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Get Ready for Clifton Day

45th annual festival is Sunday, Oct. 7.

Thousands of people jammed Main Street for last year’s Clifton Day.

Thousands of people jammed Main Street for last year’s Clifton Day. Photo by Bonnie Hobbs.

— Live bands, moonbounces, handmade crafts, Civil War re-enactors, food galore, pony rides and a unicyclist — all these things and more will be part of the 45th annual Clifton Day. The festival is slated for Sunday, Oct. 7, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Rain date is Oct. 14.)

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Tall, whimsical giraffes made of packed straw and raffia were among the craft items on sale last year.

“I have a lot of fun on Clifton Day,” said event Chairman Fred Ansick. “I really enjoy seeing the smiling faces on the kids, and folks laughing and having a good day. They love the atmosphere of the town. The residents welcome everyone to see Clifton as a community — a small town in the shadows of the big city. So we want everyone to come on out and have a good time.”

The Clifton Betterment Association (CBA) puts on Clifton Day and proceeds go to the town’s nonprofit groups, including the Clifton Lions Club, Girl and Boy Scouts, Clifton Presbyterian Church, Clifton Gentleman’s Club, Clifton Woman’s Club, the CBA and Acacia Lodge.

Admission is free; parking is $5/car ($10 on the floodplain), with proceeds going to charity. “It’s the largest fund-raiser for all our local nonprofits,” said Ansick.

Sonia Dyer, 88, moved to Clifton with her family in 1964, and her daughter Bonny and oldest son Tuck went to the first Clifton Day. “It was in the old firehouse on the second floor,” she said. “There were tables with crafts and things, but that’s all there was to it. My children bought me a little, ceramic jewelry chest that I still use.”

“At the time, we didn’t think Clifton Day would amount to anything; but through the years, it just kept growing,” continued Dyer. “It’s that small-town feel Clifton has that makes it special. And I think the citizens are more involved in town activities now than they were then, so there’s more of a community feeling.”

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Strolling bagpiper Michael Ahnell entertains the crowd on Main Street.

For her family, she said, Clifton Day’s a holiday. Said Dyer: “My children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all come home for Clifton Day.” And this year, they’ll have lots of things to keep them busy.

The town park off Chapel Street will host a slew of children’s activities. JumpWorks will have inflatables and moonbounces there, Kerry the Face-Painter will decorate children’s faces and Sharon the Balloon Artist will twist colorful balloons into fanciful shapes. Local Girl and Boy Scout troops will also have booths there with games such as safe darts and beanbag toss.

The Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Academy will give pony rides near the barn behind Acacia Lodge. It will also provide a pony for petting in the park. The Unicycle Lady will perform mainly in the park, but will also do some stunts on Main Street. There’ll also be some roaming entertainment. Performing while strolling through town will be the Banjo Man and bagpiper Michael Ahnell.

The stage on Chapel Road will feature a variety of singers, dancers and musicians. At 10:30 a.m. is the Boyle School of Irish Dance; 11:30 a.m., They Call Me Piano, a local girl who sings; 12:15 p.m., Steve Hudson and his Fabulous Exaggerations, a stand-up comedian and musician who plays piano and guitar.

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Customers peruse blown-glass items at a vendor’s booth.

At 1:15 p.m. will be The Wayward Street Players music group; 2:15 p.m., The Acoustic Burgoo, a bluegrass group from Purcellville; and 3:15 p.m., The Randy Thompson Band playing modern country-rock music. Clifton resident Thompson recently returned from a music tour in Switzerland.

Artisans on Main Street’s Ayre Square will demonstrate crafts such as wood-carving, wool spinning, weaving and pottery- and basket-making. And more than 200 arts-and-crafts vendors will sell their wares throughout the town.

Items include 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.

Food will be available in several places. The Clifton Lions Club will offer hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue; Clifton Presbyterian Church, crab-cake meals, brisket meals and corndogs; Clifton Gentleman’s Club, red beans and rice, chili and chili dogs; Cub Scout Packs 1861 and 1104, cotton candy, popcorn, lemonade, cookies, candy and apple cider; Acacia Lodge, pulled pork and Italian sausage.

As for commercial food vendors, Baja Fresh will sell burritos, quesadillas and chicken, fish and shrimp tacos. Rachelle Slotnick is catering an Oktoberfest booth by the stage in front of the Clifton Town Meeting Hall on Chapel Road. It’ll offer a-la-carte, German-style food such as bratwurst, kielbasa and sauerkraut. The CBA will sell beer there, too.

Trummer’s on Main will have outside tables where people may purchase food and cocktails. Food samples will be available in front of the former Heart in Hand restaurant, which is becoming a new restaurant called Buckley’s. And Paradise Springs Winery will offer wine samples in front of the post office on Chapel Road.

Altogether, there’ll be 10 food vendors throughout the town, selling treats including kettle corn, funnel cakes and Sno-Cones. The Clifton Store and Peterson’s Ice Cream and Dog Pound will also be open for business, as will the town shops.

Antiques vendors will be behind Buckley’s, and the Acacia Lodge will have some Clifton artifacts and memorabilia on display upstairs. Also for history buffs, Civil War re-enactors Tony Meadows and the 49th Virginia Infantry will be encamped in the yard across from the stage on Chapel Road.

The American Red Cross Bloodmobile will be stationed next to the lodge, and people donating a pint of blood will be entered in a drawing for a gift certificate for door prizes.

The VRE train will run to and from Clifton, or festival attendees may park at Clifton Elementary, the floodplain, Kincheloe Road, Newman Road, and Chapel Road at Frosty Meadows. CBA-sponsored shuttles will ferry people to and from Frosty Meadows. For more information, see www.cliftonday.com.

This year’s sponsors are The Peterson Cos., Ourisman Toyota, VRE, Blackbarn Media and the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Ansick, in his sixth year as chairman, says his 10-person committee begins working on Clifton Day in January, reserving the stage and the town properties.

“Things start ramping up in April, when I get the volunteer list,” he said. “In May, June and July, we do the planning; and in September, we start praying for good weather.”