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The Halal Ribfest is coming to Springfield this weekend (courtesy Halal Ribfest)

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.

A LOVE sign at the Springfield Town Center entrance (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The dalmation and husky from “Paw Patrol” will be on call at Springfield Town Center (6500 Springfield Mall) tomorrow (Saturday) to give kids a day of fun before school resumes on Aug. 21.

Appearances by the animated dogs Marshall and Everest — or at least people costumed to look like them — are among the attractions promised for the mall’s “Fuel for School” event, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Grand Court near the newly opened Lego Discovery Center.

Other planned festivities include entertainment, games, food, a selfie station, face painting, a balloon twister and notebook decorating.

As suggested by its name, the main goal of the event, however, is to collect donations for the Capital Area Food Bank, which distributes more than 50 million meals annually across the D.C. region.

“The Capital Area Food Bank is a phenomenal organization in the Washington, DC region and we are pleased to partner with them on this effort,” Springfield Town Center Marketing Director Justin Roth said. “Their efforts to combat food insecurity in our communities are commendable, and their location in Lorton, just a short drive from our Center, made partnering with them a no-brainer.”

The nonprofit broke ground on an expansion of its facility at 6833 Hill Park Drive back in May. The new, 43,000-square-foot warehouse will provide additional storage and distribution space, as the need for food assistance remains high in the pandemic’s wake.

Donations will be optional at “Fuel for School,” but the town center encourages attendees to contribute money or an accepted food item:

  • Plant Proteins: Canned or dry beans, whole nuts & seeds, or lentils
  • Canned Tuna, Salmon, or Chicken in water
  • Grains: Brown & White rice, pasta, whole oats, corn & flour tortillas
  • Peanut Butter: no hydrogenated oils
  • Pantry staples: cooking oils, tea, non-dairy/shelf stable milks
  • Canned vegetables: low sodium, no salt added
  • Canned fruits in 100% juice
  • Whole grain hot and cold cereal containing less than 7g of sugar per serving
  • Non-salt spice: e.g. black pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, etc.

Donors will get a chance to spin a prize wheel.

Approximately 34% of Fairfax County Public Schools students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals, as of Oct. 31, 2022, according to the school system. At some schools, all students can get a free breakfast and lunch after FCPS joined the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) last year.

For anyone looking for other ways to support students as school returns, the Fairfax nonprofit Britepaths is still raising funds for its Back to School supply drive, which will continue until Aug. 31.


The highly anticipated Lego Discovery Center has launched in Springfield, though it’ll be a few more days before the brick-building mecca officially welcomes the general public.

With a ribbon cut by scissors made out of Lego bricks and a burst of confetti, the 32,000-square-foot attraction opened its doors at Springfield Town Center (6563 Springfield Mall, Suite 12004) around 11 a.m. yesterday to dozens of kids, parents and other adults who snagged advance tickets.

A prebooked ticket is required for admission until the official opening on Monday, Aug. 14.

Under construction since December, the discovery center features a variety of play and building areas, a Mini World with models constructed from more than 1.5 million bricks, a 4D theater, a climbing gym, an indoor train ride and a cafe. There’s also a store with exclusive sets and a customize-a-figure station, among other offerings, that can be accessed separately.

“It’s been such a long time coming,” said Andrew Litterst, the D.C. area’s Master Model Builder. “I was here at the Springfield Town Center back in February, competing for my job title. Six months later, here we are. We’re very excited to finally be at this point. It’s an amazing attraction, and I can’t wait to get inside and work with people.”

A former environmental sciences teacher at Marshall High School, Litterst was anointed master builder for Lego’s first discovery center in the D.C. area after winning a Brick Factor competition where he raced to build models inspired by different themes, like the Super Bowl or space, WAMU reported at the time.

As master builder, he serves as a spokesperson for the center, and he’s responsible for building and maintaining its many Lego models. His creations range in scale from dragons with movable wings to replicas of D.C. landmarks, such as the Capitol and a Nationals Park with an actual view of the National Mall.

Given his background as an educator, perhaps it’s not surprising that Litterst is especially looking forward to delivering the center’s workshops and building challenges, which invite kids to create models in a set amount of time.

“Lego is the embodiment of the scientific method,” Litterst said. “Whatever you’re trying to build, that’s your problem. That’s the question you’re trying to answer, and how you go about building that, that’s kind of the rest of that discovery process. So, I’m going to try building something this way. Oh, that doesn’t look quite right. Let’s tear it down and try a different way, and so, it’s a learning process through trial and error and it’s just a great group activity as well.”

Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk says the combination of entertainment and education makes the Lego Discovery Center a valuable addition to Springfield, particularly at a town center seeking to become a destination for more than just shopping.

Despite a major renovation and rebranding from its original name of Springfield Mall, Springfield Town Center remains dominated by retail and has seen little progress over the past decade toward fulfilling Fairfax County’s vision of accessible, mixed-use development.

An economic market study released last year found that the town center drove an uptick in retail vacancies in Springfield during the pandemic, but the 2-million-square-foot area is “well positioned” to support growth in other sectors, including 800 to 1,200 multifamily residential units and 100,000 to 200,000 square feet of office. Read More

Shoplifting incidents in Fairfax County for 2023 (via FCPD)

Thefts at retail businesses in Fairfax County dropped sharply in June after spiking this spring, local police say.

The Fairfax County Police Department reported on Thursday (July 6) that there were 573 shoplifting offenses last month, down from 642 offenses in May and 603 in April. The department attributes the decline to its increased focus on retail thefts as part of a 2023 summer crime prevention initiative.

Before that, shoplifting had dipped down to 577 incidents in March after over 600 were recorded in both January and February.

“The summer months, particularly June, are notoriously the highest for shoplifting crime in Fairfax County,” the FCPD said. “However, with our efforts this month, we were able to achieve a significant decrease in this crime across the county.”

For the summer initiative, the department says officers increased patrols and community engagement in areas where there are frequent calls for service related to shoplifting and retail theft. Police also met with affected busineseses “to discuss the crimes occurring and offered tips about how they can keep their businesses safe.”

Notable incidents included an arrest of two people who allegedly stole over $10,000 worth of merchandise from a retailer in Tysons and an arrest on July 1 at Springfield Town Center that led to the recovery of $37,000 of allegedly stolen merchandise.

An officer assigned to the Springfield mall recognized two men who were wanted on felony charges for a previous theft, according to the FCPD.

“Upon seeing officers converging on them, the two men fled on foot but were quickly taken into custody,” police said. “Officers completed search warrants on their vehicle and hotel room which resulted in the recovery of security tag removal devices and over 15 large bags of stolen merchandise.”

The merchandise came from incidents in both Fairfax County and a neighboring jurisdiction, according to police.

The summer crime prevention initiative is focusing on different issues each month based on data trends, the FCPD says. For July, teams of officers from each district station are working with the DUI squad to crack down on drivers who are under the influence or otherwise present a danger on the roads.

“Officers will be strictly enforcing traffic laws associated with impaired driving and educating the public about the importance of safe driving habits,” the FCPD announced on June 30.

Drag queen Evry Pleasure will perform and have a meet-and-greet at Springfield Town Center’s inaugural Pride Night Out (courtesy Springfield Town Center)

A Pride Month celebration is coming to Springfield Town Center for the first time ever.

The shopping center at 6500 Franconia-Springfield Parkway will host its inaugural Pride Night Out tomorrow (Friday) from 6-9 p.m. in the lower level Grand Court area near Starbucks.

The event will feature music, giveaways and other activities to support Safe Space NOVA, an Alexandria-based nonprofit that assists LGBTQ teenagers. An ongoing fundraiser organized by the town center will be open through the end of June.

“This is the first time that Springfield Town Center is hosting a Pride Celebration and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with Safe Space NOVA on Pride Night Out!” PREIT Marketing Director Justin Roth said. “Partnering with a phenomenal non-profit that benefits LGBTQ+ youth was a no-brainer.”

PREIT, a Philadelphia-based real estate investment trust, owns Springfield Town Center. Pride Night Out will be its first Pride-related event at any of the properties in its mall portfolio, according to a media alert.

Planned activities include:

  • A performance and charity meet & greet by drag queen Evry Pleasure
  • DJ Pierre with Exclusively Entertainment
  • Pride-themed Glitter Tattoos and Face Painting
  • Pride Photobooth with Selfie station
  • PRIDE ROCKS! — Rock decorating with pride-themed inspirational messages
  • “What does pride mean to you?” banner project
  • Raffle prizes, including two tickets to Wolf Trap’s Out & About Festival, tickets to the Washington Mystics, and much more!

Headlined by folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile, the first-ever Out & About Festival will take place at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts on Saturday and Sunday (June 24-25).

Commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York, Pride Month is recognized in the U.S. each June, including by Fairfax County, as an occasion to celebrate and advocate for the LGBTQ community.

Other upcoming Pride events in the county include a poetry reading at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (5040 Walney Road) in Chantilly on Saturday.

Looking further into the future, Springfield Town Center is gearing up to welcome a 32,000-square-foot Lego Discovery Center, which announced last week that it will open its doors on Aug. 9.

Lego Discovery Center is opening this August in Springfield (via LEGO Discovery Center)

The much-anticipated Lego Discovery Center at Springfield Town Center (6500 Franconia-Springfield Parkway) will open on Aug. 9, meeting its promised summer launch date.

The company announced the grand opening date yesterday (Monday), inviting community members to sign up for its newsletter for access to pre-sale tickets.

“Be one of the first families to visit us from Thursday, August 10th through Sunday, August 13th with a ‘First to Play’ ticket,” Lego Discovery Center D.C. said.

Tickets will go on sale for the general public on Thursday (June 15). Prices start at $28.99 for a standard admission ticket. Higher-priced packages come with a Lego collectible and digital photos.

The announcement was first reported by NBC4.

Located near the mall’s main entrance facing Loisdale Road, the 32,000-square-foot facility broke ground in December. It will feature an interactive play area, a Lego Mini World with sets built from more than 1.5 million bricks, a 4D theater, a train, carousel and more.

Lego Discovery Center announces it will open at Springfield Town Center in August (via Lego Discovery Center DC/Instagram)

Also expected to open at Springfield Town Center this year is a 30,000-square-foot Burlington clothing store, though an exact date hasn’t yet been confirmed. In March, the mall welcomed a Day & Night Cereal Bar.

The mall’s merry-go-round could also potentially be revived this August, aligning with the Lego opening.

A cherry blossom-themed LOVE sign at the Tysons Corner Center Plaza, which will host the inaugural Pedal With Petals family bicycle ride (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 1:55 p.m. on 4/6/2023) Spring is here, and despite a cold snap over the weekend, cherry trees around the D.C. area are rapidly approaching full bloom.

The Yoshino cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin remain on track with the National Park Service’s prediction that they will reach peak bloom — meaning that 70% of the flowers will be open — between Wednesday and Saturday (March 22-25).

Accordingly, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is now underway, though the official opening ceremony isn’t until this coming Saturday.

Since launching in the 1920s, the annual festival has expanded beyond D.C.’s borders, including to Fairfax County. For those who’d prefer not to endure the downtown crowds and traffic, there are plenty of events to catch closer to home when not taking in the flowers at local viewing spots like Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

Celebration at the Lab

The Children’s Science Center has “transformed” its lab at Fair Oaks Mall into a scavenger hunt with various experiments to teach kids about the history and science of cherry blossoms.

Tickets are available for two-hour time slots at the lab between 10 a.m. and noon, and 2-4 p.m. from Saturday (March 25) through April 8. They cost $15 each, but there is a $2 discount for registering online.

Art Blooms at Mosaic

The Mosaic District in Merrifield has again partnered with the D.C. festival for a two-day celebration of its own that will feature live music on two different stages, crafts and farmers markets, and family-friendly activities, including a game corner and a “glamor” tent with hair-braiding and face-painting.

For adults, some restaurants in the neighborhood allow alcoholic beverages outside. A full list of Sip and Stroll participants and the festival’s performance schedule can be found on the Mosaic District website.

Complimentary shuttle service will be provided from the Dunn Loring Metro station to the festival, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 1 and 2. Read More

A grand opening for the cereal bar is slated for Saturday at noon (courtesy Day and Night Cereal Bar/Instagram)

(Updated at 10:50 a.m. on 3/18/2023) Breakfast lovers can experience a new kind of cereal bar at Springfield Town Center this weekend.

Day & Night Exotic Cereal Bar, a business that offers custom-made cereal products, will open a 600-square-foot restaurant on Saturday (March 18) at the town center. The grand opening event from noon to 4 p.m. will feature a DJ and giveaways.

The business sells products like a classic bowl of cereal, cereal waffles, and cereal shakes. A soft opening is planned for a selected audience tomorrow (Thursday).

“We have always wanted to invest in something radical, fun, cool, and innovative – it was as if Day and Night Exotic Cereal Bar was calling our name,” franchise co-owner Brandi Forte said. “We are thrilled about opening at Springfield Town Center, and we look forward to delivering quality food and a nostalgic experience with a personal touch to our new customers.”

The Springfield location is managed by Forte and Noel Warner, who are from the area.

According to a press release, Forte is a bestselling author and businessperson in the District. She is also the CEO of Amala Lives Institute, a vocational school for adults. Warner is the CEO of FiveStar Powerwashing and Cleaning Services. The duo have been business partners since 2016.

The cereal bar got its start in 2020 in Los Angeles during the peak of the pandemic. There are now 10 franchises nationwide.

The Springfield store is located at the lower level of the mall (6500 Franconia Parkway) near Target. The business hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday.

The Springfield location is the second in the D.C. area, with the first being in Clarksville, Maryland.

Photo courtesy Day & Night Cereal Bar/Instagram

Burlington will open a store in the current, temporary H&M space at Springfield Town Center (courtesy PREIT)

(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Springfield Town Center is gearing up for a big 2023.

Burlington will open a 30,000-square-foot store at the mall this year, property owner PREIT announced today.

Coupled with the much-anticipated Lego Discovery Center, which is expected to open this summer, the addition of the clothing department store will put the town center at a record 95.5% occupancy, according to a press release.

“We are pleased to welcome Burlington Stores to Springfield Town Center, another milestone in our mission to create a diverse tenant mix including non-traditional mall retailers,” PREIT Chairman and CEO Joseph Coradino said in a statement.

Burlington’s store will have two levels and both exterior and interior entrances. It will be located by Nordstrom Rack along Frontier Road, moving into a space that H&M is currently occupying on a temporary basis.

H&M’s permanent store is undergoing a renovation that will open this spring. After that store moves into its new space, construction on Burlington will begin, according to a town center spokesperson.

The Springfield Burlington will be the company’s sixth store in Fairfax County, joining locations in Fairfax City, Tysons, Seven Corners, and Bailey’s Crossroads.

Currently anchored by department stores like Target and Macy’s, Springfield Town Center welcomed over 20,000 square feet of stores in 2022, according to PREIT. New arrivals included the fashion accessory store Lovisa, the pop culture merchandise store BoxLunch, Shawarma Taco, and Carter’s, a kids’ clothing store.

In addition to Burlington and Lego, upcoming tenants will include Daily Thread, a clothing chain primarily based in the Midwest.

Though envisioned by Fairfax County as more of a mixed-use community, Springfield Town Center has remained primarily focused on retail even after undergoing a major renovation and rebranding almost a decade ago.

Development efforts finally took a step forward on Dec. 6, when the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved plans for a five-story hotel and a 460-unit residential building called the Hanover, which will give Springfield its first new multifamily housing since 2001.

“The addition of Burlington Stores, the upcoming opening of Lego Discovery Center, and the planned apartment and hotel developments will strengthen the property’s appeal to customers and prospective tenants,” Coradino said.

Though the town center has no shortage of clothing options like Burlington, a market study released last fall suggested that the Lego Discovery Center will help diversify the town center’s retail offerings, which have started to trend more toward food service and entertainment.

The 32,000-square-foot facility broke ground on Dec. 8. It will feature interactive activities, a “mini world” made out of over 1.5 million Lego bricks, a 4D movie theater and more.

“It’s an engagement opportunity that I think is one that’s going to drive a lot of people to want to come and bring their sons and their daughters,” Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk told FFXnow in a Nov. 18 interview. “So, I’m really, really excited by it. I think it’s going to be a unique and well-attended facility.”

A hotel is slated for approval at Springfield Town Center (via Fairfax County)

The first pieces of the long-anticipated redevelopment of Springfield Town Center are officially moving forward.

At a Nov. 30 meeting, the Fairfax County Planning Commission voted to approve the replacement of a surface parking lot with a five-story hotel — a move that the applicant says could jumpstart the rebirth of the area that surrounds the mall.

David Gill, the applicant’s representative from Wire Gill, said the hotel — Home2 Suites by Hilton — is a “great first step in analyzing the vision that was thought of nearly a decade from now.” The building sits across two parcels fronting Loisdale Road on property owned by Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings tomorrow on the hotel and a companion application for the Hanover, a mid-rise residential building with up to 460 units.

Overall, in 2007, the area was approved for 2 million square feet of commercial space and up to 2,736 residential units, in addition to the roughly 1-million-square-foot mall.

The hotel piece of the property only covers a roughly 5.4-acre piece of the overall development plan.

The latest proposal swaps the hotel with the original location of the first office building planned on the site. The plan also calls a reduction in hotel rooms from 225 to 140 rooms and a reduction in the ground-floor retail from up to 23,000 square feet to a small portion that will serve hotel guests.

Gill said that the applicant plans to build suites only.

Braddock District Commissioner Mary Cortina expressed concerns about the deferral of a Central Park that was previously set to be triggered by the development proposal, due to challenges with “no build” areas maintained by restaurants.

“When are we ever going to see the park part of this? Could this use be indefinitely put off? And I think it would detract from the property value overall,” Cortina said.

County staff noted that the applicant is still committed to the Central Park, but when market conditions and associated easements allow it to move forward in a realistic manner.

Planning Commissioner David Lagana lauded staff for their work on the project.

“We worked very hard to get this application ready for this board date. It was a Herculean effort,” he said.


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