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Time for Springfield Days

Annual community takes place June 1-4, at Springfield Plaza, Lake Accotink Park.

Break out the doggie bandannas, sunscreen and picnic baskets, Springfield Days is scheduled for June 1-4 at Springfield Plaza and Lake Accotink Park.

Beginning with the Miss Springfield pageant on Thursday, June 1 and ending with the Cardboard Boat Regatta at Lake Accotink on Sunday, June 4, Springfield Days will have something for art lovers, bargain shoppers, gardeners and music fans alike.

"Springfield Days is a community-wide, multi-day event developed by residents and groups in the community for people in the community," said Nancy-jo Manney, executive director for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

An 18-year tradition in Springfield, the weekend festival offers something for families of all ages.

"There will be a flea market at Springfield Plaza all day Saturday while the Heritage Festival is going on at Lake Accotink," she said.

The Miss Springfield Pageant features 11 girls vying to win the crown and a scholarship for college, said Tammy Shapiro, a member of the Chamber and chair of the Miss Springfield Pageant committee.

"It's fun to work with the girls in that age group," said Shapiro, herself a former pageant contestant. "We try to stress that this is not a beauty pageant, it's a scholarship program. The contestants' scores are based on scholastic achievement and what they can do for Springfield as a whole," she said.

The girls will have a series of interviews and outings to attend prior to the contest, which will take place at the Springfield Mall Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. "They're not just showing up for the pageant. We try to build camaraderie between the girls," Shapiro said.

ON FRIDAY, two concert series will kick off for the summer season.

At Lake Accotink Park, the Falls Church Concert Band will play at 7:30 p.m. in the park's pavilion, the first concert of the Braddock Nights series. Across town, the Kingstowne Nights concert series will begin with Billy Couler and his Band starting at 7:30 p.m., at the Kingstowne Towne Center, Manney said.

Saturday promises to be an eventful day, with six different events taking place.

A flea market is open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Springfield Plaza, which will also host an Art Festival, sponsored by the Springfield Art Guild.

"This is a new location for us this year," said Skeeter Scheid, a member of the Art Guild. "We're hoping to attract more people here."

The art show will be on display on the sidewalk of Springfield Plaza, extending from Trader Joe's to Payless Shoes, she said. Anywhere from 20 to 30 artists or groups are expected to participate, depending on weather.

"Then again, one year we had a school sign up to participate," Scheid said. "That was the year it rained so badly, they weren't even able to get their stuff out of the van. But everyone always has a good time."

Open to "anyone who does original handmade art," Scheid said artisans will bring their crafts, ranging from jewelry and painting to pottery, providing shoppers the opportunity to purchase original works of art "for the same price as a framed poster."

For the artists themselves, participation in the show could win them some prizes, as judges will be walking around during the day inspecting their work, Scheid said.

A PARADE will began at 10 a.m., at Hanover Avenue and Highland Street, heading south on Hanover to Monticello Boulevard.

"The parade is always a huge hit," Manney said. "It's a big thing for local elected officials, the scouting groups, the Springfield Youth Clubs. The Lee Lancers cheer squad usually comes out, but it's led by Paws on Parade," she said.

A group of decorated dogs and their proud owners will start the parade, said Linda Waller, an aid of Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) and owner of four dogs.

Her oldest dog, Spanky, usually tries to be the top dog, she said, but this year "he'll have to prove he's the leader," she laughed.

Some years have seen as many as 30 dogs in the parade, Waller said, all wearing bandannas donated by the Olde Towne Pet Resort and Spa, while walking down the street.

"Kids love watching the dogs go by and the dogs love seeing all the kids," she said. "It's surprising how well they all behave."

Parade organizer Pat Milot said she spends many hours trying to plan out the location of the up to 30 groups that participate in the parade, trying to make sure there aren't two marching bands back to back, she said.

"This year, we've got Sen. (Jay) O'Brien (R-39), Del. Vivian Watts (D-39) and Supervisor Kauffman who have all said they'd be in the parade," along with the newly-crowned Miss Springfield, Milot said. Members of local Boy and Girl Scout troops will also march in the parade.

Despite the strategic headache caused by planning a parade, Milot said its her favorite part of Springfield Days.

"Everything comes together and just falls into place," she said. "It all just moves right along."

New to Springfield Days this year is a garden tour, sponsored by the Springfield Garden Club.

"We wanted to open our homes to the community," said Garden Club President Linda Guest.

Three homes will be included on the tour, she said, at three different locations along Old Keene Mill Road.

"One of the gardens is flat, another goes uphill and the third goes downhill," she said. "Our ladies are very excited. We're also walking in the parade again this year and we have a new banner to carry. We'll be passing out seed packets" along the parade route, Guest added.

LAKE ACCOTINK PARK plays a major role in Springfield Days, hosting the Native American and Civil War-themed Heritage Festival on Saturday and the Cardboard Boat Regatta on Sunday afternoon, said park manager Tawny Hammond.

"The Heritage Festival started last year. It's a combination of activities designed to celebrate the history of the area," Hammond said. "We're going to have members of four Native American tribes, the Mattaponi, the Pamunkey, the Piscataway and the Chickahominy and possibly the Rappahanock, here to demonstrate dancing, drumming, arts and crafts and native foods," she said.

Members of the Virginia 17th Confederate Regiment reenactors group will be at the park as well, demonstrating skills used during the Civil War. The Old Time String Band, a well-known bluegrass group, will perform from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Hammond added.

On Sunday, nautical adventurers will be invited to bring their best cardboard boats to the park for the Cardboard Boat Regatta, which will include a contest at noon and a race beginning at 2 p.m., she said.

Entrance to the Heritage Festival is $5 for people over the age of 16; $3 for those between the ages of four and 15 years and children under 3 are free. A $10 entry fee is charged for the Cardboard Regatta, which goes up to $25 on the day of the event, she said.

The central point of Springfield Days is to reunite residents from across Springfield and the outer lying areas, Manney said.

"We're in an urban environment and we sometimes loose the connections with neighbors we all had growing up," Hammond agreed. "This offers us a way to celebrate how we remember growing up in different parts of the country or around the world."