If you're ready to flirt with sensory overload, the kids can close out the summer in fine style this weekend at the 13th annual International Children's Festival at Wolf Trap. There'll be athlete-dancers from Taiwan, more dancers from places as far away as Colombia and Korea, jugglers, magicians, musicians, mimes, puppeteers, storytellers and workshop experts on everything from corn-grinding to silkscreening -- in all a thousand participants, many of them children, from more than 20 countries.
"It's always a bash," says Amina Dickerson, of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art, which is sponsoring a workshop on African cloth-printing. "We get a kick out of the kids and parents together. It's refreshing!"
"There's a lot of energy in the day and it's becoming a tradition for the holiday weekend," she adds. "We get variety of kids there . . . It's a mishmash of everybody -- they cover the globe."
They also cover the landscape. Last year, more than 20,000 people attended, and a similar number are expected this weekend for the festival, which runs from 11 to 4 Saturday through Monday.
Much of the attraction is the "great variety of different acts for all ages," according to Sandra Wixon, an Arlington mother with two boys, Matthew, seven, and Andy, four, who went last year and "had a great time." The kids "ended up singing and acting out the acts for several weeks afterwards," she says. "Matthew was really encouraged by the festival and wants to get a guitar."
Wixon, like several other mothers, notes that concession lines get rather long and counsels parents to "bring something to drink. It gets pretty warm. Bring a jug of ice water."
Kathy Harvey of Springfield concurs: "I really recommend taking a lunch and sitting on the grass and listening to the concerts."
Concerts, of course, are just part of the enormous movable feast. Here's just a sampling of the activities:
* On Saturday, you can see a combination of performing arts and athletics by a group of Taiwanese youngsters, musicians from Colombia, cloggers from the Old Dominion, jazz from McLean, dancers from Venezuela, and English handbell ringers, plus performances by Deaf Dimensions and the D.C. Percussion Society -- just to name a few activities.
* On Sunday: The Jewish Community Center Symphony, Mexican folk ballet, a Cambodian dance troupe, Chinese dancers, and tap dancers, plus a sword team, puppeteers and "Billy B. sings about trees."
* On Monday: Philippine music ensemble, Korean Society dancers, Celtic music, the Norwegian Chorale of Washington and the Folger Theater Young People's Conservatory, plus Jeb Stuart High School Madrigal Singers and "Dinosaurs Forever!"
In addition to the heaping schedule of activities running concurrently in the Meadow Center, Theater in the Woods, Plaza Stage and Concert Shell, a wealth of other performances, plus the workshops, will be available throughout the park.
The festival benefits the Fairfax County Council of the Arts, a private, non-profit corporation that last year raised $50,000 from the event, nearly a third of the total operating budget for the county's cultural program, which reaches more than 200,000 children and adults in Fairfax each year.
Tickets may be purchased at the gate: adults $5; children 4 to 12 and adults 65 and older, $3.50; kids under 4 free. For additional information, call 941-1527 or 255- 1800.