Fairs, Big and Small

* The huge Maryland State Fair, opening Friday and running through Sept. 6, features livestock and agriculture displays, a midway with more than 30 rides and horse racing at the Timonium track (daily starting Saturday). Exhibits are open from 10 to 10 daily. The midway opens at 10 on weekends and noon on weekdays and closes every day at 11 p.m. Admission, which includes the 10-race program of horse racing at 1 p.m., is $4 for ages 12 and older (younger free). Free parking is available behind the Cow Palace on the west side of the fairground. Take I-95 north to I-695 west to I-83 north to Exit 17/Padonia Road, bear right to Padonia Road and turn right onto Deereco Road for the park-and-ride lot. For the other lots (parking $1 or $2, depending on the distance from the fair), remain on Padonia Road, turn right at York Road and follow signs. Call 410/252-0200.

* The small Lucketts Fair features bluegrass music and a children's stage with a magician and variety acts, a crafts fair, and other diversions on Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 6 at the Lucketts Community Center, eight miles north of Leesburg on U.S. 15. Admission is $3 for ages 6 and older (younger free). Call 703/771-5281.

Merrie Olde England

The Maryland Renaissance Festival, a celebration of life in 16th-century England, opens Saturday in Crownsville. The festival features more than 200 performers, including actors portraying King Henry VIII and his royal court, magicians and musicians, jousting matches, more than 140 crafts artisans and other diversions. It is open from 10:30 to 7 Saturdays and Sundays (plus Labor Day) through Oct. 24. Admission is $13.95, $12 for seniors and $4.95 for ages 7 through 15 (younger free). Take U.S. 50 east to Route 3 north, drive two miles to Route 450 east, then six miles east to Crownsville Road. Turn left and drive a half-mile to the festival. Call 800/296-7304 or 410/266-7304.

Bayfest

Concerts by Shadow Chasers Band, Caribash and 2-4-U; pony and train rides and other activities for children; a luau; and 100 craft artisans are featured Saturday and Sunday in Bayfest '99, North Beach's celebration of summer. The festival is from noon to 6 both days, with a special concert by the Moonlighters from 7:30 to 10:30 Saturday evening. Admission to the festival is free. The luau is Sunday from noon to 6; admission to it is $19.95, $7.95 for children ages 7 through 12 (under 7 free). Buy tickets to the bayside luau at the North Beach Town Hall, 8916 Chesapeake Ave. North Beach is about 25 miles from the Capital Beltway. Take Route 4 south to Route 260, bear left and continue to Route 261 and then turn left and drive to the festival. Call 301/855-6681.

Hear the Beat

Ile Aiye, Brazil's oldest Afro-Brazilian drumming, Carnival and samba group, performs with Capoeira Angola, a martial arts and dance troupe; Axe, a troupe of drummers from Baltimore; and the go-go percussionists Optimystic Tribe, Monday at 8 at Howard University's Cramton Auditorium, 2455 Sixth St. NW (Metro: Shaw/ Howard University). Tickets are $15 and $20 from Ticketmaster, 202/432-7328 (service charges). For information, call 202/806-7194.

Get Your Kicks In

More than 2,000 martial artists from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa will compete in the U.S. Capitol Classics, Friday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt, 10th and H streets NW, and Saturday from 9 to 4 p.m., with the finals at 8 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center, Ninth and H streets NW (Metro: Metro Center, Gallery Place/Chinatown). Tickets are $8 for Friday night and $15, $25 and $50 for all Saturday sessions (children 3 and younger admitted free). Call 301/249-4466.

`King Lear'

Ted van Griethuysen stars in the title role when Shakespeare's apocalyptic tragedy "King Lear" opens Tuesday and runs through Oct. 24 at the Shakespeare Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW (Metro: Archives/Navy Memorial, Gallery Place/ Chinatown). Performances are Tuesdays (except Sept. 7) and Wednesdays at 7:30; Thursdays and Fridays at 8; Saturdays at 2 and 8 (no matinees Sept. 5 and 25 ); and Sundays at 2 and 7:30. There will also be matinees at noon Sept. 22 and Oct. 20. Tickets are $14 to $58. Call 202/547-1122 for tickets or more information (TDD: 202/638-3863).

Dinosaurs Seen on Mall!

`See an 80-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex and other fierce dinosaurs of the era at the 40-minute, 3-D IMAX movie "T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous," Saturday at 7:50 at the Johnson IMAX Theatre in the National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW (Metro: Federal Triangle). Tickets are $12. Call 202/357-3030.