July 19, 2008

Occoquan River Festival Set for Next Sunday

By Bennie Scarton Jr., Manassas Journal Messenger, Va.

Jul. 19--An inaugural festival "celebrating life along the Occoquan River" is planned for July 27 in five locations from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Prince William and Fairfax counties.

The Occoquan River Festival 2008 will take place at Belmont Bay, historic Occoquan, Occoquan Regional Park, Rivergate Condominiums and Workhouse Arts Center.

"We have a full day of great activities that include history, fun, food, music and shopping and more at the locations," said John Houser, manager of the Occoquan Regional Park.

The festival is the initial project of the Occoquan River Communities Inc., a grassroots organization formed to showcase the many attractions along the Occoquan River, from Lorton in Fairfax County to the confluence of the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers near Belmont Bay.

The festival will allow visitors to park in one location and use the river to travel via water taxi to the various destinations. Attendees may participate in a variety of experiences along the way--including a tall ship, music and food at Belmont Bay; an open house at the new Rivergate Condominiums; a preview of the new Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton; history and balloon rides at the Occoquan Regional Park; and sidewalk sales, a food and wine tasting, and carriage rides and a ghost tour in historic Occoquan.

Shuttle buses will also run from the Regional Park to the Arts Center, the buildings that were once part of the D.C. Workhouse and Reformatory Property and now provide a visual and performing arts studio and exhibition space for more than 150 of the region's professional and emerging artists.

Following are the highlights of the day's festivities:

--In Historic Occoquan, from noon to 7 p.m., there will be sidewalk sales, musicians, craft demonstrations, historic re-enactments, carriage rides and the Gaslight Landing open house. From 3 to 5 p.m., food and wine tastings from nine restaurants at Madigan's Waterfront Restaurant will take place. From 7 to 9 p.m. there will be a ghost lecture and tour.

--Occoquan Regional Park, at 9751 Ox Road in Lorton, will host a Suffragists Memorial Dedication at Turning Point Plaza at 10 a.m.; a stream life demonstration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Fairfax Water Bar from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; an authentic 1800s oyster boat and a John Smith Shallop display from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; the Potomac Heritage National Trail Dedication at 11:45 a.m.; kayak classes and river paddles from noon to 4 p.m., a food fair from noon to 9 p.m., a "critter alive" demonstration from 2 to 4 p.m.; and hot air balloon rides from 6 to 9 p.m.

--At Belmont Bay, on Belmont Bay Drive in Woodbridge, the American Spirit Schooner will be at Belmont Bay Harbor from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Science Museum of Virginia's Space Travel Trailer will be on Village Green from noon to 6 p.m. and Dixie Bones barbecue and live music will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

--Tours will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at Workhouse Arts Center, at 9601 Ox Road in Lorton.

--Rivergate Condominiums, at 13208 Marina Way in Woodbridge, will host an open house from noon to 6 p.m.

"Join us as we celebrate the Occoquan River. This is a great all-day event and shouldn't be missed by the public," Houser said.

Staff writer Bennie Scarton Jr. can be reached at 703-369-6707.


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