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VAs largest music festival
By Lisa and Robert Limerick
The 29th Annual Celebrate Fairfax Festival was held June 11 -13 at the Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, VA. The festival started out as the Fairfax Fair and the success of the event led to the creation of Celebrate Fairfax in 1982 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The event has an average attendance of 60,000 people and from the looks of the midway on Saturday afternoon it appears to have been another stellar year with beautiful weather contributing to the success. Celebrate Fairfax has become known as Virginia,s largest music and entertainment festival with five stages of singing, dancing and other forms of art.
Amusements of America provided the midway for the three day festival. AOA brought all of their usual ride lineup including the Wave Swinger, the Giant Wheel, Ring Of Fire, Fun Slide, Scooters, Tornado, the Crazy Mouse, Rock and Roll (a neat oldies themed Himalaya with a car coming out of the front of it) and the Space Roller made its Fairfax debut to rave reviews. Celebrate,s event board and AOA had a very special Kidway Midway setup to separate the children and adult rides. Some of the Kidway rides were the Go Gators, Froghopper, Mini Train, Wacky Worm, and a Merry Go Round along with many others. Amusements of America have been traveling the country since 1939 and play over 100 events a year. AOA proudly holds the Guinness Book of World Record as the largest traveling amusement park in the world.
Being the largest music festival in Virginia means you have to pull out all the stops when booking musical acts and this year Celebrate Fairfax booked some great acts. Acts ranged from Bluegrass to Heavy Metal. Headliners at the festival included Jimmy Wayne and Josh Thompson, two up and coming country music acts. They performed Friday evening and KC And The Sunshine Band performed Saturday night. Jimmy Wayne has had several hits on the radio such as I Will, Stay Gone, and Do You Believe Me Now. Wayne took time off of his Nashville to Phoenix 1700-mile walk that he is currently doing to bring awareness to foster children who age out at 18. Josh Thompson, an up and coming Country Music artist performed his hit Beer on the Table along with music from his debut album released in February. The main headliner of the Festival was KC and the Sunshine Band. They played all of their popular hits including Get Down Tonight and That,s The Way I Like It, other acts this year included Carolina Liar and Nocturnal Rush. Nocturnal Rush is a band made up of all 14-year olds that play rock and punk music.
There were a total of five stages at the event including the main concert stage. Entertainers ranged from folk music to dance troupes from all over the area performing dances from all over the world. The second annual Fairfax Karaoke Championship was held with the winner receiving a top prize of $1500 dollars and wow, there were some talented performers. One stage was all children,s performers with storytellers, singers, dancers and even a few nationally televised acts. Sandra Scott of Arlington commented while watching her kids sing along to one of the performers "you can not find better entertainment then at this event, there is so much to do that if your kid gets bored with one thing you can just find something else to do".
Celebrate Fairfax held activities for all age groups from toddlers to senior citizens. There was a children,s activity area sponsored by ExxonMobil, petting zoos, arts and crafts, and a SciTech Center where children and adults alike could learn about such things as the human body and the weather. One of the most popular events in the children,s area was the Trackless Train that went through the event and taught children about eating and living healthy. Mobile Mini Golf was a popular event this year; guests had a chance to putt like the pros at the traveling Putt-Putt game. Each hole had its own setup for easy assembly and teardown.
Celebrate Fairfax was not a place for folks on a diet. There were over 40 food vendors on hand to tempt even the strongest willed people. Not only did Amusements Of America have all of their normal delicious fair foods but restaurant such as Ruth,s Chris Steakhouse, Baja Fresh, Sticky Bones BBQ with their tasty ribs and pork sandwiches, Mac,s Donuts, and Rudy,s Slush Factory with over ten flavors of slushy,s to choose from were present. Rudy,s had an extremely busy day on the second day of the event with temperatures soaring above 90 degrees and heat indexes at nearly 105 by mid afternoon.
After all the food fairgoers had many healthy ways to work some of the calorie overload off. Gold,s Gym had a high energy workout show to get guest heart pumping and there was a bike to the fair day where guest were encouraged to leave their vehicles at home and take their bikes to the fair to help themselves and the environment.
A new event this year was a Scavenger Hunt with the top prize of $500. Contestants were given a booklet of clues that, once solved, led them to various places on the midway and festival grounds. Each correct location had a stamp and stamp pad and you had to mark your booklet at the correct spot. We participated in the Scavenger Hunt and surprisingly, won it. I was as shocked as anyone could have been and it was an excellent was to see the fairgrounds and everything the event had to offer.
Other activities at Celebrate Fairfax this year included the Mutual of Omaha,s Wild Kingdom Tour which brought several exciting species of animals to the event that most people in the community wouldn,t otherwise have a chance to observe in this climate.
Comedy Hypnotist Blaze wowed crowds throughout the event with his hilarious family-friendly comedy and hypnotizing act. Reptiles Alive had several live shows with creatures of the wild such as alligators, crocodiles, and squiggly slimy snakes. Washington Redskin cornerback Deangelo Hall was on hand for a few hours to sign autographs and meet guests. Fairgoers also enjoyed a craft show with over twenty vendors and 100 other exhibitors advertising and showing off their homemade crafts. A fireworks display lit up the festival and bought the crowd great amazement with the high powered show.
Celebrate Fairfax will celebrate their 30th anniversary next year and special events are being planned for the occasion.