Treasures From Ur
Ancient musical instruments, gold and bead jewelry, tools and weapons are among the 150 objects on display at "Treasures From the Royal Tombs of Ur," opening Sunday and continuing through Jan. 17 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW (Metro: Smithsonian). Ur, the ancient Sumerian city-state -- and the traditional birthplace of biblical patriarch Abraham -- was in what is now southern Iraq. The objects were discovered by a British expedition between 1922 and 1934. The gallery is open from 10 to 5:30 daily. Admission is free. Call 202/ 357-2700 (TDD: 202/
More than 800 Revolutionary War and French & Indian War reenactors; concerts by U.S. military bands; a performance by the U.S. Army Fife & Drum Corps ("The Old Guard"); a changing of the guard ceremony repeated throughout the day at George Washington's tomb; and other activities are featured in the program "George Washington: Citizen Soldier," Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5 at Mount Vernon. Admission, which includes tours of the estate, is $8, $7.50 for seniors and $4 for children 6 through 12 (younger free). Mount Vernon is on the south end of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, 16 miles south of Washington. Call 703/780-2000.
The Gold Cup
The 62nd running of the International Gold Cup is on Saturday at the Great Meadow course in The Plains, Va. The program of seven races starts at 1:30. Gates open at 10. The International Gold Cup, a 3.5-mile steeplechase over 20 post and rail fences, is at 3:50. General admission for one car and up to six people is $40 in advance, $50 at the gate ($10 in advance for each additional person, $20 at the gate). Take I-66 west to Exit 31, Route 245/The Plains and drive south 2.5 miles to Great Meadow. For advance tickets (through Friday) and information, call 540/347-1215.
The fall foliage in the Virginia countryside is near the peak of color, reason enough to take a country drive to these festivals:
## n More than 25 hot air balloons will compete in the Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival, Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Long Branch plantation in Millwood, Va. Balloon pilots will make two flights each day, at 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., weather permitting. Festival activities run from 9 to 5 each day and include bluegrass concerts, magic shows,
an antique car display, wine tastings and free children's carnival rides. Admission is $5 per person or $20 per carload. Take U.S. 50 16 miles west of Middleburg and turn left on Route 624. Call 888/558-5567.
## n Tour 19 farms; enjoy hayrides and petting zoos; see llamas, buffalo, horses and goats; navigate a hay maze; and sample wines during the Farm Color Tour of the Loudoun Valleys, Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 4. Admission is free during the self-guided driving tour. Brochures are at all Loudoun County libraries, at the Visitors Center, 108-D South St. SE, Leesburg, or at Ida Lee Park, 50 Ida Lee Dr. The brochure is also available on the Internet at www.loudounva.com/rural_econ. Call 800/752-6118 or 703/
A Tribute to Paz
Internationally renowned scholars and artists will gather in two cities for "A Tribute to Octavio Paz: In Memoriam 1914-1998," Wednesday through Oct. 24. Paz, the Mexican poet who described poetry as "the secret religion of the modern age," won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990. The tribute is hosted by the Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th St. NW (Metro: Columbia Heights) Wednesday from 10 to noon and Thursday from 10 to 4:45. The tribute is also held at the Library of Congress's Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE (Metro: Capitol South) Wednesday from 1:30 to 5 and at the Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Wednesday from 5 to 7:30. The tribute continues in New York City. Scheduled events in Washington include panel discussions (on topics such as "From Art to Politics: The Romantic Liberalism of Octavio Paz"). All events are free, but reservations are required. For a schedule of events, call 202/728-1624; for reservations, call 202/728-1675.
Eighty-one photographs by such artists as Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark and Nan Goldin are on exhibit in "The Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century" at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW (Metro: Metro Center). 202/783-5000.
-- Michael O'Sullivan
Through Dave Alvin's days with the Blasters, stint with X and solo career, he's proven himself adept at rockabilly, country punk and straightforward ballads. You can hear this extraordinary songwriter on Wednesday night at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. 703/549-7500. Be sure and get there early enough to catch Buddy and Julie Miller, whose twangy charms are always entertaining live.
-- Curt Fields
How much is lost and how much gained when the culture of the street goes commercial? From Psalmayene 24, choreographer of "The Hip Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown," comes "Rhyme Deferred," which explores what happened to the hip-hop underground, Friday, Saturday and Tuesday through Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. at Howard University's Environmental Theatre Space, 2455 Sixth St. NW. 202/806-7100.
-- Sarah Kaufman