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South Arlington bear statues, now indoors, courtesy Arlington County

Curious Arlingtonians want to know: what happened to the bears at Thomas Jefferson Park?

In 2017 a set of bear figures were carved into a tree stump during that summer’s Arlington County Fair, a local told ARLnow on Twitter. But the following summer, they were gone, with only saw dust and the bottom of the stump left behind.

At the time, residents near the park were told by Arlington’s Dept. Parks and Recreation that the bears needed to be taken in for restoration work. But some have not forgotten their ursine decorations, which have not returned to the park since.

At the time, the county said the carving had a crack that could result in the wood rotting if exposed to rain or snow. The bears were brought inside for treatment. Now, the county says the bears have found a new permanent home.

“Mama bear and her cubs are happily residing in the Park Operations lobby at the Trades Center,” said Susan Kalish, spokeswoman for the parks department, referencing the county facility near Shirlington.

According to Kalish, the parks department determined it was more prudent for the bears to be indoors, repurposed as domesticated statues.

“As their wood was not treated to protect them from the elements, they are safer inside,” Kalish said.

It’s unclear whether that explanation will make the loss more bearable for local residents.

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The county fair, a longstanding event and summer staple, is returning to Arlington this August.

Last year, organizers canceled the fair and took some events online due to the pandemic.

Now set for Aug. 18-22, the annual event will feature goat yoga and a beer garden — both of which debuted at the 2019 fair — as well as carnival rides, vendors, exhibits, music, and fair food. It will return to the Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds, at 3501 2nd Street S.

“2021 is the 45th anniversary of the Arlington County Fair!” said Barbi Broadus, chair of the Arlington County Fair board of directors. “We are planning a full fair experience for our fairgoers.”

And fairgoers are ready to experience fairs in all their glory, according to Broadus.

“Our ride vendor, RC Cole of Cole Shows, has been providing rides for fairs on the East Coast and said he was surprised by the enormous turnout he is seeing,” she said.

The news comes as other local programming, from food events to college commencements, are returning to normal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now say that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear a mask even at crowded events. Virginia ended distancing requirements Friday, but businesses can still impose restrictions. Some exceptions still apply for wearing masks, such as health care facilities, public transit and indoors in Virginia schools.

The fair’s schedule is “coming soon,” according to its website.

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Arlington County has opened a temporary tax payment location.

As the Oct. 5 deadline approaches for vehicle personal property taxes and the second installment of real estate taxes, the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office on Monday opened a temporary payment location at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.) to accept payments in person.

The satellite location is in addition to the Treasurer’s Office payment windows on the second floor of county government headquarters (2100 Clarendon Blvd), which is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“In addition to having limited staff at our main office, we will be at Thomas Jefferson Community Center to safety take your payments in person, Sept. 21-25, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.,” the Treasurer’s Office said via email. “Please remember to wear a mask.”

Payments can also be made online via the Customer Assessment and Payment Portal (CAPP), mailed to Arlington County Treasurer at PO Box 1754, Merrifield, VA 22116-1754, or a check can be dropped off at one of two 24-hour drop boxes.

Any person financially impacted by COVID-19 may call the Treasurer’s Office at 703-228-4000 for assistance.

For anyone who moved or sold their vehicle, taxes may still be owed for the months the vehicle was still located in Arlington. Vehicle tax bills — which were mailed in August — should be reviewed for accuracy in this matter, the Treasurer’s Office said.

“If you are waiting for your account to be adjusted, please be sure to avoid a late payment penalty by paying your bill in full by October 5,” the office said. “Any overpayment will be refunded to you once your account has been adjusted.”

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(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Arlington is kicking off a renovation project for the upper fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Officials have begun the design phase for the “TJ Upper Field Turf Conversion,” which will transform the sports field — which is also the side of the annual Arlington County Fair — from existing natural grass to synthetic turf.

In addition, other items up for consideration in the project include “new spectator seating, signage, athletic equipment, site furnishings, [and] pathways,” as well as landscaping to remove invasive plants and to improve stormwater management.

The design phase of the project is set to wrap up during the first quarter of 2020, with construction projected to run from the third quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021.

Last year, the middle school’s lower field received new synthetic turf as part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program. The upcoming changes to the upper field were recommended in the Public Spaces Master Plan, and approved by the County Board in the FY 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

A public meeting to discuss the project is scheduled for next week on Wednesday, December 18 at 7 p.m. in the Thomas Jefferson Community & Fitness Center (3501 2nd Street S.).

Photo via Arlington County 

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(Updated 10:10 a.m.) The annual Arlington County Fair is back in action.

The fair opened yesterday (Wednesday) and will run through Sunday (Aug. 18). The fair fills a lot next to the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.).

The usual fair attractions like carousels and Ferris wheels have made a return, while carnival barkers are enticing visitors to try their games and kabobs are sizzling on the grill.

New attractions this year’s fair include a butterfly garden — where visitors can hand-feed native butterflies — goat yoga, and a beer garden.

A row of food vendors are also set up near the community center, featuring doughnuts from the local Good Company Doughnuts and Cafe.

There’s no parking at the fairgrounds, but a shuttle runs from the fair to the Arlington Career Center — where there is visitor parking — as well as Wakefield High School, the county’s I-66 parking garage, and the Virginia Square Metro station. Shuttles cost $2 round-trip.

The fair is free to enter, with tickets available to purchase for rides and carnival games.

Ashley Hopko contributed to this story

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The Arlington County Fair has a new head honcho: Matt Hussmann, the recently retired head of the Clarendon Alliance.

The fair’s Board of Directors announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it has tabbed Hussmann as the new fair manager, effective Jan. 13.

Hussmann spent seven years as executive director for the Clarendon Alliance before stepping down in September, advocating on behalf of Clarendon businesses and managing a variety of events in the neighborhood, like the annual Clarendon Day Festival and Mardi Gras Parade and Ball. He currently works as a principal for EventPro DC, an event production and equipment rental company.

In his new role as fair manager, Hussmann will work alongside the fair board to focus on subjects including “sponsorships, marketing, entertainment, competitive exhibits, volunteer recruitment and fair logistics,” according to a news release.

“Matt has a wealth of experience in building and strengthening events in Arlington County, and we’re delighted that he’ll be bringing his talents to the Arlington County Fair,” Arlington County Fair Board Chair Kyle Thornhill said in a statement.

The fair manager is an employee of the nonprofit that manages the annual event, working in tandem with county officials.

The fair found itself in a bit of hot water last year when a drawing on one vendor’s truck prompted accusations of racism. The fair manager position last grabbed headlines in 2011, when then-manager Denise Marshall Roller was accused of embezzling money from the fair, and she ultimately pleaded guilty to a slew of charges in 2012.

In general, the fair has seen healthy attendance numbers since that spot of trouble, according to Fair Board Vice Chair Barbi Broadus. Attendance statistics for the fair’s last 10 years are as follows, per Broadus:

2008: 54,580
2009: 46,632
2010: 51,723
2011: 47,000
2012: 53,763
2013: 58,799
2014: 71,664
2015: 74,884
2016: 59,520
2017: 72,802
2018: 84,666

This year’s fair will run from August 14-18 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center.

File photo

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When disaster strikes, roads are often one of the first necessities hit. Gridlock or damage to streets can make them impassible for cars.

And on Sept. 29, the county will host “Disaster Relief Trials” to simulate just such an emergency in Arlington. Participants will need to climb onto their bikes and travel across the county carrying food, water, medical supplies and messages to those in need. To do so, they will need to navigate without a GPS and traverse simulated dangerous terrain.

The challenge starts and ends at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, from which participants will ride out to various checkpoints and be forced to overcome an obstacle. This could be a physical barrier like a downed tree or something like high water at least 15 cm deep.

Additional challenges include delivery of a message, successfully using a fire extinguisher, and wound packing. Points are awarded based on weight of supplies transported and emergency preparedness challenges completed. The top three finalists in each category will be awarded prizes.

Registration costs for the event varies based on category.

  • Responder I (Individuals, traditional bicycles) – Single Adult on standard bike, including bike racks, panniers, body packs, etc. Registration costs $40.
  • Responder II (Individuals, cargo bicycle, and/or trailer) – Single Adult on cargo bike (front bucket or longtail), or standard bike with trailer. Registration costs $40.
  • Family Responders (1-2 Adults, 1-4 children under age 14, any style of bikes) – Up to 2 adults and between 1-4 children under the age of 14, any style of bikes. Registration costs $75.
  • Team Responders (2-3 Adults, any/all bike types) – Teams of 2-3 adults, any/all bike types. Registration costs $75.
  • Citizen (Individual) – Single Adult with no cargo or checkpoint requirement; complete as many Emergency Preparedness Challenges as you want; non-competitive. Registration costs $10.

With a focus on bicycling through disaster zones, GPS systems and electronic assist bicycles are not allowed (or batteries for e-bikes removed). Registration is available online.

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Live music, parades and racing piglets — it’s county fair season in Arlington.

Today (Aug. 15), the 42nd annual Arlington County Fair officially opens at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (125 S. Old Glebe Road).

Admission to the fair is free, though some outdoor activities require tickets that can be purchased on-site. There is no parking on the fairgrounds, but a shuttle runs to the fair from the Arlington Career Center, the I-66 parking garage, and from the Pentagon City and Virginia Square Metro stations.

The outdoor portion of the fair runs until 10 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 19). The indoor portion opens at 4 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 17).

The field outside of the community center includes pig races, pony rides, a various amusement park style attractions. Inside the community center are various international dance acts and shows, like Saturday evening’s comedy hypnosis show.

Outdoor entertainment consists of a daily lineup of musicians, from jazz and soul to country-bluegrass.

Thursday, August 16:

5 p.m.: Nardo Lilly (Acoustic Singer/Songwriter)
6:15 p.m.: Round About (Pop/Rock)
7:30 p.m.: Honey Butter Biscuit (Alternative Rock)

Friday, August 17:

5 p.m.: 40 Miles Homes (Bluegrass/Indie)
6:15 p.m.: Raven Tree (Rock)
7:30 p.m.: Danny and Jimmy (Latin Urban Duo)
8:45 p.m.: The Groove Factor (R&B/Neo-Soul)

Saturday, August 18:

Noon: Sunshine Gang (50s-80s)
1:15 p.m.: Gabrielle Zwi (Singer/Songwriter)
2:30 p.m.: Plastic Sky (Indie Acoustic)
3:45 p.m.: The Sprinting Turtles (80s-2000s Rock)
5 p.m.: Soul Stew (Motown Classics)
6:15 p.m.: Crush Funk Brass (Modern Brass Funk/Pop)
7:30 p.m.: N2N Band (R&B)
8:45 p.m.: The Restless (Pop/Rock)

Sunday, August 19:

11:45 a.m.: Calista Garcia (Singer/Songwriter)
1 p.m.: Silver City (Bluegrass/Country)
2:15 p.m.: Look Out Lincoln (1990-2000s Rock)
3:30 p.m.: Atoms Apart (Pop/Electronic)
4:45 p.m.: DEMZ (60s-80s Classic Rock)
6 p.m.: CBRadio (Rock/Pop/Country)
7:15 p.m.: First Road North (Rock/Jazz)

Activities at the fair are family friendly, and a kids’ court set up outside the community center has all-day face painting, moon bounces, and a monster mural on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are also magic and puppet shows throughout the weekend.

The fair features a variety of competitive exhibits focused around a theme of “Small County, Big Fun”. There are seven categories of competition:

  • Honey, Beeswax and Food Preservation
  • Decorated Food Products and Baked Goods
  • Art Needlework
  • Crafts and Fine Arts
  • Photography
  • Herbs, Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables
  • Flowers, Arrangements and Potted Plants

Competition guidelines and applications to volunteer or judge are available at the county fair website.

Photo via Arlington County Fair

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The Arlington County Fair will kick off on Wednesday, August 16 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road).

For the 41st year, the county will host a variety of events for the community, including live outdoor music, a parade, fairground rides and game, food, floral and craft competitions, pig races and more.

This year’s exhibit theme is “Let’s Play,” which organizers said celebrates the “child-like joy and fun that the Arlington County Fair brings out in all of us.”

The fair’s outdoor programming begins August 16, with indoor programming beginning on Friday, August 18. The event ends August 20, with outdoor activities concluding at 10 p.m. that day. More details about the indoor offerings will be available closer to the time.

The fair’s full opening hours are as follows:

The Kids’ Court, which has various activities including a moon bounce and face painting, will be open during the following hours:

  • Friday 2-6 p.m.
  • Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Competitive exhibits for participants to show off their abilities and compete for prizes include:

  • Honey, Beeswax and Food Preservation
  • Decorated Food Products and Baked Goods
  • Art Needlework
  • Crafts and Fine Arts
  • Photography
  • Herbs, Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables
  • Flowers, Arrangements and Potted Plants

Local organizations and business can sign up to participate in the fair’s parade, which is scheduled to start at the Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) on August 19 at 10 a.m. It will travel from the Career Center and end at the fairgrounds.

There is no on-site parking at the fair, and street parking is limited to residents with permits. There are several other transportation options, including shuttle buses from the Ballston and Pentagon City Metro stations, the Career Center and the I-66 parking garage at N. Quincy Street and 15th Street N.

The fair’s live outdoor music schedule is below, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

New Elementary School Approved — After a years-long process that included neighborhood opposition and lots of community discussion, the Arlington County Board has approved a use permit and ground lease for a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson middle school and community center site. [Arlington County]

Rosslyn Farmers Market Approved — Also at its Saturday meeting, the County Board gave the go-ahead to a new FreshFarm Markets-operated farmers market that will be held at the new Central Place public plaza in Rosslyn. The market will be open on Wednesday evenings from April to November. [Arlington County]

Bebe Closing at Pentagon City Mall — The Bebe store at the Pentagon City mall will close by the end of May. It’s part of a larger restructuring for the struggling young women’s clothing retailer. [Patch]

County Board to Honor Trees — “Arlington has about 755,400 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will honor 10 of these trees as Notable Trees at the April 25 County Board Meeting.” [Arlington County]

Blue Virginia’s School Board Endorsement — Local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Monique O’Grady in the race for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board. The endorsement cites incumbent James Lander’s recent controversial remarks about a murder victim as a reason for not endorsing him. [Blue Virginia]

Flickr pool photo by Ameschen

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Image via Twitter/Arlington County Fair

The 40th Arlington County Fair is coming to town with pig races, rides, concerts and chicken teriyaki on a stick in roughly two weeks.

The fair, billed as “Groovy Since 1977,” is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 17, to Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.)

Locals can grab their chicken teriyaki sticks from Yummy Food Corner and Grill, milkshakes from Royal Creamery and Coffee or food from more than a dozen other vendors as they check out the indoor and outdoor attractions.

The entertainment includes a parade, the Hollywood Hogs All-Star Racing Team, pony rides and live music. The fair’s outdoor stage will host DJ Funkhouse (Thursday, Aug. 18), rock group Sub-Radio Standard (Friday, Aug. 19), country singer Wesley Spangler (Saturday, Aug. 20) and R&B group The 5-1-2 Experience (Sunday, Aug. 21), among others.

The Zipper, Heart Flip and more spinning and flipping rides are are slated to return to the midway, too.

The fair will have cooking, art and vegetable-growing contests — and other competitions as well.

In celebration of the groovy theme, fairgoers can hunt for a disco ball hidden in the indoor vendor area each day and win free ride tickets if they’re the first to find it.

The fair also will have T-shirts and ride tickets for the best photograph of the festivities each day.

The grounds are open from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Public parking isn’t available at the fair, but shuttle buses will run from the Arlington Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) and I-66 parking garage (N. Quincy and 15th Street N.), as well as the Ballston and Pentagon City Metro stations.

Image via Twitter/Arlington County Fair

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