New attractions for young and old are featured in the 30th Annual Arlington County Fair, a free event scheduled from Aug. 17-20 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center.
A children’s court area, sponsored by Verizon, is new this year, with chalk drawing, a sock puppet show and clowns who not only provide balloon art but face-painting as well. This is also the annual petting zoo attraction, a new flea circus, pony rides and amusement rides with a focus on young attendees.
On the opposite end of the age spectrum, Friday Aug. 18 is billed as Seniors’ Day, sponsored by Sunrise Senior Living and featuring events and attractions geared toward veteran fair-goers.
The challenge every year is to serve the different audiences attending the annual event and to keep things fresh, according to Denise Marshall Roller, manager for Arlington County Cultural Affairs.
That means while traditional fair goodies like cotton candy and candy apples will be available from vendors, so will alligator meat — a new delicacy served this year. "Everything is free, except you have to purchase tickets for rides and pay for food," said Roller. The rides, operated by Cole Show Amusement Company of Covington, Va., feature an array of different genres and intensities. There are "Scrambler"-type rides in the Sizzler and the Catch’n Air. There are traditional Ferris Wheels and a Tilt-a-Whirl, along with the Heartflip, a returning ride from last year.
ALSO RETURNING from last year is a series of outdoor concerts. The outdoor stage, sponsored by Comcast, features music acts from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day of the fair. Acts performing include Paul and Storm with GrooveLily from da Vinci’s Notebook, Gonzo’s Nose, Debi Smith, Ruthie and the Wranglers and Sandra Y. Johnson’s jazz and blues. Roller said the first year of the concerts was a success, save for one issue: the weather.
The start time for this year’s shows has been moved from late afternoon to early evening in order to stay away from the summer sun. One attraction that’s always held in the light of day is the annual pig races, one of the most popular events in the multi-day fair, which draws an estimated crowd of 60,000 patrons.
Roller said the county has signed a new 3-year contract to keep the pigs in Arlington slop for the foreseeable future. Opening ceremonies for the Arlington County Fair are scheduled for Thursday, August 17th at 6:15 p.m. Thomas Jefferson Community Center is located at 3501 South 2nd Street.
There is parking for drivers with disabilities near the fairgrounds. Other parking options including the Arlington Career Center (816 South Walter Reed Dr.), the I-66 parking garage, and the Ballston Metro; shuttle buses will run every 30 minutes from these sites to the fair beginning one hour before opening and one hour after closing each day. Visit www.arlingtoncountyfair.org for more information.