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Fall into the Arts

More than 200 artisans display their wares this weekend.

Although autumn is still 12 days in the future, fall arrives in Alexandria this weekend with the official opening of the City's season of "Fall for the Arts."

This Saturday and Sunday, King Street will be transformed into a seven block open-air art market with the wares of more than 200 artisans from across the nation. They will be joined by 24 regional artists in the block between the Potomac River and Union Street.

It's all part of the second annual Festival of the Arts, which launches a series of festivals and venues highlighting not only arts and crafts displays, but also many performing arts events. The first live artistic presentations will be part of this year's Festival with performances on City Dock behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

IN ADDITION to the block devoted to regional artists, the overall Festival has been extended an extra block from St. Asaph to Washington streets. And this year's attendees will be able to enjoy outdoor dining at many restaurants along King Street while viewing the myriad creations.

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12. The Performing Arts, will feature a wide offering of regional talent from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Of the 24 regional artists displaying individual pieces of their work at the special show, 16 are from Alexandria. Their creations, as well as those in the main show, are for sale. Both shows include work in all mediums including painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, crafts and photography.

"The Regional Artists Juried Exhibition is an exciting opportunity for local artists to reach a wide audience of art lovers from the around the Greater Washington region and beyond," said Leon Sciosica, chair, Alexandria Festival of the Arts Planning Committee and chair, Alexandria Commission for the Arts.

This year's Festival is produced by Howard Alan Events, Ltd., in cooperation with the City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Commission for the Arts, and the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association.

It was guided by a committee comprised of representatives from various art organizations citywide.

THE FESTIVAL is only the beginning. The following weekend, Sept. 18 and 19, George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate becomes a colonial marketplace during the ninth annual 18th-century Craft Fair.

The two day event features artisans who sell handcrafted colonial-style crafts, 18th-century entertainment, fair-style food, and free sightseeing cruises compliments of Spirit Cruises and the Potomac River Company. Admission to the Craft Fair is included in regular Estate admission.

Other area events on the Fall for the Arts schedule include:

* Sept. 18: 63rd Annual Tour of Historic Homes in Alexandria. Tour some of the City's most beautifully restored and decorated residences. Call 703-683-5544 or visit www.thetwig.org.

* Oct. 2 highlights three separate events: Art on the Avenue, along Mount Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray section of Alexandria, features more than 200 artists and international cuisine from the area's myriad restaurants. This multi-cultural arts festival celebrates diversity through the arts. It operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 703- 683-3100. The Torpedo Factory Art Center hosts the Alexandria Art Safari that same day. It offers hands-on activities for both adults and children by working with the more than 165 artists in collaborative activities. Finally, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra opens its 2004-2005 season with its presentation "Caliphs and Kings" at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at 8 p.m.

* Oct. 1-3: Mount Vernon Estate's Wine Festival and Sunset Tour. This evening event celebrates the history of wine making by the founding fathers. It also features live entertainment, reenactments, and tours of the rarely open wine cellar vaults. Held at the Estate each evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., advance tickets are required. They may be purchased at Mount Vernon's Main Gate or through Ticketmaster at 703-573-SEAT or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information call 703-780- 2000 or visit www.mountvernon.org.

* Oct. 9: Alexandria Seaport Foundation hosts "Seaport Days." Foundation members share the artistic techniques of boat-building. A chowder cook-off and children's activities complete the day, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Reservations, required for boatbuilding, can be made by calling 703-549-7078.

* Oct. 21 through Nov. 21: Metro Stage presents "One Good Marriage," the U.S. premiere of Canadian playwright Sean Reycraft. For tickets, call 703-548-9044 or visit www.metrostage.com.

* Oct. 23-24: Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon Estate is a celebration with dancing, wagon rides, free pumpkins for children under 11, and more. Call 703-780- 2000 or visit www.mountvernon.org.

* Oct. 30: Historic Alexandria Hauntings - A family oriented event with unexplained occurrences and strange tales at selected Old Town museums. Call 703-838-4242 or visit www.gadsbystavern.org.

* Nov. 13: Alexandria Symphony Orchestra is inspired by artists Calder and Miro in their performance of works by Stravinsky, Faure, and Tchaikovsky. Call 703-548-0885 or visit www.alexsym.org.

* Nov. 19-21: Historic Alexandria Antique Show and Sale at the holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, 625 First Street, Old Town. Features dealers from throughout the country with a preview party. Call 703-549-5811.