The Arlington County Fair will open to the public on Wednesday, Aug. 16, continuing a four-decade tradition.
The fair — which features games, rides, food, musical performances and fun for all ages — runs through Sunday, Aug. 20 at Thomas Jefferson Community Center.
The fair is held both outdoors, where the rides and food vendors are, and indoors, where local businesses set up shop and prizes — for everything from cheesecakes to needlework to potted plants — are awarded.
The hours for the outdoor fair activities are as follows.
- Wednesday, Aug. 16: 5-10:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Aug. 17: 5-10:30 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 18: 2-10:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 19: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (sensory friendly hours); 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 20: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (sensory friendly hours); 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
During sensory friendly hours, the fair aims to limit loud music and other noises.
Visitors can expect the traditional roundup of entertainment and competitions, as well as a variety of food and drink options. Admission is free, according to the fair’s website. Ride tickets can be purchased for $1.25 online or on site, with each ride typically costing 3-6 tickets, according to the website.
Cole Shows Amusement Company is set to provide the rides and games again this year for adrenaline junkies.
An Entertainment Tent is set to open on Saturday and Sunday to feature performances from local musicians. The fair will also host free programming for families at the Kids Court, including an obstacle course and performances by Drew Blue Shoes, a regional magician, according to an online schedule.
Fairgoers can indulge in a variety of classic fair foods like fried Oreos, funnel cakes and corn dogs from a variety of vendors and food trucks. If pie is your dessert of choice, enter the annual pie eating contest for $10.
A daily beer garden will serve the very last brews from New District Brewing Co., which closed its doors in May.
Beyond food and drinks, visitors can shop and support local businesses, which will have the opportunity to set up booths and sell their goods at the indoor market from Friday to Sunday. The Night Market, an outdoor shopping expo that began in 2022, will return on Aug. 17, from 5-10:30 p.m.
Community members are invited to showcase crafts, baked goods, foods, fine arts, photography, plants and more for the annual creative exhibits. The theme this year is, “A Fair for All,” according to the fair’s creative exhibit guide. Registrations will be accepted until Aug. 14.
The county fair is aiming to be waste-free this year. Efforts include expanding recycling and compost efforts, banning styrofoam, single-use plastic straws and ketchup packets, and encouraging car-free transportation to and from the event, according to their webpage.
Local activist Anabelle Lombard was awarded $36,000 for her leadership work with Generation Ratify, a youth organization aiming to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
The prize comes from the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which awards the prize annually to 15 Jewish teens who have made outstanding contributions through service and leadership.
In an interview with ARLnow, Lombard said receiving the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award is “monumental and also just so encouraging.”
“Getting that recognition now and saying that, yes, young people can make change, and we have supporters from who aren’t just young people, that’s really very encouraging,” the Wakefield High School graduate said.
Lombard started Generation Ratify with a group of friends in 2019 after learning that Virginia was the last state needed to approve the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The ERA, introduced in 1923, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. Since its founding, Lombard’s organization — which calls itself “the young people’s feminist movement” — has expanded from Arlington to all 50 states.
In January 2020, Virginia voted to ratify the amendment, thus crossing the three-quarters threshold necessary to pass an amendment.
“After Virginia did become the final state necessary to ratify, we moved towards the national struggle to finalize the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment, and enshrine gender equality for all people in the Constitution,” Lombard said.
The effort hit a snag, however.
The vote came nearly 40 years after the 1982 ratification deadline imposed by Congress. The U.S. Department of Justice held that it could not become part of the Constitution, even with Virginia’s vote.
Now, Lombard and Generation Ratify are on a mission to lobby for bills that would extend the deadline and make it possible to pass the 28th Amendment.
Doing so requires education and advocacy, she says.
“There’s not a ton of people talking about the ERA,” she said. “I think that’s the first struggle, is that most people think that we actually have the ERA or some version of it.”
To raise awareness and put political pressure on lawmakers, Generation Ratify has hosted virtual workshops to teach young activists about the amendment and shut down Constitution Avenue to demand the ERA’s addition to the Constitution.
Lombard and her peers have organized lobbying days, walkouts and filed two Amicus briefs.
Lombard emphasized that Generation Ratify represents a new era of young activists from all backgrounds.
“Before we started to get involved, the ERA activism world was not diverse at all,” she said. “It’s a lot of older white women, really, and they often push queer liberation and reproductive healthcare to the side when talking about the ERA to really appeal to a wider crowd.”
The young activist contends these issues are “pivotal” to how intersectional this amendment could be. She says Generation Ratify is the only ERA-specific organization that is vocal about involving the LGBTQ+ community, and that inclusivity was on display at the ERA Centennial Convention in Seneca Falls, New York on July 21.
Generation Ratify partnered with two other ERA organizations to put on the event, which celebrated those who have fought for the ERA for 100 years and are finalizing the federal ERA and launching the grassroots fight for a New York state ballot initiative.
That members of Generation Ratify now number more than 13,000, and that the organization co-hosted a national event in the historical home of women’s rights activism, is a far cry from its humble origins.
“It’s really grown from a couple of kids in Arlington, so that’s pretty amazing,” Lombard said.
Looking to enjoy “Barbie” while reliving those childhood slumber parties with your best friends? Alamo Drafthouse has you covered.
This Friday and Saturday, movie-goers can get dressed up in their pajamas and bring their pillows to the Crystal City location of the theater for late-night screenings of the blockbuster film. There will be Barbie-themed concessions, merchandise and photo ops.
“With this ‘Barbie’ movie, because we’re trying to appeal to girls and women of all ages, we really want to bring back that kind of fun and nostalgia that we have from when we were kids, having sleepovers with our best friends,” said Megan Hia, the marketing and events manager for the D.C.-area locations of Alamo Drafthouse.
Hia says the “Barbie” slumber parties will be “rowdy showings,” with relaxed talking rules that allow for guests to express their feelings about the film and chat with friends. As a bonus, there should be air conditioning.
Barbie-themed booze will also be flowing. Alamo will have a kölsch called “The Babe” on tap from local brewpub Nighthawk Brewery as well as two specialty drinks: “Dream Summer ’80” and the “Dream Summer ’59.”
For Alamo Drafthouse, the event is one way Alamo is keeping the excitement for “Barbie” alive. The film had a massive $162 million opening weekend at the box office — making it the most successful first weekend of any film this year.
Hia says attendance rates for this movie in Arlington and D.C. are already on-par with well-attended movies pre-pandemic. She observed many moviegoers come in pink outfits and pose for photos outside the theaters.
“There’s so much excitement around it and you can really, really see that,” Hia said. “To have people come in costume and dress up — and dress up in pink for the ‘Barbie’ movie — that’s all about building that experience and celebrating the movies that are coming, and that’s really what the Alamo is all about.”
Tickets for the slumber party screening of “Barbie” at the Crystal City location, at 1660 Crystal Drive, are available on the theater’s website. There are still several tickets available for Friday night at $21 and a few for Saturday at $14.
Those seeking an escape from the midsummer heat experienced the opposite this weekend in the Regal Cinema in Ballston.
The theater at Ballston Quarter mall is suffering an extended outage of its air conditioning, just as droves of moviegoers flocked to the big screen starting Thursday for the highly anticipated release of Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” — dubbed “Barbenheimer” for their shared release date.
“As of Thursday aka the release of Barbenheimer madness, the air conditioning was nonfunctional at the Ballston theater,” said a Yelp reviewer. “We checked out the theater, and it felt like 85 degrees in there.”
The theater is “unbearably hot,” according to a Google review posted Sunday.
While the outage has been ongoing for several weeks, according to tipsters, the informal double feature cast a spotlight on the uncomfortable situation.
Even the New York Times mentioned the Ballston theater’s plight in a discussion about the success of “Barbie,” for which Gerwig now holds the record for the highest-grossing opening in history for a female director.
Some movie-lovers stayed despite the heat, while others took advantage of refunds and vouchers Regal offered to those who chose not to stay.
Asked for comment, the general manager of the theater referred ARLnow to Regal’s corporate team. The company did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.
Regal’s owner, CineWorld, is also feeling the heat financially. The company filed for bankruptcy in September 2022 due to increased financial pressure caused by the pandemic.
CineWorld anticipated ticket sales to remain lower than pre-pandemic levels over the next year, though “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are providing a much-needed boost to the theater industry as a whole.
The two films raked in $155 million and $80.5 million respectively in their opening weekend. Between internet buzz and massive media campaigns, their performance exceeded projections and marked the biggest weekend at the box office this year.
Cinemas may face doldrums further down the road, however. Actors and writers have gone on strike, halting the production of numerous movies and TV shows.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza.
Arlington County will pay early-stage tech startups money to keep their operations in Arlington.
The intent is to support new tech startups, particularly those owned by women, veterans and minorities, while pushing down office vacancy rates.
The Arlington County Board gave the Arlington Economic Development (AED) the go-ahead to enact this program, dubbed the Catalyst Grant Program, last Tuesday.
AED will be using $650,000 of the $1 million it received in the 2024 Fiscal Year budget for its Arlington Innovation Fund, an initiative by AED to entice companies to fill vacant offices in the county.
“What we are trying to achieve with this is to provide capital to early stage tech startups that are based in Arlington currently,” Ryan Touhill, director of Arlington Economic Development, told ARLnow. “[The goal is] to really help them in the early stage of their company formation when when they’ve raised the money, and try to give them a boost to really accelerate their growth and to entice them to stay here in Arlington.”
Companies will receive anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 in funding from the program, contingent on them remaining in Arlington for at least two years. By attracting smaller businesses, AED hopes to drive down vacancy rates, which reached 23% in the first quarter of 2023.
“We know that tech companies are one of the drivers of job growth,” Touhill said. “We have a good number of tech companies here in Arlington, and we want to grow the number of home based companies that form here and grow here.”
He noted that AED is targeting these smaller, newer companies because larger, legacy ones are not looking to relocate at this time.
AED is focused on what it calls inclusive economic development. To that end, it says it is focused on generating interest in this program among entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities and would like to see half of the Catalyst Grant Program applications come woman-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses.
“If you look at the trends, you’ll see that underserved communities receive way less in terms of the number of deals and the amount of venture capital they get compared to their white counterparts,” Adam Henry, a senior business development manager at AED, told ARLnow.
“We really want to make an intentional, concerted effort to reach out to our underserved communities to make sure that we can become a model for other communities to have the inclusive economic development approach,” he continued.
The county economic development division says it will partner with various community universities, organizations and groups to reach out to entrepreneurs and small businesses, according to a report. The application period could open as early as August.
Winners could be announced this fall. If any funds remain, there will be a second application cycle this winter or next spring.
The grants can be used to pay for costs such as salaries, benefits, training and recruitment, research and development, commercial real estate and equipment, the report said.
In 1922, Clarendon almost became a town.
The rallying cry was the neighborhood slogan, “Do it for Clarendon,” says local historian Sean Denniston.
Arlington County, formerly within the borders of what was then called Alexandria County, got its name in 1920, to avoid confusion with the City of Alexandria. Twenty years prior, however, residents already saw Clarendon as its own town.
Proud residents, unified by the “Do it for Clarendon” spirit, built their own town hall, volunteer fire department and schools, and created their own phone book, Denniston told people who came to his lecture on this little-known piece of Arlington history. He gave the talk on Tuesday at Arlington Central Library in Virginia Square.
By 1922, the population swelled to around 2,500 people, mostly comprised of white families, he said. (As noted by the Gazette Leader, “Restrictive covenants on the original land sales ensured that Clarendon at the time was an all-white community.”)
In addition to standing up their own municipal services, local residents formed the Clarendon Civic Association — with membership restricted to adult men — and formed audit and public order committees.
These neighborhood leaders began to chafe against what they considered to be a non-cooperative and unhelpful government, Denniston said. They criticized the county for being unable to provide for the good of the community, citing the lack of robust water and sewage systems and poor roads.
“Bennett v. Garrett was really a fight between Clarendon and county interests — and to put it nicely, majority interests,” Denniston said. “Really, minority interests were not given much mind except to bolster one or other arguments.”
Incorporating as a town was a way to break free from this. They proposed boundaries stretching from N. Veitch Street to N. Quincy Street, an area of about 702 acres, and housing the town hall in what is today Northside Social on Wilson Blvd.
“Feeling that they’d been doing their own show for a long time, trying to become their own town seemed like a logical next step,” Denniston said. “[Clarendon residents] feared that the district would get autocratic control, and that they’d have no stake in future planning.”
The Clarendonians took their case to court, where they argued that Clarendon was separate and distinct from other neighborhoods in Arlington. They said the neighborhood could afford to be self-sufficient and the majority of residents supported incorporating as a town.
When the local courts struck down their case, they appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.
In Bennett v. Garrett, the state ruled against the Clarendon residents. The court said forming an independent municipality would not promote the general good. This case set forth the precedent Arlington would not be subdivided in any way because it is “continuous, contiguous and homogeneous.”
That legacy can be felt today, in Arlington’s distinct communities and “urban villages” making up the nation’s smallest self-governing county.
Denniston mused that, while Clarendon’s secession attempt failed, the saga may have galvanized an imperfect understanding of how Arlington is, or is not, homogeneous.
“In no danger of new towns, is [Arlington’s] county structure, cost of living and changing demographics excluding ethnic and economic voices?” Denniston asked. “While the town of Clarendon and county elites weren’t worried about such things, we do care about ‘One Arlington.'”
Arlington County is seeking $1.9 million in federal funding to plant trees on school grounds and in neighborhoods with less tree canopy.
The funding will help maintain 4,400 trees, plant 400 additional trees and treat 138 acres of invasive species, a county report said. If the county receives the funding, tree planting could begin as soon as next summer.
On Saturday, the Arlington County Board retroactively approved an application county staff filed with the federal government last month. The funding would come from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, via a grant program supporting local efforts to address tree canopy and green space shortages in underserved communities and mitigate the effects of climate change.
With the grant, the county says it is “seeking to improve the livability of neighborhoods with historic and current tree equity deficits.”
While Arlington has an overall tree canopy level of 41%, it varies significantly by neighborhood, according to a 2017 county report. More urban and historically disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to have lower canopy levels, some below 20%, while wealthier, less dense neighborhoods had levels exceeding 70%.
A 2023 citizen-funded study suggests these canopy levels could be even lower.
Last year, the local nonprofit EcoAction Arlington embarked on a multi-year effort to tackle these inequities. The county says the federal funding would boost this effort while also halving the current 16-year turnaround time for pruning and maintaining its 19,500 street trees.
“This turnaround time is too long to proactively reduce risk from tree or branch failure, which often affects lower income residents more,” the county report said.
“Plant healthcare will prevent or delay tree decline, particularly of trees at risk from invasive species and the impact of climate change,” it continued. “It will help save mature trees, which have significant embodied carbon and provide the greatest ecosystem service to our community.”
Plantings will target neighborhoods with an “equity score” below 100, according to the forest conservation group American Forests. The nonprofit has a map showing Arlington’s varying tree canopy levels and how that maps onto other indicators, such as socioeconomic diversity.
The county will also focus planting efforts on school properties, which have low tree canopy levels owing to black tops and large buildings. It says Arlington schools have an average tree canopy level of 23%, while green space makes up less than 25% of land.