The Town of Clifton only has a couple hundred residents. But on Clifton Day, the streets are filled with thousands of people from throughout the Washington Metropolitan area.
They come for the crafts, antiques, food, Civil War re-enactors, live musical entertainment and the chance to step back in time in a charming, historic town unlike any other in Fairfax County.
Said Vice-Mayor Anton: "It's fun for the entire family."
And this year's celebration — the 39th annual — will be held Sunday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Rain date is Oct. 15, and admission is free.
PEOPLE DRIVING to the Town of Clifton may park at Clifton Elementary and at marked lots off Chapel Road and Clifton Road. Visitors may also travel to and from Manassas, Manassas Park, Rolling Road or Burke via the Virginia Railway Express. Trains will run from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The schedule is at www.vre.org and at cliftonday.com, and $5 return-trip tickets may be bought at Clifton's red caboose.
A wide variety of crafts will be found all along Main Street and Chapel Road where more than 200 vendors will display and sell their wares. Items will include: Leather goods, handmade jewelry, pottery and ceramics, stained glass, floral arrangements, baskets, Halloween and Christmas decorations, candles, kitchenware, clothing, toys, oil paintings and watercolors, wooden furniture and decorative items, herbs, wreaths, sculpture and metalwork.
And in the vicinity of Ayre Square, near the town flagpole, various crafters will demonstrate their art. Woodcarving, syrup-making, basketry, wool spinning, herbal crafting, lace tatting, pottery-making, rug weaving and silhouette creating are among the demonstrations planned.
As for antiques, a large assortment will be available behind the Heart in Hand Restaurant and also in front of the town fire station on Chapel Road.
For history buffs, or those who'd like to learn more about the Civil War in the local area, the 49th Virginia Regiment will put on a Civil War encampment on Chapel Road. This highly professional group provides an interesting and accurate glimpse into the lives of some of the soldiers who fought along the railroad line from Manassas to Alexandria.
The members will discuss weaponry and demonstrate how muskets were fired, and people will also be able to see the type of clothing worn by soldiers and women in the 1860s.
Also in full swing will be the Clifton Farmers Market on Chapel Road. Visitors are encouraged to stop by early and see Market Master Deb Dillard and the other vendors for their fresh produce, not to mention handmade jewelry, honey and flowers. Dillard, a professional astrologist, will also be autographing her book, "Gift Giving By the Stars," all day, in front of the fire station.
WITH ALL THAT shopping and walking, it's easy to work up an appetite, so there'll be plenty of food at Clifton Day. Attendees may indulge in everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to soups, sandwiches, pizza and the Heart in Hand Restaurant's steaming-hot Brunswick Stew.
But that's not all. The Clifton Presbyterian Church (just past the Hermitage Inn) will offer Caesar salads and other treats, and the Clifton Store will serve box lunches.
Local Boy Scouts will sell hot apple cider, and the Girl Scouts will offer homemade baked goods. Or drop by the Clifton Coffee Mill next to the Clifton Store for gourmet tea and coffee.
Clifton Day also means lots of live, toe-tappin,' finger-snappin' music in the town park. Local bands will perform for free, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., on the Fairfax County Showmobile in the gazebo area. There'll be bluegrass music, rock, blues and roots rock — rock music mixed with blues and country — and a CD of the various bands' music will be available for purchase.
Performers will include the Colin Thompson Band, featuring Robinson Secondary students Colin Thompson on guitar and Josh Crowley on saxophone, playing rock and blues. Also entertaining the crowd will be the Jimmy Cole Blues Band. It's a Clifton Day mainstay and features Clifton's Raymond Van Lienden on harmonica.
Children's activities are also planned, including a rock-climbing wall, pony rides courtesy of the Clifton Horse Society, a moonbounce, face and hair painting, plus candy crafting (making art from candy). Various children's groups will also have fund-raising "fun tables" with crafts projects and other activities. And professional children's entertainers may also make an appearance.
Visitors are also welcome take self-guided tours through the heart of town to view its historic homes and lovely churches — including the Clifton Primitive Baptist Church. Built by freed slaves in 1869, it was Fairfax County's first black church and is at Main and Chestnut streets. For more information about Clifton Day, see www.cliftonday.com.