An event for foodies — specifically barbeque fanatics — is coming this week to Fairfax County.
The first-ever Halal Ribfest is coming to Springfield Town Center (6500 Franconia-Springfield Parkway) this Friday through Sunday (Oct. 27-29) as part of a 20-city tour. As suggested by its name, the festival features halal food — an Arabic term that denotes meat that is slaughtered in accordance with methods prescribed by Islamic law.
The event was first organized by Salaam Events in collaboration with Eventzilla Group in Toronto last year. Demand and the overall success of that launch led the organizers to kick off a tour that includes the U.S. this year.
Organizers say the ribfest is the first to cater to the needs of the Muslim community.
“North America is multicultural and diverse with over 250 ethnicities representing from around the globe,” the Halal Ribfest said. “Our traditions, values, and lifestyles mesh together to create a cultural mosaic. We are home to over 5 million Muslims. Our objective is to showcase the unique Halal flavors through an authentic ‘Halal’ experience.”
A spokesperson for the organization told FFXnow that Virginia was chosen as a stop because of the high concentration of Muslims in the area.
“We chose Virginia based on the growing Muslim population in the region and the demand for events with Halal options. Halal Ribfest Tour started with the vision of promoting events with Halal-options,” the spokesperson said.
The food festival features halal international cuisine, street food, live entertainment, meet and greets with influencers, shopping stalls, carnival rides and other family-friendly activities.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance for $10. A portion of the festival proceeds is donated to charities, according to organizers. The U.S. tour will conclude with a final stop in California in late November.
The Fairfax County Park Authority is celebrating spooky season with a bat-focused festival next weekend.
The 2023 Bat Festival is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 29, from 3-6 p.m. at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (1551 Trap Road).
Fairfax County is home to eight different species of bats, with big brown bats and Eastern red bats as the most commonly seen, according to the county’s wildlife management department.
“Come celebrate the captivating world of bats, learn about the vital role they play in our ecosystem, understand the threats they face and what you can do to protect them,” Fairfax County said in a release.
A pair of experts will be on hand to help “unveil the mysteries” behind the creature and talk about the challenges they face.
“Enjoy interactive activities for all ages and join our optional costume contest,” the event website said.
The educational tables and costume contest are scheduled for 3 p.m., followed by bat expert presentations at 4 p.m. and a bat listening demonstration at 5:30 p.m.
Guests are encouraged to bring picnic blankets, chairs, food and beverages. Registration is free online.
Photo via Clément Falize/Unsplash
Tysons Corner Center is jumping into the abundant pile of local fall festivals.
The mall announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it will host a fall festival on its plaza from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 21, declaring that the event will be “one of our biggest” of the year.
The festivities will include pumpkin-carving demonstrations from Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, live entertainment, a “Spookie Poochie” pet costume contest and “bark park,” a beer bar from Barrel & Bushel, crafts, face painting, a fall market, a Candytopia photobooth and more.
Starting at noon, singer Scott Kurt and his Arlington-based band Memphis 59 will take the stage. At that time, attendees will also be able to register their pet for the costume contest.
The top three winners of the costume contest will be announced at 3 p.m.
More music will be provided at 3:15 p.m. by JParis, a cover band that plays rock and pop hits.
The fall festival will be free to attend, but the mall still encourages visitors to RSVP through Eventbrite.
This year, the Tysons area has had no shortage of festivals to celebrate the coming of autumn, though the season’s arrival has felt more theoretical than actual so far with temperatures lingering in the low 80s this week.
Oktoberfest came to The Boro and Shipgarten in Scotts Run last month, and the Mosaic District held its annual fall festival last weekend (Sept. 30-Oct. 1). The Town of Vienna is expecting thousands of attendees for its Oktoberfest this Saturday (Oct. 7).
Coming on the heels of celebrations in Tysons, Oktoberfest is set for a raucous return to the Town of Vienna this weekend.
Vienna Oktoberfest will take over Church Street for a 14th year from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 7), bringing food, live music, family-friendly activities and, of course, plenty of brews at a beer and wine garden.
This year’s festival will be the biggest one yet, according to the Vienna Business Association, which organizes the annual event.
“We’re maxed out,” VBA Executive Director Peggy James said, noting that the festival is filled up with over 200 registered vendors and 53 sponsors.
The beer and wine garden will feature more local businesses than previous years, with Hawk & Griffin and Norm’s Beer and Wine joining the Caboose Brewing Company and Vienna Vintner. More food and drink options will be available along Church Street and Mill Street NE.
In addition, the festival’s entertainment offerings can be found on a kid’s stage on the Town Green — where there will also be moon bounces, games and other activities — as well as an acoustic stage on Center Street and the main biergarten stage.
Other Vienna Oktoberfest highlights will include a business expo showcase, a vendor marketplatz along Dominion Road NE and an artisan market.
While parking in town will likely be scarce, a free shuttle bus will travel throughout the festival to the Vienna Metro station and James Madison High School.
A full list of vendors, food and drink offerings and entertainers can be found on the Vienna Oktoberfest website.
Drawing an average of 20,000-30,000 attendees per year, the festival serves as the main fundraiser for the VBA Foundation, the association’s philanthropic arm that supports charity and community servicee organizations in the greater Vienna area.
“We’re really excited about it,” James said. “It’s the same footprint, just bigger.”
Art will take over McLean Central Park this weekend with the return of MPAartfest.
Now in its 17th year, the annual festival from the McLean Project for the Arts (MPA) will be back on Sunday (Oct. 1), promising dozens of artists, food trucks and live entertainment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This will be a comeback for the festival after the prospect of Hurricane Ian canceled its 2022 iteration. Fortunately, a repeat appears unlikely, as the National Weather Service is forecasting clear and sunny skies for Sunday.
“Each fall MPAartfest celebrates our community and the arts in the beautiful setting of McLean Central Park,” MPA Executive Director Lori Carbonneau said. “We are so appreciative of our lead community sponsor, the McLean Community Center, and of all the generous community sponsors who help to make this event possible. We invite all the community to join us for a relaxing and inspiring day of art in the park!”
The event’s centerpiece will be a juried fine arts show featuring more than 35 visual artists from across the Mid-Atlantic region. Their work will be available for sale and on display in mini galleries spread throughout the park at 1468 Dolley Madison Blvd.
The festival will also bring musical guests, food vendors, children’s activities and an outdoor gallery showcasing work by local students, according to a press release from MPA:
MPAartfest will again offer a full day of lively and varied musical performances. Sponsored by Mars and curated by Music Director Ken Avis, radio host of Antidote WERA 96.7 FM and a performing musician with the award-winning band Veronneau, this year’s performers include: Blues Alley Youth Jazz Orchestra (10am), Alison Crockett (11am), Bobby Thompson (12pm), Little Red and the Renegades (1pm), The Honey Larks (2pm), and Taisha Estrada (3pm).
Sponsored by BOWA, Deirdre Maull Orthodontics, McLean Community Foundation, and TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, the MPAartfest Children’s Activity Tents will feature a variety of art-based activities and learning stations. Other art highlights include the New Dominion Women’s Club Children’s Art Walk, a juried open-air gallery displaying artwork from local public and private elementary school students.
On the food front, MPAartfest will once again feature the much-loved Café Beret (sponsored by The Mather) where guests can enjoy wine and beer provided by The Wine Outlet. The event will also offer food from a variety of food trucks and eateries, including Rocklands BBQ, Pikoteo, Timber Pizza, Kona Ice, and MooThru.
Admission to MPAartfest is free. Parking will be available at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue), along with overflow lots at Capital One Bank (6890 Elm Street) and FitzGerald Properties (1446 Dolley Madison Blvd).
MPA’s latest exhibition, “(Not) Strictly Painting,” remains on display inside the community center. Accompanied by an artist talk scheduled for Oct. 19, the biennial showcase of painters from around the region will stay open through Nov. 11.
(Updated at 2:05 p.m. on 9/13/2023) The Commonwealth of Virginia will take center stage at Tysons Corner Center this Saturday (Sept. 16).
The first annual Celebrate Virginia festival will enliven the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with beer and wine tastings as well as live entertainment, an artisan market and a mural painted in real time.
“We are excited to bring the community together at our inaugural Celebrate Virginia event, which highlights everything that makes our home state special,” said Jesse Benites, the director of property management for the mall’s owner, Macerich. “We will be showcasing small Virginia-based businesses, artists, and talent and are thrilled with the support and collaboration from our public officials and community partners.”
Some of those officials are slated to make appearances, including Rep. Gerry Connolly, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, and representatives of the county’s police and fire departments and George Mason University.
Organized in partnership with Visit Fairfax — Fairfax County’s official destination marketing agency — and the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), Celebrate Virginia will be generally open to the public and free to attend.
The only exception is the V.I.P. Wine and Wellness Tent, which requires $40 tickets. The tent will offer tastings from eight different Virginia wineries and access to a pop-up from the five-star resort and spa Salamander Middleburg, where attendees can create a personalized aromatherapy oil.
Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the Merrifield-based nonprofit Food for Others.
As for the free attractions, there will be beer tastings from five breweries, including Chantilly’s Strange Fruit Brewing, Smartmouth Brewing from Hampton Roads and Brother Craft Brewing from Harrisonburg.
The musical line-up will feature:
- 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — DanYko (Alexandria)
- 1-2:30 p.m. — Tejas & Felix (Fairfax City)
- 3-4 p.m. — Zac Quintana & Shawn Cody (Manassas)
The Artisan Makers Market will be similarly stacked with vendors based in Virginia, including many in Fairfax County:
- Inner Loop Coffee Roasters (Falls Church)
- Mother Cluster’s (Fairfax)
- Snugabutter (Annandale)
- Nordic Knot (Reston)
- River Sea Chocolates (Chantilly)
- The Humble Hustle Company (Roanoke)
- Trupti’s Craft: Quilling Gifts (Fairfax)
- Alyssa Mae Crafts (Tysons)
Throughout the day, visitors can also help paint a community mural with Loudoun-based artist Kevin Bednarz, whose work mixes street art, graphics and “original styles,” according to Tysons Corner Center.
“The design will be pre-sketched, and event attendees will be able to paint and bring the mural to life throughout the event,” the mall said. “The final product will be a large piece painted by the community to be exhibited within the shopping center.”
There will also be a “Spin the Tysons Wheel” with limited edition “Virginia is for Shopping Lovers” custom shirts, beanie hats, picnic blankets and other merchandise as the prizes.
“Virginia’s artisan, craft beer, and wine industries have become important drivers of Virginia’s tourism economy, making the Commonwealth an ideal destination for travelers who are seeking authentic, experiential attractions,” VTC Director of Communications Andrew Cothern said. “This event will provide an excellent locally made experience of everything Virginia has to offer firsthand.”
Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar said in a statement that the agency is “thrilled” to help celebrate “talented artisans, makers and musicians” from Fairfax County and across the state.
Organizers hope Celebrate Virginia will become a recurring occasion. It will likely return annually to Tysons Corner Center, which was the “brainchild behind this event,” according to a Visit Fairfax spokesperson.
“We hope residents and visitors alike will come out to see what this amazing destination is all about and even take home a unique piece of Virginia,” Biggar said.
For local bookworms who missed out on last month’s National Book Festival in D.C., you’re in luck.
Fairfax County Public Library will launch a book festival of its own on Sept. 30 with an exclusive focus on writers based in Northern Virginia.
That mission separates the Local Author Book Festival from not just the Library of Congress literary extravaganza, but also George Mason University’s annual Fall for the Book, which will mark its 25th year in October with top-billed guests like “High Fidelity” author Nick Hornby and Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James.
“You would be surprised at the number of writers who live in Northern Virginia!” FCPL Program and Educational Services Director Renee Edwards said. “Every year, we get requests from writers who want the library to host author events where they can meet the public and talk about their books. To bring special attention to our writers and give them the opportunity to meet community members and talk about their books, we are hosting our first Local Author Book Festival.”
Kicking off the festival at 9:30 am with a V.I.P. meet-and-greet at Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road) will be bestselling suspense novelist David Baldacci. The Fairfax Library Foundation, which is sponsoring the festival, describes him as a “Fairfax County favorite son.”
The meet-and-greet will be limited to 50 people, who must purchase a $75 ticket to attend. However, as the festival’s headline speaker, Baldacci will also discuss his novels and answer questions in a free presentation from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a book sale and signing.
Meet-and-greet participants will get a reserved seat for the general presentation.
A lifelong Virginia resident, Baldacci is a mainstay of the local literary scene, appearing in past events at various county library branches and launching a book at Bards Alley in Vienna last year. The Fairfax Library Foundation honored him and his wife in 2012 for starting the Wish You Well Foundation, a Reston-based charity that supports literacy programs.
“David Baldacci is a local author who is a fan of public libraries. In the past, he has presented at several of our branches and people are always excited to hear him speak!” Edwards said. “We think he is the perfect author to kick off the Local Author Book Festival.”
Overall, there will be 40 authors at the inaugural Local Author Book Festival. FCPL invited authors based on a list of people who had signed up to present at the library, according to Edwards, who says “there was a lot of interest.”
Other confirmed participants include “Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals” author Patricia Tanumihardja, “Chronicles of a Royal Pet: Princess and an Ooze” author Ian Rogers, “Havana Hardball: Spring Training, Jackie Robinson, and The Cuban League” author César Brioso, and Jennifer Garman, author of “Flourish: 7 Ways Gratitude can Transform Your Life.”
In addition to allowing community members to meet local authors and buy their books, the outdoor festival will feature snacks, a bookmaking area for kids, a caricature artist, a Silly Shotz photo booth, a raffle for $25 Visa gift cards, and more.
While this festival last just one day, concluding at 3 p.m., FCPL hosts author events year-round. This fall, the library is planning to bring back its Indie Author Day program, which is dedicated to recognizing self-published authors.
Edwards says the library hopes to invite 24 authors to participate in virtual panels from Nov. 1-4.
“Authors and books are our business!” Edwards said. “We love bringing special attention to the people who are right next door — in our county — that may go unnoticed. It is important to us to make sure we are always connecting readers to books.”
The Reston Multicultural Festival will return to Reston Town Center on Sept. 23 with expanded entertainment options.
The festival — which is organized by Reston Community Center, the Reston Town Center Association and Boston Properties (BXP) — will have three stages instead of its usual one. It takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a lineup of entertainment and activities.
“Due to an expanded entertainment lineup and more participating artisans, our cohost, BXP generously extended us the opportunity to enlarge the Festival footprint up Market Street to the Pavilion providing for more performance space,” Lorna Clarke, RCC’s communications director, said.
Beverly Cosham, who chairs RCC’s Board of Governors, said that the festival has embodied the spirit of Reston for more than 20 years.
“Our diversity is our greatest strength,” Cosham said. “We present the Reston Multicultural Festival each year to share the incredible sights, sounds and joyful energy of people who come from all over the world to be here. Bob Simon established Reston as a place where everyone could feel a sense of belonging and discovery.
The festival is also made possible by a partnership with the National Council of Traditional Arts (NCTA). This year’s lineup will feature multiple National Endowment of Arts Heritage fellows. The program recognizes individuals in folk and traditional art.
A breakdown of the fellows is below.
Roen Hufford, Kapa Maker, 2023 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Of Native Hawaiian descent, Roen Halley Kahalewai McDonald Hufford carries on the tradition of ka hana kapa (making bark-cloth) and is a leading figure in the reclamation of this nearly lost art.
The Legendary Ingramettes, Gospel Artists, 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow
The Legendary Ingramettes are widely considered Richmond’s “First Family of Gospel,” uplifting audiences for over six decades while becoming beloved cultural icons in the community.
Wayne Henderson, Luthier, 1995 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Mouth of Wilson, Virginia
Henderson was born, raised and still lives in Rugby, near the North Carolina border. He has taken first place 13 times at the Galax Fiddlers’ Convention guitar competition.
Tsering Wangmo Satho, Tibetan Opera Singer and Dancer, 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Tsering Wangmo Satho was born in a refugee settlement in southern India in 1967. Her elders served as living examples of their traditions and language. Satho trained at the Tibetan Institute of the Arts (TIPA), founded by the Dalai Lama. TIPA serves as a critical response to the threats to Tibetan culture.
More than 20 performances will light up the Park, Market Street and Pavilion stages. The festival will also feature more than 30 arts and crafts vendors with from around the world.
The complete schedule is available online.
The largest Vietnamese heritage festival on the East Coast is elebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend.
The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (7901 Tysons One Place) will be alight with the lively VietFest cultural celebration from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12 and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13. Vietfest is organized by the National Organization for Vietnamese American Leadership of Greater Washington, D.C. (NOVAL-DC).
Celebrated yearly, VietFest returned last year to its largest turnout of over 30,000 attendees after taking a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, its Facebook event page says.
The free, outdoor extravaganza includes cultural performances, a lion dance, a martial arts presentation, a traditional áo dài fashion show, crawfish and pho eating competitions, local food vendors, and beauty pageants. VietFest will also host its fifth annual talent show at 2 p.m. on Saturday, where participants will showcase their talents in hopes of winning a grand prize of $1,000.
To commemorate 10 years of VietFest — from its humble origins in a George Mason University parking lot to a sprawling two-day festival in one of Virginia’s largest shopping malls — the festival will have increased programming and “more food vendors than ever before,” says Bobby Ly, director of VietFest and co-president of NOVAL-DC.
Ly noted that this year’s celebration will feature a new heritage wall filled with photos of VietFest throughout the last 10 years.
“We usually have a heritage wall that’s like 30 feet long with pictures of the Vietnamese community from 1975 to now and all their contributions to the United States,” Ly said. “But this year, our heritage wall is different. It’s going to be…all pictures of Vietfest through all the 10 years that we’ve been doing it. And for me, I’m very proud of that and I think that’s going to be the highlight.”
Ly attributes VietFest’s smashing success over the last decade to its inclusivity, saying that it “stands out” from other festivals in the area because it’s “open to all communities” to participate, even if it’s primarily known as a Vietnamese festival.
“Now going into our 10th year, it’s going very strong,” Ly said. “The whole reason why VietFest was started was to help bring the community together, not just the Vietnamese community, but all other communities…Because every time we have the festival, not only Vietnamese show up, it’s all Asians, all other communities coming out.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, Ly optimistically predicts clear skies and high turnout, reminding visitors that they can always cool off from the heat inside the mall, where VietFest-affiliated vendors will be selling snacks like popcorn.
“The weather looks like it’s going to be nice, no rain,” Ly said. “It’s going to be a little bit hot, but the area where Tysons is, the buildings give us a lot of shade, and we have a little wind, so perfect weather. I have no doubt that we’re going to have a lot of people.”
Though last year set a high bar with its record attendance, Ly is determined to surpass those numbers and continue the momentum built up from 2022.
“I’m hoping that we could do much better this year, but last year, all our vendors, they made enough food for two days, but on the first day they sold everything,” Ly said. “Because of last year, I think this year will be even better because now everybody’s hyped up, and everybody knows that there’s gonna be a lot of people, and most importantly, all of these different organizations, all of these communities are promoting VietFest as though it was their own community.”
“So, you know, I think that this year will be phenomenal, and hopefully it will be the best year ever,” Ly continued. “I mean, that would be fitting since it’s our 10-year anniversary.”
Though it may be hard to believe on a 100-degree day, winter will come to Fairfax County again, and when it does, Kaleido Entertainment and Arts Group will be ready.
For the festival’s return to the D.C. area, Kaleido is planning an even longer season that will kick off around Thanksgiving on Nov. 24 and continue through Feb. 18, according to a special permit application filed with Fairfax County on July 20.
While the previous event was allowed under a temporary special permit, the festival needs to get the Board of Zoning Appeals’ approval this time, because it will last longer than 21 days.
Like before, the event will feature hundreds of illuminated paper lanterns crafted into animals, natural and mythic scenes, and other designs. A list in the application suggests the displays will be laid out in quadrants according to four themes: ocean song, animal world, creative technology and cartoon paradise.
If approved, the festival will again be held in Lerner Town Square at Tysons II (8025 Galleria Drive). The proposed operating hours are 5-9:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Kaleido anticipates having 10 employees on site and 2,000 patrons, though it’s unclear whether that’s per day or over the festival’s full stay. A public relations consultant for the company didn’t return a request for comment from FFXnow by press time.
“Patrons came by cars [or Metro] from 5 pm – 9pm after work on weekends. Last year there were no reported traffic concerns or accidents,” the application’s statement of justification says. “We expect NO negative impact of traffic in and out of Tysons during the hours of operation.”
According to the statement, Tysons II property owner Lerner has agreed to provide 6,046 parking spaces for the festival at five office buildings in the development, which also encompasses Tysons Galleria.
“It is much more than needed,” the application says.
The county hasn’t officially accepted the application for review yet, so the zoning appeals board hearing doesn’t have a scheduled date.