Kids know that sometimes you have to get a little messy to have fun. Just think how blah recess would be if little ones were always trying not to get grit under their nails or a speck of gravel in their hair. Boring! Pull out the play clothes (yours, too) this weekend and embrace a little messiness. Get splashed with water by an acrobat in the H2O-inspired Cirque Italia Aquatic, slip down a giant foam-filled slide in the ROC Race, or touch and crawl into one of the steely helicopters parked outside the National Air and Space Museum. Packing a change of clothes might not be such a bad idea.

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Maryland

Cirque Italia Aquatic
One way to make an international-style family circus cooler is to add water. Which is exactly what this traveling “cirque” does. There’s your standard Olympic acrobats, contortionists, clowns, matadors, jugglers, and trapeze performers; but each act is performed in or around a stage that holds 35,000 gallons of water. Fri. – Sun., various times. Frederick. $9 children/ $18 adults. All ages. Event details.

Howard County Fair
This county fair, which dates back to 1946, has all of the trappings of a fun fair experience for the whole family. Think: apple pie tasting contests, tractor pulls, a “kids and critters” barn, a parade of floats, rides (of course!), and a cow milking contest. What more could one ask for? Sat., 10:30 am. Howard County. $5 adults and kids over 10/ Free for children under 10. All ages. Event details.

D.C.

Meerkats 3D
Get ready for cuteness overload! This film, which was taped over the course of a year, follows a tight-knit family of 20 meerkats through the ups and downs of life in the desert. There’s a tenacious matriarch, rival gangs, and multiple births—sort of like a meerkat soap opera. You and your animal-loving kiddos will be transfixed. Sat., 12:00 pm. Downtown. $7. All agesEvent details.

ROC Race Washington D.C.
There’s more to this 5K fun run than just jogging to the finish line. The course is sprinkled with silly game show-style obstacles, including the “Belly Flop Drop,” the “Wonky Bars,” and the “World’s Largest Bounce House.” Don’t want to participate? Watching the ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Challange) on the sidelines is just as fun…and free! Sat., 8:00 am, 12:00 pm. Capitol Hill. $75. Ages 13 and up. Event details.

Northern Virginia

Super Science Saturdays at the National Air and Space Museum: Helicopters
Real helicopters will be making a special pit stop oustide the Udvar-Hazy Center for this hands-on event. Visitors will be immersed in science, technology, and engineering through heli-demos and other activities. Smaller kids will enjoy getting an up close and personal look at the copters. Sat., 10:00 am – 3:30 pm. Chantilly. Free. All ages. Event details.

Theater for Toddlers: Sneak Preview of ‘Under the Canopy
Theater for babies? Sounds impossible, right? This work-in-progress might make you a believer. The 20-minute interactive performance features tons of props, live music and sound effects that explore the wonders of the rainforest. Since this show is still a work in progress, the creators invite audiences to share their feedback in hopes of improving the show, which officially opens in February 2014. Sun., 10:30 am. Old Town Alexandria. $3. Ages 0 – 4. Event details.

What are you up to this weekend? Tell us below!

—Ayren Jackson-Cannady

Photo courtesy of Cirque Italia via Facebook