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Clifton’s All Day Party

Annual town party could attract up to 30,000 visitors.

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Festival-goers enjoy last year's Clifton Day Festival.

For 40 years, the second Sunday in October has been set aside for Clifton Day, an annual celebration of the small town and all its wonder.

This year, in a somewhat controversial change blamed on a quirky calendar, the day-long event will take place during the first weekend.

"We need to have Clifton Day on Columbus Day weekend so kids are home from school on Monday to do the clean-up," said Clifton Betterment Association president Michelle Stein. The event, organized and sponsored by the CBA, features vendors, games, a children's area, food and music performances throughout the small town.

"The fact that this has been going on for 40 years is a testament to why it's so successful," said Town Council member Mike Anton.

Another contributing factor for the scheduling change is vendor availability.

"There are so many fall festivals around here, we were competing for vendors and police protection," Anton said. Moving to the first Sunday in October reduced that competition.

New this year will be the concentration of all vendors and activities for children in the town's park, so children can play on the new playground, enjoy the petting zoo, jump around in the moon bounce, visit vendors run by other kids and try their luck at games, Anton said.

Another favorite for the younger ones is riding the Virginia Railway Express train, which makes stops just east and west of town before arriving on Main Street.

"It's the only time of year the train stops in Clifton," Anton said. He and his family enjoy walking down to take the train into town and then walking home when they've enjoyed the festivities.

This year, the Inova Fairfax Bloodmobile will make a stop in Clifton, Stein said.

"If people donate, they'll receive a coupon for a free ice cream at the mayor's stand," she said. "Plus, we'll have a drawing at the end of the day, and people will have a chance to win dinner at the Hermitage or the Heart in Hand."

FOR THIS YEAR, the music stage has been moved in front of the Community Meeting Hall on Chapel Road, Stein said, so people can travel back and forth between the children's area and the stage and visit the vendors on Main Street in the middle.

"We will have the same arts and crafts as last year and the same people presenting awards," she said. "We're thrilled to have them back."

Clifton Day is the biggest fund raiser for various charitable organizations in town, like the Clifton Gentlemen's Club, the Lions Club, the Clifton Presbyterian Church, the Clifton Women's Club and the CBA, Stein said.

"My favorite part of the day is walking from my home on Dell Avenue and seeing Main Street full of people," she said.

CBA member Fred Ansick is the chair for Clifton Day 2007, making him responsible for overseeing all facets of the event.

"I make sure everyone has all the volunteers they need to make things run as smoothly as possible," Ansick said.

A project manager by trade, Ansick said it's a matter of following a list of action items and following a schedule.

For a town with a population around 250 people, it is anticipated that between 25,000 and 30,000 visitors will flood Clifton for the event.

Anyone driving in for Clifton Day should be advised that parking will not be available at Clifton Elementary this year.

"The School Board decided that we can't charge for parking at any of their facilities," Ansick said.