Autumn in Fairfax County brings a plethora of community events that are fun and family-oriented. Perhaps my favorite is the annual Mason District Park Festival, almost always held on the last Saturday in September. For the 27th year, the Mason District Park Festival will feature arts and crafts, food, police and fire demonstrations, live entertainment on the showmobile stage, and kids’ rides, including a free hayride.
The Mason District Park Festival was founded by the Friends of Mason District Park in 1980 as a family event. There were two goals for that first event: draw more people to the park, which had opened in 1977; and raise enough money to purchase a weed eater to help park staff with maintenance chores. The effort was successful. A few thousand people enjoyed a very nice day in the park, and we raised enough money to buy not only a weed eater, but a tractor as well! Since that first foray, the Friends have raised and donated back to the park more than $150,000 worth of goods and services, including playground equipment, landscape plantings and turf management equipment, and the sign board at the entrance to the park. The Friends even bought the baby-changing tables for the restrooms!
When the Newton Edwards Amphitheatre was built in 1984, the Friends under-wrote sponsorship of concerts, purchased a roll-up specialty floor for dance performances, and financed the sound system. Since the early 1990s, the popular Spotlight by Starlight free summer concert series also has helped achieve the Friends’ original goal of bringing more people into the park. Jazz, folk, and big band sounds echo across the amphitheatre grounds every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday night during the summer, and it’s all free. On Saturday mornings, the children’s programs draw dozens of families for puppet shows, story telling, and introduction to music by Fairfax Symphony Orchestra members. The 2006 concert series was very popular, thanks in part to the corporate sponsorship of ExxonMobil, Goodwin House Bailey’s, The West*Group, Cox Communications, and Magill’s Restaurant in Annandale.
This year’s Mason District Park Festival will be held on Saturday, September 30, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. (Rain date is Sunday, October 1, same hours.) Admission to the festival is free. Mason District Park is located at 6621 Columbia Pike, just west of its intersection with Sleepy Hollow Road.
This year, the Mason District Park Festival is competing with Fall for Fairfax, held at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax. Hours are 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Admission also is free, but it’s much closer to come to Mason District Park, isn’t it?