to make bumble bee and butterfly pencil toppers from stem pipe; can make 3-D sculpture with packing peanuts; will create and decorate their own leather wallets or weave pot holders. There will also be ad-lib poetry. In addition, classic children's activities such as brass rubbings, face painting and card stamping will also be available.

"We want them to think, you might be making a bumble bee today, but in 30 years you could be making beautiful sculptures," Wolf said.

Several acts on the Depot Stage will also be geared toward the younger generations, said Popple.

There will be magic and puppet shows, but also a history of rock-n-roll presented by Uncle Brother and Lunar Stew, basketball tricks from Spinny J, and "The Yo-Yo Guy" Dick Stohr.

"Surprisingly, the clog dancers are popular with the children," Popple said.

FOR THOSE LOOKING for something a little different, the business expo, sponsored by the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce, will feature 75 vendors from around the region.

"We'll have vendors from all walks of life. Everyone that makes up a local community," said Beverly O'Brien, the events coordinator for the chamber.

O'Brien said the venders will run the gamut from small, home-based businesses to large chain stores, all wanting to let people know what they have new and exciting.

Tapping into the town's 125th anniversary, there will be a "Path to the Past" walk featuring videos of Herndon past, present and future.

"As you walk, you learn about Herndon," said Zidel.

An arts and crafts show along Lynn, Center and Station streets will feature 120 artisans displaying and selling their wares ranging from jewelry to folk art. A 10K and 5K race and fitness expo takes center stage Sunday, from 7:30-9 a.m., at the Herndon Community Center.

There is even an opportunity to invite everyone's four-legged friends. Saturday will feature a K9 2K and doggie expo. The 2K walk wonders through the neighborhood of the Community Center, beginning at 8:30 a.m., followed by the expo, which includes information on pet grooming, pet massage, care facilities and other services. There will be door prizes, refreshments for man and beast, and a dipping pool.