With children heading back to school and the leaves beginning to lose their vibrant summer green, the residents of Burke Centre are preparing for the 2004 Fall Festival.
This year, the 27th annual neighborhood celebration takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 11 and 12, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Burke Centre Festival Grounds on Burke Centre Parkway.
This year’s festival will begin with a Sept. 11, 2001, memorial service, honoring Lt. Col. Dennis Johnson and Charles Sabin, residents of Burke who were killed three years ago during the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
“We’ll be concentrating on those two people and their lives,” said Sande Pfalzgraf, chairman of the event.
“We’re very excited to have Mr. Johnson’s family helping us out this year,” she said, adding that Sabin’s family is not from the area and is not able to attend.
“Joyce (Johnson’s widow) has been working with us and has been one of the major contributors of artifacts and memorabilia that she and her family have received in the past few years,” Pfalzgraf said.
Part of the festival’s patriotic theme is a memorial tent with pictures, letters, artifacts, quilts and other items donated to or created by those who lost loved ones three years ago, she said.
“We’ll also be collecting for the Pentagon Memorial Fund in a pentagon-shaped box that was made by Mr. Johnson’s father,” Pfalzgraf said, adding that Johnson's brother also made a small bottle for children’s donations.
THE FESTIVAL will also serve as a Red Cross donation site for soldiers serving in Iraq, she said. “We contacted the Red Cross, and they gave us a list of things they need," Pfalzgraf said.
Items to be collected include prepaid phone cards, batteries, CDs, DVDs, backpacks and postage stamps. Clothing and underwear for men and women are also welcome, Pfalzgraf said. After the festival, the Red Cross will pick up the donations and send them to the troops overseas.
Following some opening comments by Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock), the color guard from the 354th Civil Affairs Brigade, newly back from service in Iraq, will give a demonstration. The Fairfax Jubilaires, members of the Fairfax County, Va., Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America Inc., will also perform.
Included in the day’s activities will be a presentation by Tom Troy of the Burke VFW post on the history and etiquette of the American flag, with a display of all versions of Old Glory throughout the years.
“It’s quite an impressive display,” Pfalzgraf said. “I had no idea there were so many.”
THE REMAINDER of the two days will be filled with music, arts, crafts and “a chance to see friends in Burke Centre,” said Bulova.
"I always find something that I just have to have" from the artisans, she said.
“I’m happy to help out in any way I can,” Bulova said of the festival. “Last year, they needed golf carts, and I was able to help them out, and this year they asked me to make some comments for the opening ceremony."
The event promises to be very popular once again this year, Pfalzgraf said.
“We usually get between 12,000 and 14,000 people in the two days. If you’re on Burke Centre Parkway that weekend, you’ll be very surprised” at the traffic volume, Pfalzgraf said, adding, “It’s very impressive for a small community."
As a rain-or-shine event, the weather won’t play much of a part in the festival. “In the past three years, it’s rained at least one day, but the crowd is still here,” Pfalzgraf said. “We only have to be careful of the rides. The only time recently it was canceled was for a hurricane.”
“The big draw is the arts and crafts,” Pfalzgraf said. “We also have a new wine-tasting garden featuring wine from the Rappahannock Cellars, Jefferson Vineyards, Pearmund Cellars, Oakencroft and Michael Shaps wineries, which will reopen at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, with appetizers and music for the adults,” she said.
New this year will be a Toddler Jamboree area for children, so their parents can have the chance to enjoy the sites. Various craft booths for children will also be available, where they can make American flag windsocks, scarecrows and puppets and enjoy games.
Musical entertainment will also be presented both days, Pfalzgraf said.
One of the groups performing at the festival is Eclipse, a duo of 16-year-olds Alexandra Rhoads and Lauren Price.
Rhoads said that she and Price, who lives across the street from her in Burke Centre, have been "serious" about their music for "about six months."
"We heard and read about the festival and sent in an audition tape for them," she said. "This is the biggest thing we've done yet."
She said that they have a good idea of the size of the audience they'll have. "We've watched other people perform, and I think we're pretty prepared," Rhoads said. Eclipse is scheduled to perform on Sunday at 1:45 p.m.
“We’ll have shuttle buses running both days” to help people get to the festival from their parking spot, Pfalzgraf said. The buses will run Saturday, from 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Residents can catch a bus at the Burke School, the Ponds Community Center, Terra Centre School, the Landings Community Center, the Oaks Community Center, Fairview Elementary School, all Metro bus stops on Burke Centre Parkway and at the Festival Grounds and Knollwood Church.