Lose yourself in fun as you celebrate Fairfax

The annual festival offers tunes, tastes and tot activities.

Celebrate Fairfax!
Photo courtesy of Celebrate Fairfax!

Hop on a Ferris wheel, dig into a doughnut and sing along to cherished hits by Bush and Everclear. Basically, relive your youth.

Now in its 36th year, the Celebrate Fairfax! festival runs June 9-11 and is likely to attract tens of thousands of visitors for carnival rides, concerts and craft beer.

“Your traditional county fair features more of an agricultural focus, and our event really is more of a music festival and fair hybrid,” says Meagan Butkus, vice president and managing director of Celebrate Fairfax! “There’s different programs that are geared toward families with an educational slant, but for the most part, we don’t have a basis in agriculture.”

Scores of bands will play the festival’s eight stages throughout the weekend, including several local groups. Fredericksburg folk-rock band Virginia Man, currently competing for a slot at Arrington’s massive Lockn’ Festival, is psyched to play the same event as Everclear.

“We’re younger guys, so not everybody understands how awesome Everclear used to be,” says lead singer Kristian Lietzan. “In the ’90s, it was like they were on some trip, where it was like, ‘Hey, here’s some fire, and then here’s some more fire, and then here’s a gold record. You’re welcome.’”

Celebrate Fairfax!
Photo courtesy of Celebrate Fairfax!

Festivalgoers should definitely arrive hungry—and thirsty. In addition to the 30-plus food vendors (highlights include Peruvian empanadas and gourmet tater tots), doughnut enthusiasts can go all in at Saturday’s doughnut-eating contest. Wine drinkers can sample from nine local vintners at the Taste of Virginia tent, and new this year is the festival’s Sunday craft beer event.

“Instead of bringing in a show, we are converting that entire area, changing it over from Saturday night into Sunday into what we’re calling The Sunday Brew, which is going to be a craft pop-up brew festival” featuring about a dozen breweries, Butkus says.

Parents are encouraged to bring the kids along to the festival, with children’s performers, carnival rides, a petting zoo and a Children’s Avenue geared toward the younger set.

“The Children’s Avenue’s designed to be completely free, so it’s a pressure-free zone where parents can go through and do all the activities with their kids and not once have to take out their wallet,” Butkus says.

There’s also silent disco, a 5K, a karaoke competition, an aquatic dog-jumping competition, team trivia, an escape room and several more diversions to help any NoVA local get lost in the revelry.

Adult (13 and older) tickets are $12-$75; youth (3-12) tickets are $5 and children 2 and under free.