Out of this world … and right next door

While Kids Fest has become a tradition for many local families, this year’s event will be a new experience for one of its organizers.

Kate Garrity took over as executive director of Child Care Network in the fall, which was about six months after the annual event sponsored by Child Care Network and the Seymour Noon Lions Club.

She said it has been a good experience helping organize the 19th annual Kids Fest, which is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Seymour High School along Community Drive in Seymour.

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“The thing that I have noticed or experienced the most about Seymour and Jackson County is how the community really comes together to put this event on,” Garrity said. “It has been wonderful.”

Garrity said she was a little worried when she first took the job and heard about Kids Fest being such a big event.

“But there are so many people involved, so many different groups that it just runs itself, pretty much,” she said. “It has helped me develop relationships with community partners and members, so it has just been a great experience. I can’t wait for it to all come together on Saturday.”

The theme for this year’s event is “Space: Blast into Kids Fest.” Students involved in YoJack, a youth leadership program in Jackson County, choose a different theme each year.

Kids Fest started in 1998 from a Leadership Jackson County project and evolved into a local tradition coordinated by Child Care Network.

The purpose of the event is to gather families with young children and inform and link parents/guardians/custodians to children’s services, programs and activities in the area and enhance the well-being and lives of children.

Local students participate in a Kids Fest T-shirt design contest each year based on the theme. Shirts featuring the winning design are sold for $10 at the event, with proceeds going toward the next year’s Kids Fest.

This year’s winner is Ava Blomenberg, while Jada Miller and Haleigh Brott earned honorable mention.

Saturday’s event will feature about 45 booths inside and outside Seymour High School.

A new outdoor activity will give kids an opportunity to help paint a 5-foot-tall fiberglass bison, which is part of the Indiana Bison-tennial Public Art Project that was introduced for this year’s Indiana bicentennial. Jackson County received five bison to have local artists paint, and they will be displayed around the county.

Also outside, the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce agribusiness committee will offer a petting zoo, and Seymour Police Department will conduct a bike rodeo. Pardieck Law Firm has again donated bicycle helmets to give away free to those who complete the course, and Matt Nicholson with B2 Bikes and Boards will teach a bicycle safety class.

Inside the school’s gymnasium, each booth will have its own activity.

“There will be all kinds of hands-on activities that kids can play and things they can take home with them,” Garrity said.

Other indoor features include a model train display and a Mexican folklore dancing demonstration by a Latino 4-H group.

Garrity said the March of Dimes is partnering with Child Care Network by conducting its annual March for Babies that day at the Seymour High School track. The 3.1-mile walk begins at 9:30 a.m., and the event also will feature food, music, games and prizes.

Money raised to support the March of Dimes supports programs and research that help prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

Garrity encourages people to attend Kids Fest and March for Babies because, for one, the weather is supposed to be nice.

“It’s going to be gorgeous weather, so I’m really excited about that, because I hear last year, it was cold and rainy,” she said.

Another plus is both events are free.

“For me, I have four kids, so going to events that cost money adds up really fast, so I think it’s great this can be completely free for families,” she said.

If you go

What: 19th annual Kids Fest, sponsored by Child Care Network and Seymour Noon Lions Club

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Seymour High School campus along Community Drive in Seymour

Features: Games, activities, bike rodeo, petting zoo, model train display and more

Cost: Free; Kids Fest T-shirts will be available to purchase for $10

Information: 812-524-2585

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.