The Arlington County Fair is set to kick off this Wednesday and run through Sunday, Aug. 21.
As usual (though it was not without some debate) the fair is being held at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, at 3501 2nd Street S. It is free to attend and open to the whole family.
Apart from the usual food and craft vendors, competitive exhibits and amusement rides, we’ve compiled a list of some lesser-known fair features this year.
1. Axe throwing
Fairgoers can try their hands at axe throwing inside a mobile trailer operated by Odyssey Mobile Adventures. Coaches are set to be present. Those interested need to first buy tickets on site, which are priced at $10 for 10 throws.
2. Escape room
The same company that runs the axe throwing is also set to provide an escape room for those interested in testing their problem solving abilities. Tickets are priced at $20 per group of a maximum of five people. Both activities are scheduled to be open all week.
3. Sensory hour
A new feature this year, this hour is set to happen between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday (Aug. 20). During the hour, the fair plans to eliminate loud noises and music so that patrons may enjoy the fair without feeling overwhelmed.
This is a collaboration effort with the county’s Therapeutic Recreation Office, which focuses on providing equal access in recreation programs, like the fair, to individuals of differing needs and abilities. Sensory break tent areas are also scheduled at different hours over the weekend, according to an Arlington County Fair Instagram post.
4. Beer (and rosé) garden
This year’s beer garden is a partnership with Arlington-based New District Brewing Company. Beers on tap include an IPA, pilsner, kettle sour and hard seltzer. For wine drinkers, a Virginia winery is providing its 2021 La Grange rosé as well this year.
The garden is set to open throughout the week, with a special trivia night on Thursday. Packs of beer and wine tickets may be purchased in advance.
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 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
When Marine veteran Brendan McElroy started working on the sales side of the consulting industry, he quickly realized that although he enjoyed the more interactive part of his job, he did not like the “typical consulting-sales model.”
McElroy described the model as consultants “[complicating] people’s problems.”
As a result in 2019, he founded and became the CEO of the management consulting company called Franklin Consulting, LLC. A year later in April, it merged with the Seattle-based consulting firm T.S. Marshall & Associates, Inc., which specialized in professional training and coaching.
Out of the venture, Ballston-based Franklin IQ was formed, according to a news release. Franklin IQ provides services in several areas of management consultancy, including strategic planning, employee engagement and workforce planning, according to its website.
“Our real passion is working with leaders on things like organizational development, leader development, learning and developing, or managing massive complex changes like return to work or employee engagement,” McElroy said.
What distinguishes Franklin IQ from other consulting firms is its mindset, he believes. “We don’t start with a product and say, ‘Hey, can you buy my product?'” Instead, his company first seeks to “understand the issue” in order to “offer unique and tailored approaches” to solve his clients’ issues.
Similarly, the consulting firm uses a nontraditional way of hiring people, relying less on putting up job notices and waiting for people to answer. There are 18 people working full-time, as well as a network of experts in different subject matters for different projects, McElroy said.
“Everyone around here kind of does it the same way, it’s tough to do this in a labor market where you’re recruiting through fairly traditional means,” he said about hiring practices.
Encouraged by the methods used in many Silicon Valley startups, McElroy said he believes in the importance of everyone in his company to network, especially in connecting with experts in different fields.
The firm’s approach appears to be working.
During the pandemic, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs requested the company’s consultancy on PTSD treatment, sexual assault response and prevention, as well as suicide prevention for about 600 veteran health clinics in the United States. Franklin IQ helped transition the clinics from primarily conducting face-to-face interactions to a virtual environment.
“We’ve really gone from the point where we’re really focused on communications outreach to now we’re training on really complex and modern therapeutic techniques for how to diagnose and treat mental health issues,” McElroy said.
Currently, around 40% of the company’s clients are from the defense industry, another 40% from federal healthcare and the rest are miscellaneous private businesses, McElroy estimates. Franklin IQ has provided consulting services to the first two sectors for the longest, McElroy said. The company has worked with over 45 government agencies, according to its website.
Even though it is now based in Arlington, McElroy’s company started off in nearby Alexandria. As a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, the consulting firm got its start by joining the national Bunker Labs program which supports veteran-owned businesses.
The annual summer Restaurant Week is a week away.
The regional event will be held between Monday, Aug. 15, and Sunday, Aug. 21 and is currently set to feature nearly a dozen Arlington restaurants.
During the event, the participating restaurants are expected to offer lunches for $25 and dinners for either $40 or $55.
The participating Arlington restaurants include:
- Big Buns Damn Good Burgers (Ballston and Shirlington) — serving burgers, burger bowls, cocktails, shakes and fries. Menu not yet released.
- Epic Smokehouse (Pentagon City) — will offer a three-course meal, charging $25 for lunch and $55 for dinner.
- La Cote d’Or Café (East Falls Church) — three-course menus of traditional French cuisine, priced at $25 for lunch and $40 or $55 for dinner.
- McCormick & Schmick’s (Crystal City) — a seafood restaurant that offers a $55 dinner option. Menu not yet released.
- Mussel Bar and Grill (Ballston) — a Belgian restaurant offering three-course menus at $25 for lunch and $40 for dinner.
- Osteria da Nino (Shirlington) — three-course meals of Italian cuisine, priced at $40 for dinner.
- Ruthie’s All-Day (Arlington Heights) — the award-winning restaurant that specializes in Southern cuisine will offer $40 and $55 dinner options. Menu not yet released.
- SER Restaurant (Ballston) — three-course meals of Spanish cuisine, priced at $25 for lunch and $40 for dinner.
The Freshman (Crystal City) – a café that serves bar food, sandwiches and pastas. Menu not yet released.
- The Melting Pot (Ballston) — three-course menus of fondues, priced at $40 for dinner and $5 extra per person for a chocolate fondue.
- Yume Sushi (East Falls Church) — five-course menu of Japanese cuisine for $55 per dinner.
Some of the restaurants listed above are pairing their meals with wine or cocktails. All the eateries, except The Melting Pot, offer delivery, takeout or outdoor spaces in addition to indoor dining.
Organized by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, which also hosted the RAMMY awards, the event is sponsored by public and private groups, such as the D.C. Mayor’s Office, the National Landing Business Improvement District and Airbnb, according to its website.
Over 200 restaurants from the D.C. metropolitan area are participating this year, according to a RAMW tweet.
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 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
The Arlington-based mobile app Sandboxx plans to roll out a new chatroom feature for military recruits and their families, in an attempt to increase communication and minimize dropouts.
Sandboxx plans to introduce “Muster” within a month.
The chatroom, which aims to mimic Slack, is for individual military recruiting stations for recruiters and new recruits in the delayed entry program, Sam Meek, app founder and veteran, told ARLnow.
The goal of Muster is to make sure that its users would be “getting that comradery experience in our military journey before basic training,” Meek said. Moreover, this new feature aims to help military recruiters measure the engagement of recruits in those programs.
The mobile app, profiled by ARLnow in 2016, is a communications app that lets family and friends write and send letters to their loved ones in basic training, as well as allowing military members to connect with other units.
Other recently added features include the digital wallet. That addition allows military members to receive gift cards from relatives and friends for purchases at the military exchange stores during basic training and beyond.
The new feature is an attempt to bring back the fellowship among new recruits that diminished during the pandemic.
Prior to Covid hitting, “a lot of our folks in the recruiting stations would get together once a week or once a month, and they work out and they talk about the ethos of the military journey,” Meek said.
However, once the pandemic arrived, those meetings disappeared. “Sandboxx is bringing back this kind of digital comradery,” he said. The new feature would also allow families and friends of each recruit to form a chat group in the app, where Sandboxx would upload information about the military.
“Not only can [users] read that, but they can communicate it and talk about it directly in their Muster chat,” Meek added.
Keeping new recruits engaged and reducing dropout rates are major goals for Sandboxx.
“One of the things we’re doing is making sure that we can keep really high engagement and we can help those recruiters keep those young 18-year-old and 19-year-old men and women in the delayed entry program and make sure they shift to basic training,” Meek said.
He added that preventing recruits from dropping out is “the biggest uphill battle” military recruiters are facing currently. Recruitment is also another challenge due to the pandemic and high employment rates.
Currently, the U.S. military is not recruiting enough people into most of its service branches. The Department of Defense has only attracted a total rate of 85% recruits across the Army, Navy, the Marine Corps, Air Force and Space Force in fiscal year 2022.
Sandboxx is expected to keep up the new service member’s interest in the military by communicating with each recruit’s family and friends about benefits of joining the military.
“When that individual, if they do get cold feet and they start to get a little nervous about the military journey, the friends and family around them can assure them that this was a fabulous decision,” Meek said.
The Navy Federal Credit Union branch in the Williamsburg Shopping Center is moving.
The branch at 6402 Williamsburg Blvd is expected to close after relocating to a new location at 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn later this month, according to an email sent to customers this week.
It will become a full-service branch at the new location in Rosslyn and is scheduled to open on Monday, Aug. 29, said Amber Southard, a spokesperson for the credit union.
Southard noted that the opening date could change. She did not respond to ARLnow’s question about why the branch is moving.
The new location in Rosslyn is on the ground floor of the Deloitte building, near the entrance to Key Bridge.
Navy Federal Credit Union offers banking and loan services mainly to active members of the military, veterans and their families. The company has four branches in Arlington, including branches in Ballston, in Crystal City and inside the Pentagon, according to its website.
Photo via Google Maps
The newly-constructed Azure Dream Day Spa in Ballston is set to hold a grand opening celebration next Friday, Aug. 12.
The spa is located at 901 N. Quincy Street, a short walk away from the Ballston Metro station, in an extensively renovated, stand-alone building that used to house Sichuan Wok.
The Chinese restaurant closed in 2018.
The grand opening is scheduled to be held between 5-9 p.m. next Friday. The event is set to include tours of the facility, as well as live music, raffles, food and drinks, and discounts on services, according to an event listing.
The spa was founded in 2010 by Arash Hosseinzadeh and Leila Espari, a certified electrologist, according to its website. It was previously located in the Courthouse area but moved to its present location in Ballston in May this year, co-owner Leila Espari tells ARLnow.
The spa provides a range of services, including facials, hair removal, massage and nail care. It is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and until 5 p.m. on weekends.
She’s a poet and wouldn’t you know it, her verse skills have earned her lots of bills.
Dr. Holly Karapetkova, the county’s Poet Laureate and an English professor at Marymount University, received the American Academy of Poets Laureate Fellowship on Tuesday (Aug 2).
The $50,000 prize Karapetkova received is set to fund one of her projects to publish an anthology of poems from young residents in Arlington, with submissions currently open to local high school students, according press releases from Marymount University and Arlington County.
The theme is set to focus on resilience and the anthology is expected to be published in spring next year, according to a submission form.
Besides publishing the poems, Karapetkova’s project also includes holding readings and workshops with the selected poets, alongside designing lesson plans for instruction.
The poet is collaborating with two nonprofits from the area for this project. One is the D.C.-based Words Beats and Life, which uses hip hop to educate young people on the arts. The other is the publisher Day Eight, which is also based in the District.
The project has also received funding from Arlington Arts, according to Marymount’s news release.
Karapetkova was “honored” and thanked the academy for awarding her the fellowship, adding on social media that she would work to “lift up the voices of [her] county’s amazing young poets.”
I'm honored to announce that I've been selected as a Poet Laureate Fellow by the Academy of American Poets. I'll be working with Arlington Youth Laureates to lift up the voices of my county's amazing young poets. Thank you, Academy of American Poets! https://t.co/x1E4G32srz
— Holly Karapetkova (@HollyKarapetkov) August 2, 2022
“In times of distress, poetry provides a language for our hurt and frustration and an outlet for our expression of grief and anger. It can provide a means for healing,” Karapetkova said in a statement.
She has been Arlington’s poet laureate since 2020, the second after Katherine E. Young, who was appointed in 2016.
During her time in the post, Karapetkova organized the exhibition Visual Verse in 2020, where poems from different poet laureates were projected onto the side of buildings around Arlington for a month. She also judged a poetry competition and participated in readings at different music festivals.
The Poets Laureate Fellowship was launched in 2019 by the academy, which aimed to support the fellows’ public poetry programs and the nonprofits collaborating with them, according to its news release. This year, a total of 22 poets laureate of different cities and states were chosen. In Virginia, apart from Karapetkova, the poet laureate from Alexandria, KaNikki Jakarta, was also chosen.
Arlington County lauded the laurels bestowed upon its laureate.
“This Award will help support our Poet Laureate’s efforts to amplify the voices of the next generation of poets in Arlington and is a priceless gift to our community,” said Arlington Cultural Affairs Director Michelle Isabelle-Stark.
The ribbon was cut Monday for Amazon’s new “AWS Think Big Space,” a STEM-focused tech lab, at Wakefield High School.
The lab is located on the ground floor of the school at 1325 S. Dinwiddie Street and is divided into several technology stations, including 3D printing, E-sports, cybersecurity, virtual reality, coding robots Sphero and robotics.
Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera, APS Superintendent Francisco Duran, School Board Chair Reid Goldstein and County Board member Matt de Ferranti all gave speeches at the opening ceremony and joined the lab tour.
Many of the officials believed that the new lab would better prepare students for future careers in STEM.
“We truly believe in the necessity and the importance of creating opportunities for our students,” Duran said in his speech.
“In Arlington County, there are many businesses and jobs that are available to students who leave our school system not prepared to enter into that workforce. It’s our duty, it’s our responsibility to create those skills and pathways for students to be able to access those jobs,” he added.
Wendy Maitland, a teacher at Wakefield High School, is set to become the manager of the lab. She planned to offer the space to teachers there to assist in their teaching.
“For example, if they want to do something in terms of astronomy, they can come down and use the program on the VR,” Maitland said.
She also is planning joint programs with the nearby Barcroft Elementary School at the lab. Other Arlington schools are also expected to use the space.
Maitland approached Amazon for funding to create a STEM lab two years ago. Donor and local apartment building owner Ralph Johnson joined her effort, she added.
“We created a presentation, they liked it and they came back to us and said, ‘Yes, work with our AWS team because they have the Think Big Spaces,'” Maitland said.
Amazon chose to build its Think Big Space at Wakefield because the high school is the “neighborhood high school” for employees working at Amazon HQ2, Arlington School Board Chair Reid Goldstein said.
“At Amazon, we’re proud to call Virginia home, we’re committed to making a positive impact in the communities where we’re located,” Amazon’s Vice President of Economic Development Holly Sullivan said in her speech.
Wakefield High School is also the most diverse high school in Arlington and the second most in Virginia, Guidera said, adding that she believed building the STEM lab there would be “a great opportunity” — especially for children from underrepresented communities — to access “innovative spaces like [the lab] that make learning comes alive and also expose students to the future of work.”
Although no concrete plans have been drawn up yet, Amazon is considering exchange programs for students engaged in the 35 Think Big Spaces across the world, including India and Ireland, Sullivan said.
The lab will operate as a public-private partnership, with financial support from large local employers like Amazon, Guidera said.
Amazon contributed $150,000 and Johnson gave $109,000 to build this lab. The School Board approved its construction last October, according to School Board documents.
A similar lab funded by Amazon was built at an elementary school in Prince William County is 2019, but Wakefield’s is the first to be built in a high school in the Americas, according to material from a School Board presentation.
Locals now have a chance to enjoy different coastal-inspired installations and outdoor activities in Crystal City this summer.
The National Landing Business Improvement District launched the NaLa Beach Club on Wednesday (July 27), opening several pop-up installations near Long Bridge Park to the public. The installations include two sandboxes, a cabana and an Airstream caravan.
It’s located at 101 12th Street S., a grassy area near Long Bridge Park known as Gateway Green that’s eventually set for redevelopment.
NaLa Beach Club will be hosting a series of dog- and family-friendly events over the next couple of months, including:
- Aug. 10: a Yacht Rock dance party between 5-8 p.m. featuring performances by local music groups as well as food and mocktails
- Aug. 17: Mermaid Landing, a mermaid-themed event between 2-6 p.m. featuring kid-friendly crafts, games and snow cones
- Aug. 24: Latin Beach Party, a salsa class accompanied by live music, food and mocktails
- Sep. 7: Bark at the Beach, an event geared towards dogs between 5-7 p.m.
- Sep. 14: Sunset Hour, the last event of the NaLa Beach Club scheduled between 5-9 p.m., featuring live music, food and giveaways.
All the events are free to attend. However, because of limited space, those interested need to first register for the salsa class online.
The NaLa Beach Club follows the similar Summer House pop-up last year. Last year’s installation at Gateway Green was designed as a beach-themed outdoor work and social space, as well as a venue for weekly events.
The beach club aims to “bring the community together and engage with local and small businesses,” according to a press release.
“With the success of last year’s Summer House installation and events, we wanted to bring that same energy and excitement back to the community this summer,” said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president of the BID.
Ballston Quarter is set to hold a free food festival featuring international cuisine this Saturday (July 30) at its food court.
Ballston Quarter Food Fest is set to be held at the plaza of the mall, adjacent to the Quarter Market food hall, between noon and 4 p.m., according to the event’s webpage.
The event is expected to feature different restaurants at the food court providing food from around world, including Mexican and Japanese among others. No registration is required, spokesperson for the event Ali Zeliff said.
Attendees will receive passports and stamp card as they arrive.
“Participating restaurants will offer sample-sized food to guests as they tour Quarter Market with their Ballston Quarter passports,” the event webpage notes.
More than 10 restaurants are expected to participate, according to the mall’s Facebook post, including the following.
- Rice Crook, an East Asian fusion restaurant, is offering chicken fried rice
- Ice Cream Jubilee, an Asian American-owned ice cream shop, is offering flavors such as Thai Iced Tea
- Go Poke, a Hawaiian restaurant, is offering tuna and salmon poke bites
- Punch Bowl Social, an American gastropub, is offering its Knockoff Slider and vegetarian mini quesadillas
- Jinya Ramen, a Japanese restaurant, is offering gyoza
- Hot Lolas, a Nashville hot chicken restaurant with a Chinese kick, is offering chicken tenders with Szechuan spice
- Bartaco, a Latin street food chain, is offering tuna poke and salsa verde and chips
Meanwhile, the artisan sandwich and cocktail restaurant Superette, Turu’s by Timber Pizza and the brewery Ballston Service Station are also set to join the event, but their tasting menus are yet to be announced.
Aside from food, the D.C.-based DJ CYD is scheduled to play current hit songs at the event.
This is the first time Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd) has organized an event of this nature, Zeliff said. The mall organized this event because of the new restaurants and vendors that opened in the past few months, such as Jinya Ramen, she said.
“We are excited to invite the Ballston Quarter community into Quarter Market and give them the opportunity to try restaurants they might not have experienced before,” Zeliff said.
Affordable housing units at the former Red Cross site in Buckingham will be available to lease starting this fall, the developer says.
The nonprofit developer Wesley Housing Development Corporation announced Thursday (July 21) it is set to lease all 97 units in the building, now called The Cadence. Units at the new apartment building at 4333 Arlington Blvd will range from studios to three bedrooms.
A leasing office is set up at 311 N. Glebe Road, where the property management team can meet with prospective residents, according to a press release. The apartment building is open to households with an income at or below 70% of the median family income, meaning it is open to families of four that earn up to about $80,000 a year.
The building is part of a complex that also includes 19 market-rate townhomes nearby.
Wesley Housing received $11 million in local and federal funding for The Cadence. The project has a total development budget of over $46 million, according to the developer’s website, and replaced “an underused parking lot, two single family houses and a vacant office building.”
There had been opposition to the apartment complex from community members in the past, who believed Buckingham has an outsized concentration of affordable housing. However, Wesley Housing believed the new units would be beneficial to their tenants.
“We can’t wait to serve the community with brand new quality, affordable apartments, and look forward to building up the lives of those will call these communities home in the coming months,” Lisa Davis, vice president of Wesley Property Management, said in the press release.
In addition to The Cadence, Wesley Housing plans to open leasing for three other Northern Virginia complexes later this year. A total of 367 housing units will be available to lease across the four complexes: The Cadence, The Waypoint at Fairlington in Alexandria, Senseny Place in Winchester, and The Arden in Fairfax County.
Wesley Housing’s property management wing expects to see a 20% increase in the number of housing units managed and to serve approximately 1,200 more people in the coming six months, according to the press release.