Looking to purchase Festival tickets?
The short answer . . .
Tickets are not available for sale as the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival will not be held in 2023. At this time, there are no immediate plans to start up the multi-year planning process to continue this event in the future.
We know this is hard to hear. We love the Festival too.
HOW WE GOT HERE
The long answer . . .
To fully understand how our work has evolved for over 40 years please read below. The simple answer is COVID-19 expedited changes to our work as a small nonprofit organization. In a nutshell, we are taking the community building from the 3 days of the festival and transforming it to 365 days of community building. Keep scrolling for more information about our transformation.
Our hope is to celebrate the unique place the Festival has in our shared community history, while inviting you to move forward with us as we expand this work from three days to everyday. To learn more about our work, be sure to connect with us via our email newsletter and social media.
Evolving from 3 Days to 365 Days
Celebrate Fairfax Changes Alongside Fairfax County
As a small nonprofit organization, our mission has always been to build community in Fairfax County. Our story is interwoven with the growth and change that has dominated the history of the county. Our story starts 40 years ago when Fairfax County was beginning to rapidly grow from a rural community to a suburban community. While the Festival is what we have been best known for over the years, we have always been integral to community life, working beyond the Festival to develop connections to our community.
Building Community in the 1980’s and 1990’s
Prior to its founding, other Fairfax County fairs existed dating back to the 1700s, but by the 1950s, all had disappeared. Fast forward to the 1980’s, James M. Scott, Providence District Supervisor, led an effort along with the other Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and County leadership to physically find a way to bring the residents together when it lacked a centralized downtown.
Out of this desire, the Festival in the 1980’s was launched as a very small community event held at George Mason University. The event was largely coordinated by the Fairfax County Extension Office and featured a chili cook-off, carnival, and commercial and county government exhibits.
By the end of the decade, the event grew to the point where a dedicated organization was needed to lead the efforts. Faxfair Corporation was formed as a nonprofit organization to lead this work and work in other areas of community building. By the early 1990s, it became apparent that George Mason’s growth mirrored that of the Fairfax Fair, and that the needed space was not easily provided. Faxfair Corporation’s leadership worked with local officials and settled on the brand-new Fairfax County Government Center. The 3-day Fair expanded its county government exhibits and created programs that fit the increasingly tech-driven Fairfax region. Among the major programs created during this time was the SciTech Center, a STEM-focused 10,000-square-foot pavilion of interactive science-based activities. National headliner entertainment was also added including top country and classic rock artists.
The Pandemic Strikes
The Festival continued to grow over the years until the COVID 19 pandemic started in March 2020. As in-person events shut down around the world, the uncertainty around the future had a massive impact on our small nonprofit organization. As corporations, organizations and our entire educational system pivoted in the face of the pandemic, we underwent extensive conversations and analysis to consider how we could sustain our work of over 40 years as the key community building organization for Fairfax County.
We considered how the Festival already relied heavily on partnerships, sponsorships, and good weather to be consistently viable year in and year out. We examined the impact of the loss of income from the 2020 Festival and considered the possibility of the pandemic extending into 2021. Like many of you, we had to think differently if we wanted to survive for another 40+ years, with the ability to weather everything from a three-day rainstorm or future pandemic. In the meantime, we had to lay off staff and shift our day-to-day operations.
The Transformation Begins
Thankfully, with the support and guidance from our founders, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, County leadership, and our Board of Directors, we embraced a decision to move toward a model that reflects the current fast-paced urban growth of Fairfax County and provides us with more opportunities to support year-round engagements in the community. Last year, we announced the beloved Festival would not be returning, but that we would endeavor to bring the “heart” of the Festival to your community. We changed our operating structure and began to rebuild the organization. We realized events and initiatives would not be the same as the large Festival, but we emerged from the pandemic with the ability to bring everyone together again… just differently.
We share your love for the Festival and we hear your disappointment that the Festival is not continuing. We have the same special place in our hearts for this event alongside amazing memories from over the years. While the pandemic wasn’t something anyone anticipated, like so many other nonprofits heavily impacted by the shutdown we have worked hard to survive the aftermath and reimagine how we can better serve our community. We invite you to continue on this journey with us as we work in partnership, and we connect with you in new ways with the goal of making a vibrant community. Please join us on our journey by engaging with our team on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) and sign up for our newsletter.