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Get Ready for Clifton Day

Forty-third annual festival is Sunday, Oct. 11.

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Banjo player Jim Haner of Williamsport, Pa. performs during last year’s Clifton Day.

Food, crafts vendors and demonstrations, Civil War re-enactors, children’s activities, live music, a petting zoo, Irish dancers and pony rides — all this and more are part of the 43rd annual Clifton Day festival. Taking place throughout the Town of Clifton, it’s slated for Sunday, Oct. 11, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Rain date is Oct. 18. Admission is free; parking, $5/car.

“It’s in a nice, rural setting and is a real family event,” said Clifton Day Chairman Fred Ansick. “There’s a little something for everyone.”

The Clifton Betterment Association (CBA) puts on the event and shares the proceeds with all the town’s nonprofit organizations, including the Clifton Lions Club, Girl and Boy Scouts, Clifton Presbyterian Church, Clifton Gentleman’s Club, Clifton Woman’s Club, the CBA and the Acacia Lodge. “It’s the largest fund raiser for all the nonprofits in Clifton,” said Ansick.

Attendees may come via the Virginia Railway Express train or park in one of the five lots, located at Clifton Elementary, the floodplain, Kincheloe Road, Newman Road and Chapel Road at Frosty Meadows. Shuttles will be available to and from the latter two lots. For more information, see www.cliftonday.com.

More than 200 vendors will be selling a variety of items, such as jewelry, candles, plant hangars, glasswork, children’s clothing, baskets, ceramics, woodworking products, furniture, mixed media, needlework, quilts, sculpture, metalwork, seasonal decorations and holiday items, sports memorabilia, toys, stained glass, and watercolor and oil paintings.

Artisans will also demonstrate how to carve wood, spin wool, weave, create pottery and silhouettes and make walking sticks, baskets and candles. They’ll be in the area of Ayre Square.

Antiques vendors will be behind the Heart in Hand restaurant and in front of the fire station on Chapel Road. “Some of them have been coming here for 20 years,” said Ansick. In addition, a flea market will be in the post office area on Chapel Road.

Civil War re-enactors Tony Meadows and the 49th Virginia Infantry will be encamped in the yard across from the Clifton Town Meeting Hall on Chapel Road. The Blue Star Mothers of America, a nonprofit group in support of those currently serving in the military, will have an information table near the Acacia Lodge. It’s a nationwide group seeking new members to start a branch in Northern Virginia.

The Clifton Lions Club will be cooking hot dogs and hamburgers near the Heart in Hand. The Hungry Mouth Café, run by the Clifton Gentlemen’s Club, will serve red beans and rice at Chapel Road and Main Street. The Clifton Presbyterian Church will offer a crab-cake dinner and the Baja Fresh will offer fish tacos on Chapel Road. The Boy Scouts will serve apple cider, lemon sticks and baked goods on Main Street and Chapel Road, and Cub Scouts will be selling cotton candy and beverages in the gazebo in the park.

Colonial Kettle Corn will be available at the corner of Pendleton Street and Chapel Road, and two vendors, one at each end of Main Street, will be selling funnel-cakes. Peterson’s Ice Cream will be open for business, as will the town shops and restaurants, and the Acacia Lodge will also serve food.

A plethora of children’s activities will be offered in the town park, off Chapel Street. A petting zoo will feature a pony, sheep, rabbits and other farm animals. Children can enjoy free face-painting, moonbounces from Jumpworks, a woman riding a unicycle and a children’s storyteller. The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Academy will give pony rides in front of the barn behind the Acacia Lodge.

Also on tap is a full slate of live entertainment on the main stage on Chapel Road. Performing will be the Irish Dancers; the Barbara Sheppard Dance Academy; Fused-Local, a rock band comprised of children 12 and under; Wayward Street Players, a string band; City Dwelling Nature-Seekers, playing acoustic rock; and headlining will be the Colin Thompson Band, performing rock and blues music.

Adding to the festivities, the Banjo Man will stroll through the streets, entertaining the crowd. “He comes from central Pennsylvania and did a great job for us last year, so we pulled him back,” said Ansick.

Also during Clifton Day, the Acacia Lodge, in conjunction with the Appalachian Bowhunters Association, will host a display of mounted, local and North American animals such as white-tailed deer, bobcats, bears, foxes, geese and waterfowl. Donations will be accepted at the door toward the renovation of the lodge’s building. The Virginia game warden will be there, and Fairfax County’s biologist will answer questions.

For years, Ansick worked the festival parking at Clifton Elementary. Then, he said, “The mayor [Tom Peterson] asked me to take over the whole show, three years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.” What makes him continue, said Ansick, is “the pleasure of serving the community. It benefits the nonprofits, the local businesses get new customers and it’s also a way to advertise our town.”

The event’s main sponsors are Ourisman Toyota, Wetland Studios and Solutions, ING and Rulyscapes, and Ansick appreciates their help, plus all the time and effort put in by the Clifton Day volunteers. He’s also proud of what the festival provides.

“We try to offer a variety of activities to interest all ages,” he said. “It’s the best day in Clifton because it’s full of smiles and good times. It’s a true, community event in which all the local residents participate, in one way or the other.”