By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
September will soon be here, and while many are thinking of back-to-school time, this month also means the return of the The Virginia Indian Festival, which this year takes place on Saturday, September 9, 2017. This Native American festival that Fairfax County Park Authority hosts is one of our favorite events and one that each year we try not to miss. Our son loves Native American culture and we all get to enjoy it at this festival, which offers enough activities to experience but is still not so large that it is overwhelming.
Riverbend Park, where the festival takes place, is right on the Potomac River in Great Falls. The park has nice views and trails, and the festival offers a good variety of hands-on activities for kids. Here are some of the reasons why we love the Virginia Indian Festival:
- Great views and trails: Set in a remote river setting, Riverbend Park boasts more than 400 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds. Trails include a 2.5 mile portion of the Potomac Heritage Trail linking national and regional parkland. There are many easy walking paths and shaded areas for picnics.
- Indian history and culture: Native Americans from several tribes provide drumming, music, and dancing; storytelling; demonstrations and cultural artifacts; and more. You can tour a fishing and hunting village to get a glimpse of what life was like for area Indians who lived there long ago.
- Entertainment: Dancers perform in traditional outfits while drummers keep the beat and sing. Performances take place several times throughout the festival and at times spectators are invited to join in a group dance.
- Hands-on activities: Guests of all ages can try out using traditional tools, learn about archery, or help make a dugout canoe as the embers from a fire soften the wood. All activities are close to each other so you don’t have to go far to try them all. There is also storytelling and an Indian crafts market.
Admission is $8 per person or $7 in advance, and the event takes place from 10 am to 4 pm. Note: the main parking lot can fill up quickly, but in that case, event staff will direct you to alternate parking and a shuttle will bring you back. Riverbend Park is at 8700 Potomac Hills Street in Great Falls. See below for some photos from last year’s event!
Photos above (c) Fairfax Family Fun 2014; flyer below courtesy of Fairfax County Park Authority