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Ferris wheel at the county fair (staff photo)

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.

The poster for axe throwing and the escape room at the fair (via Arlington County Fair)

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.

The poster for the sensory hour at the fair (via Arlington County Fair)

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.

The poster for the beer garden at the fair (via Arlington County Fair)

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.

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Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (staff photo by Pia Kramer)

After more than 80 years, Arlington Cinema Drafthouse is the only remaining theater in Arlington County from the 1930s and 1940s cinema boom period.

The theater, which opened on Aug. 15, 1940, is continuing that legacy this summer and fall as it continues to host live shows by comedians with national profiles.

Below are some highlights of the upcoming schedule.

1. Aaron Weber (Aug. 12-13)

Aaron Weber is a stand-up comedian based in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a regular performer at the Grand Ole Opry. Weber headlines comedy clubs across the country and has been named a New Face 2021 at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. 

2. Joe Hill & Friends (Aug. 18)

Joe Hill, a Bronx native, is a stand-up comedian, producer, and writer currently generating buzz on the national comedy scene. Hill has played at various comedy clubs nationally as well as headlined his national comedy tour, “This is Joe Hill.” 

3. Punkie Johnson (Aug. 19-20)

Punkie Johnson is a comedian and writer from New Orleans who joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 2020. Johnson was a New Face at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in 2019 and is currently a series regular on the upcoming season of “Love Life” (HBO Max). 

4. Shuler King (Aug. 25-27)

Shuler King is a comedian originally from Sumter, South Carolina. King knew at an early age he was destined to be an entertainer, as he was the kid known for cracking jokes. King says, “comedy isn’t about being happy all the time. Comedy is just as much about pain that people endure. When you hear 20,000 people in an arena laugh at a joke it’s because they all can relate to experiencing that same pain.” 

5. Paris Sashay (Sept. 2-3) and Paris Sashay and Friends (Sept. 4)

Paris Sashay is a comedian, actor, writer, and producer currently residing in New York. Sashay has highlighted performances at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montréal, along with appearances on Comedy Central, “Pause” on HBO Max, and BET 50 Central. She has performed at The Howard Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Caroline’s on Broadway, Hollywood Improv, The Comedy Store, and is a regular at The Comedy Cellar. 

6. Jon “Polar Bear” Gonzalez: Whispanic Causing Panic Tour (Sept. 8)

Jon “Polar Bear” Gonzalez is a stand-up comedian, podcaster, and entertainer living in the heart of Texas. Polar Bear found success through the release of multiple comedy skits which went viral on Facebook and TikTok and have toured all over the country. 

7. Chad Daniels (Sept.  16-17)

Chad Daniels is one of the most listened to comedians of all time, with close to a billion streams of his six albums to date. Originally from, and still residing in, Minnesota, Daniels has been touring the country for over 20 years. He has made six late-night appearances to date, and is one of only 13 comedians to be featured on ‘The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” 

8. Pour Minds (Sept. 18)

Drea and Lex, Houstonians residing in Atlanta, navigate their way through life, friendships, and dating together. The two discuss all the hot topics while enjoying their favorite glass of wine — it’s just like a good therapy session with friends. 

9. David Koechner (Sept. 22-24) and Office Trivia w/ Real Todd Packer (Sept. 24)

David Koechner is an actor, writer, and producer, known for his roles as Todd Packer on “The Office” and Champ Kind on “Anchorman” and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Koechner is an alumnus of Chicago’s Second City Theater, receiving his first break as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live.” In addition to live stand-up, Koechner will host an “Office” trivia contest during which teams will compete for mediocre prizes while hearing behind-the-scenes stories from the “Pack-man” himself.

10. More shows coming this fall

Ryan Hamilton, Brandon Broady, Paul Farahvar, Jimmy Dore, Adam Ferrara, Steve Wrigley, Devin Siebold, Desi Alexander, Brian Posehn, Dulce Sloan, Omar Terrell, Rachel Feinstein

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Like the swallows of Capistrano, the Hello Kitty truck keeps returning to a warm and welcoming place: Pentagon City.

As it did last summer, the truck will be setting up shop along Pentagon Row this weekend, offering its baked goods and pink-hued merchandise to the masses. Only credit and debit cards will be accepted during the event, which is set to take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, near the DSW store.

Hello Kitty, for the uninitiated, is an internationally beloved Japanese character first created in the mid-1970s and still going strong as a multi-billion-dollar media franchise.

The truck will only be in the area for one day. After the Arlington stop on the truck’s East Coast tour, it’s off to New Jersey.

More from a press release, below.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is continuing its 2022 tour across the U.S. with its all-pink cafe on wheels carrying exclusive treats and collectibles celebrating all things Hello Kitty.

Fans of Hello Kitty can look forward to edible goodies and limited-edition merch, including:

  • NEW Hello Kitty Cafe Glass Mug with Sprinkle Handle
  • NEW Hello Kitty Cafe Coin Bank
  • NEW Hello Kitty Cafe Lunchbox
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Lavender T-Shirt
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Canvas Tote
  • Stainless Hello Kitty Cafe Rainbow Thermos (18oz and 32oz)
  • Hand-Decorated Cookie Sets
  • Madeleine Cookie Sets

Other best-selling items include: Hello Kitty Cafe Plush Toys and giant Hello Kitty Cafe chef cookies.

*Hello Kitty Cafe Truck accepts only credit/debit card payments -no cash.

Following DC, the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will continue its 2022 East Coast tour with a stop in Cherry Hill, NJ on 8/20.

Since the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck made its debut in October 2014 as part of Sanrio’s first food-related venture, the cafe on wheels has delighted thousands of fans from all over the U.S., drawing crowds of up to hundreds of Hello Kitty lovers at each stop. To date, two Hello Kitty Cafe trucks have traveled to more than 100 cities across both coasts – from Los Angeles, Seattle and Houston – to Chicago, New York and Miami.

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Ruthie’s All-Day (courtesy photo)

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.

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A blood donor in Fairfax County (Photo by Obi – @pixel6propix on Unsplash)

Inova is setting up a day-long community blood drive in Courthouse on Monday

The healthcare company’s blood donation arm is again partnering with Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar for the event. Blood donors will receive $5 off any menu item at the restaurant for their contribution.

The blood drive is taking place from 1:30-5:30 p.m. on Aug. 8. The Inova Blood Services Bloodmobile will be parked in front of the restaurant at 2350 Clarendon Blvd, just up the street from the Courthouse Metro station.

Those wanting to donate can schedule the appointment online or by calling 1-866-BLOODSAVES (1-866-256-6372) and using the Sponsor Code #8629. Donors are also encouraged to visit the Inova Blood Donor services website for information about preparing to donate.

Photo ID and a face-covering are required. Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar has been open since August 2010. The pizzeria has an ongoing relationship with Inova to help collect much-needed blood supplies in Northern Virginia.

Photo by Obi – @pixel6propix on Unsplash

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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.

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The plaza at Ballston Quarter where the food festival is set to be held (courtesy of Chris Chern)

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.

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Arlington residents can look forward to music shows, amusement rides and bouncy castles as the Arlington County Fair is set to return next month.

The annual county fair is scheduled to be held between Wednesday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, at 3501 2nd Street S. It is free to attend and open to the whole family.

Here is the fair schedule for the outdoor area:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 17: 5-10 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 18: 5-10 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 19: 2-11 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 20: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 21: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Although canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the fair has been held for more than 40 years and attracted over 84,000 people from Northern Virginia and the D.C. Metropolitan area to attend in past years, according to the fair’s website.

The Night Market is a new event this year. It is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 18, between 5-10 p.m. It is only open to vendors selling personally made handicrafts and art pieces. Apart from crafts, other business and nonprofit organizations are expected to run indoor booths as well.

The fair is also planning to host local music groups and solo artists for weekend performances on the turf field. The performance schedule has not been released.

For children and families, the fair is set to hold a Kids Court with different games, including a pie eating contest. Additionally, there will be a variety of amusement rides will be provided by the Cole Shows Amusement Company. Each ride is expected to take three to six tickets, with each ticket selling for $1.25.

Other activities include competitive exhibits scheduled on Wednesday, Aug. 17, and Thursday, Aug. 18, where participants can showcase the products they made, in categories such as baked goods, needlework, handicrafts, and photography, according to the Competitive Exhibits Guide. The theme for this year’s exhibit is “What a Ride!” and an award ceremony for the winners is set on Saturday, Aug. 20.

This year’s fair is also expected to feature a beer garden organized with New District Brewery. That’s in addition to the usual fair fare, such as funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos, pizzas and other items.

The executive board for the fair previously discussed changing the venue to Long Bridge Park but ultimately decided against it after public feedback favored staying put the the TJ Community Center, which is centrally located in Arlington but a distance away from transit and the county’s denser population centers.

The upper field at the community center was closed for renovations for the first half of this year and reopened in June after being fitted with a synthetic turf, according to a county website.

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A poster for the ¡Viva Cultura! Festival (courtesy of Centro de Apoyo Familiar)

A festival to showcase Latin American music, folk dance, art and food is coming to Rosslyn next month.

The ¡Viva Cultura! Festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 13, at Gateway Park (1300 Langston Blvd), which is a five-minute walk from the Rosslyn Metro station. The event is set to begin at 10 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Centro de Apoyo Familiar is organizing the family-friendly event and plans to provide live music, dance performances, exhibitions and food, according to the festival’s website. Folk dance groups representing countries like Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Puerto Rico are expected to perform their traditional dances in traditional costumes as well.

As for the exhibition, Centro de Apoyo Familiar plans to have artisans from the Caribbean as well as Central and South America offering handcrafted items. Exhibitors include a Colombian handmade jewelry store and organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens. The deadline for becoming an exhibitor is Sunday, July 31, according to the online registration form.

An art exhibition for Latino artists in Arlington is also set. However, registration for it has yet to open, according to the event’s website.

The event will feature a number of activities catered to kids, including face painting, clowns, musical chairs and other games, according to the website. Food trucks selling cuisines from different countries are also expected. Registration for food vendors is still open.

CAF is a nonprofit working in D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia to provide housing counseling to low-income Latino and immigrant families, according to its website.

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A celebration of anime, gaming, comic, sci-fi and popular culture for people of all background is back at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City starting today (Friday).

The convention, BlerDCon, is being held at 2799 Richmond Highway and is set to run through Sunday. Its first event kicked off at 10 a.m. this morning.

All participants need to be vaccinated and masked while indoors, according to the convention’s website.

The theme for the convention this year is “Homecomin’.” BlerDCon expects that 3,000-4,000 participants — many in costume — will be joining, according to its website.

A weekend pass for the convention costs $65 and is still open for purchase. Registration for Friday and Saturday is open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., while the hours will end at 5 p.m. on the last day of the convention.

Apart from celebrating Blerd — Black nerd — culture, the convention this year also celebrates its “connection with LGBTQ, the disabled, POCs and the international community,” according to its website.

The inclusive convention, which was also held in Crystal City last year, has already attracted some unintentional attention given current fears about gun violence and the propensity for some cosplaying attendees to also carry fake weapons.

Police were called to the McDonald’s along Route 1 around 12:45 p.m. today for a report, relayed via Alexandria’s 911 dispatch center, about a man seen crossing the road near the restaurant with a large gun, according to scanner traffic.

An Arlington officer, recognizing that the convention was taking place nearby, quickly radioed that the sighting might be related to BlerDCon. There were no reports of anyone being stopped by police, but there was some confusion on the ACPD dispatch channel about what exactly BlerDCon was.

“Black nerds,” an officer responded. “It’s like Comic-Con.”

During the weekend convention, different events are set to be held, including RPG games, comedy shows, cosplay contests and different panels. The first three panels of the convention are on topics such as representation in comics and a Kpop dance challenge, according to a tweet.

Comedian Orlando Jones is set to the convention’s celebrity guest.

BlerDCon is not the only subculture convention that regularly comes to Crystal City. Earlier this year the “furry” convention Fur the More was again held at the Hyatt Regency.

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Fourth of July fireworks from the Iwo Jima memorial in 2021 (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

For the first time in a couple of years, Arlington is back to fully celebrating America’s Independence Day.

In both 2020 and 2021, the pandemic led to the canceling of a number of official July 4 events as well as many of the local holiday festivities.

But, for the most part, Independence Day events, parades, and firework shows are back this year in Arlington.

The fireworks on the National Mall are set to start shooting off at 9:09 p.m. on Monday, July 4 and there are plenty of local spots to watch them without heading to the District.

  • Gateway Park and the Key Bridge in Rosslyn are both popular viewing spots for viewing and will be open to the public. There’s no seating on the bridge, however.
  • Gravelly Point, just north of National Airport on the George Washington Parkway, is a National Park Service site and will also be open to the public. No “hard perimeter” or “physical security checkpoints” will be in place, a NPS spokesperson tells ARLnow, though certain areas may be roped off to help with crowd control.
  • Long Bridge Park in Crystal City will be open to the public for firework viewing. Arlington County police will be on hand “conducting road closures and providing safety and security” on-site, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow.
  • Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) near Rosslyn is one of the most popular spots to watch fireworks outside of the National Mall. No “hard perimeter” or security checkpoints will be in place, though it might get crowded and certain areas could be roped off.
  • Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River near Roosevelt Island provides “uninterrupted views” of the District’s skyline. Though, the best views are on the trial which is only accessible for bikes and pedestrians.
  • Prospect Hill Park near Pentagon City is a small county park from which one can view the fireworks, though it is only a half-acre and mostly used by nearby residents.

The Air Force Memorial, another popular viewing spot, will be closed this year due to “safety and security concerns” related to the ongoing Arlington National Cemetery expansion project.

The View of DC observation deck on top of the CEB Tower at 1201 Wilson Blvd also will not be open this year for fireworks viewing, closing at 5 p.m. on July 4, an employee confirmed to ARLnow. In years past, residents were able to enter their names into a lottery to watch the show 31 floors up, but that isn’t the case this year.

The Washington Golf and Country Club off of N. Glebe Road is again set to have its own fireworks show, though it’s only open to members and their guests, we’re told.

For those looking to head downtown for the fireworks, Metrorail will be operating until midnight, with trains every 20 minutes on the Blue and Orange lines and every 15 minutes on the Yellow Line. Trains will arrive every 7 minutes at the downtown stations serviced by several lines.

Several Arlington communities and neighborhoods are back to holding parades and festive events this year as well:

With all of this going on, there will also be road closures including Arlington Memorial Bridge and Arlington Memorial Circle starting at 6 a.m. on July 4.

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