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Scenes from the 2022 Arlington County Fair (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

When the Arlington County Fair kicks off next week, attendees can expect to see more free activities.

After receiving financial support from Arlington County and several businesses, including a $15,000 donation from Amazon, the Arlington County Fair Board decided to increase the number of free indoor and outdoor activities, Matt Richard, the chair of the fair board, told ARLnow.

The fair also plans to donate leftover proceeds from ticket sales to local nonprofits. He said the two changes are reflected in the fair’s new theme: “A Fair for All.”

“We’d like to think of the fair as a place where everyone can gather, no matter their background or their socio-economic background,” Richard said. “We want people to feel like this is an opportunity for anyone to come here and be part of this event… This is fair for everyone, and we’re going to do everything in our power to continue to make it fair for everyone for the years to come.”

The fair at Thomas Jefferson Community Center will run from Wednesday, Aug. 16 to Sunday, Aug. 20.

Some of the new free outdoor activities include the Go Bananas Performance & Family Dance Party, scavenger hunts, mini golf and live music. Free activities indoors include a display of portraits from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Bingo, a popup park with yard games and an interactive robotics demonstration.

Richard noted the board decided to channel any surplus funds into a new community endowment fund, set to be announced during the opening ceremony at 5 p.m. next Wednesday.

“We’re also going to give some of that money back to the Arlington community by way of identifying some foundations in the community or nonprofit organizations in the community that can benefit…they’re not going to be large dollar amount donations. We don’t have a lot of money. But basically ways to show that the community gives a fair and fair gets back to the community,” Richard said.

Entry to the fair is free but attendees can pay for attractions, such as rides, food and pie-eating contests. Ride tickets, $1.25 each, can be purchased on-site or online.

New District Brewing will also serve its last beers at the fair after officially closing its taproom in May.

Due to ongoing construction at the Arlington Career Center, the fair’s shuttle stop has been relocated this year. Instead, attendees can park at the county government headquarters garage at 2100 Clarendon Blvd and take the shuttle service from there.

The shuttle operates continuously, starting 30 minutes before the fairgrounds open until an hour after closing.

Alternate parking can be found at the Faith Lutheran Church at 3313 Arlington Blvd — a nearby pedestrian bridge leads directly to the fairgrounds. Additionally, parking that is accessible for people with disabilities is available at the front left lot of the Thomas Jefferson Community Center.

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Calling all Arlington’s feline aficionados, kitty collectors, and sweet treat seekers.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will be making a special stop in Arlington this Saturday offering a bounty of limited edition goodies and “claw-some” merchandise.

From 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the courtyard of Pentagon Row, located near DSW, will transform into a haven of “meow-gical” delights. Fans of the beloved Japanese character can anticipate a curated selection of baked goods and limited-edition collectibles, such as a brand new Hello Kitty Cafe hoodie, cafe cup plush, lunchbox, t-shirt and canvas tote.

Only credit and debit cards will be accepted.

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 2023 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 Hoodie
  • NEW Hello Kitty Cafe Cup Plush
  • NEW Hello Kitty Cafe T-Shirt
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Glass Mug with Sprinkle Handle
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Lunchbox
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Canvas Tote
  • Stainless Hello Kitty Cafe Rainbow Thermos (18oz and 32oz)
  • Hand-Decorated Cookie Sets

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

Following DC the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will continue its 2023 East Coast tour with a stop in Cherry Hill, NJ on 8/19.

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.

For updates on Hello Kitty Cafe Truck’s upcoming appearances, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

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Scenes from the Arlington County Fair in 2022 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

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.

Scenes from the Arlington County Fair in 2022 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

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.


Architecture, art and the sun are all coming together Tuesday morning, August 1, for Dark Star Park Day.

Dark Star Park in Rosslyn features several concrete spheres, installed in 1984, whose shadows will perfectly align with their markings on the ground tomorrow morning only.

“Each year at 9:32 a.m., actual shadows cast by the poles and spheres align with permanent forms in the shape of the shadows on the ground beneath them,” the Arlington County website says. “The date marks the day that William Henry Ross purchased the land that later became Rosslyn.”

Located at 1655 Fort Myer Drive, the public art installation was restored in 2002. Artist Nancy Holt carefully designed the installation so that the alignment would happen at the same time every year.

“Holt worked with an astrophysicist to make the shadow alignment happen. The time it takes place was chosen simply because Holt liked the light at that hour,” the park’s webpage said.

Dark Star Park, which was formerly a gas station, became Arlington’s first public art installation.

“Encompassing landscape architecture, sculpture, and astronomy, Dark Star Park by Nancy Holt (1938-2014) is among the first major examples of integrated public art,” the county website says.

An event, held each year, marks the annual shadow alignment.

Those planning to attend tomorrow’s free event should arrive at the park around 9:15 a.m. to secure a good viewing spot, according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. There is limited parking available near the park.

For those who can’t attend, the Rosslyn BID Facebook page will be live-streaming the event beginning around 9:15 a.m.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Dark Star Park Day — described by Arlington Cultural Affairs as “a deeply moving experience in-person.” The weather forecast calls for sunny skies, perfect for shadow viewing.


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.

Toys ‘R’ Us tour (courtesy photo)

Toys ‘R’ Us and its long-necked mascot are on an RV tour of the East Coast, with an upcoming stop in Arlington.

The long-time children’s retailer declared bankruptcy in 2017 and, a year later, closed all of its U.S. stores. In recent years, however, it has been making a comeback, with stores located within Macy’s locations — including the Macy’s in Pentagon City.

The comeback is continuing with a multi-state tour featuring Geoffrey the Giraffe. Geoffrey’s RV is scheduled to arrive in Arlington this coming Monday for a noon event in Pentagon City, featuring giveaways and activities.

“Geoffrey’s Tour Across America is coming to Fashion Centre at Pentagon City on Monday, July 24th at 12pm ET where Geoffrey the Giraffe will host a play celebration for families at the Toys ‘R’ Us shop at Macy’s Pentagon City store,” said a description of the event. “The festivities will kick-off outside Macy’s store entrance at the new Geoffrey Mobile, a 38-foot custom RV which is on a multi-city tour, making stops at select Toys ‘R’ Us at Macy’s stores from NYC to Florida.”

“The first 50 kids to arrive at the Geoffrey Mobile will receive a free Geoffrey plush,” the event description said. “All attendees will receive a paper crown, a toy tambourine and will join Geoffrey the Giraffe in his ‘Parade of Play’ march from the Geoffrey Mobile into the Toys ‘R’ Us inside of Macy’s. The fun will continue in-store from 12pm – 2pm with play stations and family friendly activities including Pokémon Trade & Play activity packs, Discovery Excavation Kits, Block building, Bluey printable for coloring, a Meet & Greet with Geoffrey and more!”


Soccer fans can plan to watch and celebrate the Women’s World Cup at several bars in Arlington.

The World Cup kicked off today (Thursday) in Australia and New Zealand and the tournament will run until the final game airs on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 6 a.m.

The festivities start tomorrow evening at 9 p.m., with Quincy Hall hosting a watch party at 4001 Fairfax Drive for the first game for the U.S. women’s team, against Vietnam.

The bar will be serving an IPA from a women-owned, Maryland-based brewing company and host a “steal-the-pint night,” where customers who purchase a pint of beer can take the glass it comes in home with them.

Next Wednesday, the U.S. women’s team will play their second game, against the Netherlands, at 9 p.m. The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse at 2903 Columbia Pike will open its doors at 8 p.m. for fans to watch the game on the big screen.

The watch party is free but the theater says attendees should reserve a spot in advance to ensure the event is well-staffed.

Over in Clarendon, O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub says it will be showing the U.S. team’s currently scheduled games along with Ireland’s first game.

Many local bars not listed here will likely be showing the games, even if not hosting special events. According to Yelp reviewers, McNamara’s Pub & Restaurant and Crystal City Sports Pub in Crystal City, as well as The Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant on Columbia Pike, are also stalwart watering holes for soccer viewing.

Know of other local watch parties? Let us know in the comments.

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BlerDCon, an annual convention with cosplay, gaming, anime and sci-fi events, is returning to Arlington this weekend.

The summer tradition for nerds, and particularly the event’s namesake Black nerds, or “blerds,” kicks off in Crystal City today (Friday). It will run from noon today until 3 p.m. on Sunday. Expect to see costumed crowds around the neighborhood throughout the weekend.

Tickets can be purchased online for the event, held at the Hyatt Regency at 2799 Richmond Hwy.

Actress Rachel True, who has appeared in “Beverly Hills 90210” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” will return to BlerDCon, after her last appearance at the convention in 2019. Voice actor and actress Cree Summer, who has spent a majority of her career working in animation, will also appear at this year’s BlerDCon, along with several other notable guests and cosplayers.

The event this year will honor art, literature, cosplay and media genres with its “Fae’d to Black” theme, the event’s website says.

The schedule includes everything from 2000s Disney Channel trivia to mental health discussions, highlighting common struggles shared among people of color.

While open to all, the convention aims to highlight sci-fi and fantasy fans in the LGBTQ and disability communities, as well as women, people of color and immigrants.

Last year’s convention drew a local headline after police were called for a man with a weapon, which turned out to be a cosplayer with a prop. Organizers have published policies regarding faux weaponry and cosplay that attendees are expected to follow for safety purposes.

Ticket reservations for a full weekend badge cost $70. There is also an option to purchase a badge valid for Saturday and Sunday for $55 as well as a badge available for Sunday only listed at $30. Children ages 10 and under can attend the event for free, accompanied by an adult.

Badges to get selfies, autographs, voice and video recordings from featured guests are available to purchase as well. Ticket reservations range from $10, for selfies or autographs, to $200 for a VIP ticket that includes giveaways, early access to BlerDCon 2024 events, free show entries and front row seats at qualifying events throughout the weekend.


(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) A spinning pop-up installation that can be sat in or laid or played on is set to debut in Ballston Quarter today.

Five brightly colored, life-size, woven figures named “Los Trompos,” or “the spinning tops,” will be available to play on now through Sunday, July 30, in The Outdoor Mews in front of the mall at 4238 Wilson Blvd.

The installation is named for a Mexican spinning top, or trompo, connected to a string. When released, the top is launched onto a flat surface, where it will spin. Like the top, the woven figures in the “Los Trompos Experience” spin — to the delight of children and adults, per a video of them in use on the Facebook page for Ballston Quarter.

“Whether you’re here for the shopping, dining, or entertainment, we strive to be a place where the Arlington community wants to spend their time,” Ballston Quarter’s General Manager TaVida Rice said. “For us that means finding new and exciting ways to engage with our shoppers by offering new interactive experiences like Los Trompos.”

While the tops most likely will not be re-installed after July, Rice told ARLnow that Ballston Quarter is always working to introduce new concepts and experiences to the neighborhood.

“In today’s environment, you have to continuously evolve and meet the changing needs of today’s consumer to remain a hub in the community,” Rice said. “This means not just offering a mix of great tenants, but also offering unique, interactive experiences that the community can take part in. This pop-up is an added element that we are able to offer shoppers.”

This installation was created by a Mexico-based duo, Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena. The two designers have showcased their creative talents throughout North, Central and South America.

“We are inspired by ordinary objects that surround us. We are influenced by our context and our everyday activities which allow us to visit and share different cultures and different individuals,” Esrawe and Cadena said on their website.

There is an option to get a ticket to the installation, however, admission is free and open to the public daily.


(Updated at noon) An anonymous Russian buyer has taken the website for Arlington’s annual 9/11 Memorial 5K hostage, undermining registration for this year’s race.

When the domain name lapsed, this buyer took over the page, translated it into Russian and demanded a large sum of money from the race committee to return it, Race Director Joshua Milfeit told ARLnow.

Instead of paying, the committee decided to abandon the old “.com” web domain and buy a new “.us” domain of the same name, said Milfeit, who is also a captain with the Arlington County Fire Department.

The 5K is hosted yearly by the Arlington County police and fire departments, sheriff’s office and the Emergency Communications Center. So far, some 200 runners are registered, compared to around 1,000 sign-ups typically seen by the end of June, Milfeit said.

“We’re all fire and police, none of us are professionals at this type of thing. Now our registration is super low for this year because people can’t find us on our new website,” Milfeit said.

The original Arlington 9/11 Memorial 5K website was taken over and translated into Russian

In light of this year’s confusion, the early-bird registration deadline has been extended through the month of July. Those who register before then will pay $40 per person for a spot in the race, plus a race shirt, a bib and a finisher’s medal, Milfeit said.

There is an option when registering to sign up as an individual or in a team, with all children under the age of 12 getting a $10 discount applied at checkout.

All proceeds made from registration sign ups will be donated to the Bouldercrest Retreat, a mental health facility for military and first responders.

“We cut them a $50,000 check last year,” Milfeit said.

Jose Quiroz organized the race until becoming Acting Sheriff, after former Sheriff Beth Arthur announced her early retirement. Milfeit volunteered to take on the position of race director when Quiroz had to focus on his campaign to be the next permanent Sheriff. He prevailed in last week’s Democratic primary.

Milfeit says the 5K is an important tradition for him and his colleagues.

“Fire service is all about tradition and this is one of the true traditions Arlington police, fire and 911 communication center members can all do together,” Milfeit said.

The race will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the DoubleTree Hotel (300 Army Navy Drive) in Pentagon City. The course loops around the Pentagon and runners cross the finish line near where they started.

Donated post-race snacks and water will be available at the finish line. A post-race party will feature a DJ, a beer truck pouring free drinks and food trucks with food for sale.

For those who can’t attend the race, a donation page has been set up to help the event reach its $25,000 goal. There is also an option to register as a virtual runner, a feature that came about after the 2020 race was made completely virtual due to Covid-19.

In the last two decades, the 9/11 Memorial 5K has donated close to $1 million to 9/11-related charities, including the Pentagon Memorial Fund, Project Enduring Pride and the National Police Suicide Foundation.


Free, family-friendly events are happening this summer at the newly renovated Metropolitan Park in Pentagon City.

Now through August and September, there will be jazz performances, outdoor movie screenings and fitness classes at the base of Amazon’s new second headquarters, sponsored by the National Landing Business Improvement District and other partners, including Amazon.

Every Thursday through mid-August, people can enjoy live jazz at the park, located near the corner of S. Elm Street and 13th Street S. The next performance tomorrow (Thursday), will be by a jazz quartet led by New York City-based saxophonist Langston Hughes II. A free ticket is required to attend and attendees can start setting up at 4 p.m.

After a hiatus next week due to the Independence Day holiday, the weekly series will pick back up on July 13 with a D.C.-based quartet led by percussionist Julian Berkowitz, and continue through Aug. 10. The entire lineup for the series, co-sponsored by DC Jazz Festival, is online.

This Friday, meanwhile, the BID will be screening “Super Mario Bros” at 7 p.m. at the park as part of its weekly Movies @ Met series. Tickets are available online and more movie dates will be announced soon, per an event page.

There will be food trucks and the BID will be passing out complimentary blankets, the event page says, noting that attendees can bring lawn chairs and leashed pets.

Another Metropolitan Park event promises a workout before the start of work. The Fit @ Met series takes place Wednesday mornings from 8-9 a.m. at the park, through Sept. 27. The classes are instructor led and free with online registration.

Upcoming classes include:

  • July 5: Boxing from BASH Boxing
  • July 12: Karin from Pure Barre Pentagon City
  • July 19: Yoga from CorePower
  • July 26: HIIT from Orangetheory Fitness Pentagon City

Separately, for those looking to sweat after work, there will be free fitness classes on Mondays from 6-7 p.m. at a temporary park nearby (101 12th Street S.) dubbed “Gateway Green.” No experience is necessary to participate but attendees will need a free ticket.

“Gateway to Fitness” classes, led by instructors from gyms in the area, are running now through Sept. 25. The days and participating gyms are as follows. Equipment is not required — besides a yoga mat — when CorePower Yoga classes are taught.

The newly renovated Met Park, which Amazon paid for, is part of the tech company’s new HQ2, which was unveiled earlier this month after years of planning and construction.

The area is also home to numerous restaurants, cafes, and other storefronts, many of them newly opened on the ground floor of HQ2.


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