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Family Fun at Springfield Days

Annual festival is scheduled for June 2 and 3.

Bringing rides, entertainment, a parade, an art show and a cardboard boat regatta, the Springfield Days festival returns June 2 and 3.

The Family Festival, including stage entertainment and children’s rides, games and activities will take place in the parking lot of Springfield Plaza Shopping Center. Entertainment acts will vary widely, said Nancy-jo Manney of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, which helps to organize the event. Among the 17 acts scheduled, she said, will be an accordion society, cloggers, Chinese dragon dancers, the step-dance group Step Africa, martial arts demonstrations, and bluegrass, mariachi and steel drum bands. Karaoke contest take place Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

"They’re all kind of intermixed. You do one thing, and then you do a 180–degree turn and you have something completely different on stage," said Manney, noting that Springfield is an ethnically diverse area and that organizers wanted to appeal to all ages and cultures. Many acts will be from local dance academies, martial arts schools and other organizations.

Ten children’s amusement rides will be on the site, said Tawny Hammond, manager of Lake Accotink Park. The Fairfax County Park Authority played a large role in planning the event. Hammond said there will also be a game corridor, an arts and crafts area, dessert vendors and a "community corridor" with tents set up by local vendors and other organizations. The Park Authority, for example, will have live native animals at its booth.

The festival will kick off with a parade through the heart of Springfield on Saturday, at 10 a.m., led by Paws on Parade, "our contingent of marching canines," said Manney. Following the dogs and their owners will be over 30 units, including schools, musical groups, floats, scout troops, costumed characters, various dignitaries, an antique Metrobus. Springfield Youth Cheerleaders and others, said Manney. She noted that the parade route will change this year. "The last six of eight years it’s been through a residential neighborhood, and we decided to move it into the commercial area," she said. This year’s parade will begin heading east on Monticello Boulevard from Hanover Avenue, turn left on Commerce Street, turn right on Amherst Avenue and then right on Bland Street, and will end at Springfield Plaza.

THROUGHOUT THE DAY on Saturday, local artists will display and sell their work. Skeeter Scheid of the Springfield Art Guild said 10 to 20 artists will be setting up booths in the breezeway next to EmbroiderMe in Springfield Plaza. This will be a juried show, with judging in the afternoon and prize money to be distributed. Schied said an abundance of watercolor and oil paintings will be for sale, and possibly some sculpture and arts and crafts. "You can get original art for the price of a fake painting."

After Saturday’s festival, the computer-animated movie "Over the Hedge" will be shown in the Silver Diner parking lot at Springfield Mall at 8:45 p.m.

Contestants in the cardboard Boat Regatta will hop into their homemade watercraft and race for the cup Sunday afternoon at Lake Accotink Park. "It’s very well attended because we’ve been doing it for years and years, and it’s kind of the cap-off to Springfield Days," said Manney. The regatta has been running for 18 years — almost as long as Springfield Days has existed.

Hammond said she is expecting between 50 and 100 entries in the regatta, which will be divided into 20 to 30 heats. Contestants compete within age groups, and there is also a parent-and-child race category and separate races for "sports craft" and "luxury liners" — boats over 16 feet long. The watercraft and their sailors will also be judged in categories such as "pride of the regatta," "best costume" and "Titanic" (most likely to sink), and trophies will be distributed.

Judging will begin at noon, and the races will start at 2 p.m. Registration costs $15 through May 31, and $25 from June 1 until noon June 3. Hammond said food vendors and music will also be at the regatta site.

In years past, a Miss Springfield pageant has kicked off the festival. However, Manney said there will be no pageant this year because no volunteer stepped up to run the event.