After more than a year of planning and preparation, Fairfax City is set to launch its first local cultural arts festival tomorrow night with concerts, films, plays and other events among the activities for the three-day event. Festival organizers said city officials wanted to give more attention to Fairfax City's local performing arts organizations, such as the Fairfax Symphony and George Mason University's theater and dance groups.

"A lot of people think the only place to go for theater or dance is across the river," said Claudia Lewis, festival spokesman. "We wanted to focus on the local performing arts" in Fairfax City.

The festival begins tomorrow at 7 p.m. with a youth art show at Fairfax High School followed by two hours of music by the Fairfax City Band, the Fairfax Symphony Brass Quintet, the George Mason University Dance Company and the Fairfax High Jazz Lab, among others. Tickets for the entire musical program are $3.

All day Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be able to choose from among several performing and visual arts programs designed to entice those interested in all sorts of culture, from silk-screening and weaving demonstrations to children's films and poetry readings.

On Saturday starting at 10 a.m. in Fairfax High School, 3500 Old Lee Hwy., there will be a free four-hour program of concerts, plays and demonstrations performed by students from the city's public schools.

Also on Saturday, in the Fairfax County Judicial Center, off Chain Bridge Road, and along the downtown historic district, there will be an art show featuring the works of local professional artists.

The weekend's events include an evening of classical and jazz music (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Old Town Hall), poetry readings (Sunday, 2 p.m., Old Town Hall), and a free concert by the Fairfax City Band (Sunday, 4 p.m., Fairfax High). For information on the weekend's scheduled events, call 385-7857.