If you're too sunburned to go back to the beach this weekend, you may want to head over to the 11th annual Arlington County Fair.

The fair will open today and run through Sunday at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center at 3501 S. Second St. in Arlington.

According to fair administrator Joan Culver, Arlington's is one of the few county fairs in Virginia with free admission and is one of the best-attended in the state. Last year, 45,000 people turned out, and fair officials are hoping to see 60,000 this weekend, she said.

The fair will feature a large display of food, exhibits and live entertainment.

You can find familiar summer taste treats such as ice cream, fruit cups, watermelon, hot dogs, popcorn and soft drinks along with more exotic culinary delights such as Vietnamese barbecued lemon beef and Mexican enchiladas.

Arlington residents have until 9 a.m today to enter contests for homemade decorated foods and baked goods, jellies and jams, needlework, clothes, crafts, fine arts, photography, home-grown fruits and vegetables, flowers and potted plants, ceramics, and honey and beeswax. The contests have four age divisions: child (age 6 and under), youth (7 to 12), teen (13 to 18) and adult (19 and older). Competitive exhibits will be on display through the end of the fair.

For children, the fair offers a 55-foot-high ferris wheel, a moon bounce, pony rides and a chance to pat animals both common and unusual: llamas, sheep, roosters and goats.

About 300 display booths offering everything from homemade crafts, such as baskets and stained glass, to political candidates will be set up inside and outside the community center. Free live entertainment will run continuously indoors and will include the Old Dominion Cloggers, the Merrymakers, the Sahara Dancers and quilt-making demonstrations.

The fair will open with the barbershop quartet, the Arlingtones.

Special events will include helicopter rescue demonstrations by the fire department and robot demonstrations by the police force.

In addition, the fair will feature a one-mile fun run on Saturday morning. Roller-skating and softball games, as well as tournaments in volleyball, table tennis and badminton, will also be featured.

Fair hours: today, 7 to 10 p.m. with opening ceremonies for the first hour; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Limited free parking is available at the community center. However, residents are encouraged to use free shuttle bus service, which will run every 20 minutes from the Orange Line's Virginia Square Metro station and from Arlington's Career Center at 816 S. Walter Reed Dr.

For further information, call the Arlington County Extention Service at 558-2475.