While many U.S. lawmakers flee Washington, D.C., for the Congressional recess each August, the nation's capital comes alive in other ways during the dog days of summer. Washington and its surrounding suburbs in Maryland and Virginia are bursting with family-friendly entertainment throughout the month, from county fairs to NFL training camp. If you plan to attend one of these outdoor events, keep in mind that Washington, D.C., in August is often hot and humid—with temperatures reaching the above 80 degrees Fahrenheit—so plan your outings accordingly.
Many events have been altered or canceled in 2020, so check the organizers' websites for updated information.
The Arlington County Fair, one of the largest in the region, typically takes place at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington, Virginia, but in 2020, it will be conducted digitally due to health and safety concerns. Its original August 12 to 16 dates will be replaced by a three-day virtual event. Whereas the fun usually includes an interactive aquarium, arts and crafts, jewelry vendors, and competitive displays in an air-conditioned exhibit hall, this year's fair will feature online exhibits and activities instead. The full schedule will be announced ahead of time on the event website.
Fairfax Frying Pan Farm Park 4-H Fair and Carnival
This two-in-one carnival and farm show has been canceled in 2020. Every August, the Herndon, Virginia, extravaganza takes over Frying Pan Park with livestock and 4-H shows, fair games, carnival rides, vendor and educational booths, fried food, and interactive exhibits (ever milked a goat before?). The Fairfax 4-H Fair Frying Pan Park Farm Show—a 70-some-year-old tradition rooted in good, old-fashioned country fun—would have taken place from July 30 to August 2.
Speaking of farm animals, the Howard County Fair in West Friendship, Maryland, is a guaranteed place to find ponies, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and other livestock in the D.C.-Baltimore metropolitan corridor. It also comprises your average lineup of amusement rides, games, and rowdy events like the highly anticipated tractor pulls. The 75th Annual Howard County Fair, scheduled for August 8 to 15, 2020, has been canceled this year, but the Youth Livestock Show and a handful of other to-be-announced events will be taking place virtually in its place.
The largest county fair in Maryland is the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in Gaithersburg. It describes itself as the “nine best days of summer,” brimming with all-American entertainment like outdoor concerts, flea markets, agricultural displays, the crowning of fair royalty, remote-control car races, and a demolition derby. The fair holds a food-driven scavenger hunt featuring the best-in-show chili dogs and funnel cakes, so you're guaranteed not to go hungry. You can also purchase quilts, handmade clothing, canned goods, baked goods, and homegrown vegetables, and enjoy exhibits of arts and crafts by local youth. The 2020 Montgomery County Agriculture Fair has been canceled.
Virginia's largest county fair takes place in Manassas every August, but has been canceled in 2020. The Prince William County Fair was founded back in 1949 by a group of World War II veterans who wanted to help promote the county's agricultural industry. In fact, there's a book all about its history called "Farms Forever – Forever Farms," available for purchase in the fair office. More than seven decades after its inaugural year, it has grown immensely to now include hilarious lawnmower races, tractor pulls, livestock and home arts exhibits, a baby contest, live performances, games, carnival rides, and a mechanical bull that bucks all day long.
Friendship Firehouse Festival
The Friendship Firehouse Festival takes place in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, every first Saturday in August. Put on by the Friendship Firehouse, a museum honoring Alexandria's first fire company, founded in the 1700s, this celebration welcomes revelers into the museum for crafts, live musical entertainment, giveaways, and more. Adults will love marveling at antique fire apparatuses while their kids get to see what it's like to sit in the passenger seat of a fire truck outside.
Redskins Training Camp
Normally, August marks the beginning of football season and Washington, D.C., is, of course, home to the Washington Redskins. The team typically trains in front of its fans at Redskins Park in Richmond, Virginia, but in 2020, Washington will train instead in Ashburn to protect the players' health and safety.