After two decades, organizers of the annual Kids Fest have little to prove when it comes to getting families to come out and enjoy a day full of kid-fun activities at Seymour High School.
This year’s event, held Saturday, drew an estimated 1,500 people. That kind of crowd is common for the event, but didn’t stop those in charge from adding a few more special activities for this Kids Fest.
Those additions included a “Touch a Truck” area where children touch and even get into fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and trucks used by city workers including those who take care of the parks.
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The Caring For Kids Council also passed out pinwheels for children and parents to plant in the grassy area outside of Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium during a ceremony recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Students with Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis also set up an inflatable dome movie theater — another first for the Kids Fest.
IUPUI animation students Tracie Emmons and Sage Walcott ran the ticket booth for the theater, which was so popular the tickets were gone by noon.
“A lot of kids love it,” Emmons said.
“You can occasionally hear the kids ‘oohing and ahhing’ from inside,” Walcott said.
The inflatable black dome seals out all light and short, usually 20 minute, 360 degree videos, are projected onto the top of the dome.
“They’re generally scientific videos, on earth and space,” Emmons said.
Eli Adkins, 6, said the movie theater was probably the thing he was looking forward to doing the most on Saturday.
McKenzie Lucas said the dome was one of her favorites also.
The new activities were put in place part as a way to celebrate Kids Fest’s 20th year.
Finding something to do is never very hard. There were nearly 50 booths this year with activities ranging from dental hygiene to a petting zoo sponsored by the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce’s agribusiness committee to a bike rodeo operated by the officers with Seymour Police Department.
Julie Lemming has attended Kids Fest for several and was there this year with two of her four children.
“It’s a fabulous contribution to the community,” said Lemming, “You can’t go wrong when you help kids gain an awareness of different aspects of life. Ultimately it helps the community as a whole when the children are informed.”
Kate Garrity, executive director of the Child Care Network, said with 20 years of experience, Kids Fest is not hard to set up anymore.
“It kind of puts itself together now,” she said. “Everyone knows what they are suppose to do.”
Child Care Network and Seymour Noon Lions Club are the main sponsors of the event, but nearly 45 local agencies, service organizations and others contribute by setting up booths to provide information about services for children and families available in the area.
Garrity says that is one of the most important parts, both for the adults and the children.
“There is such a wealth of information for the parents, to help connect them with the services they need,” said Garrity.
Contributions come in all forms.
Pardieck Law Firm, for instance, provides helmets each year to children who participate in the bike rodeo, after they take a bike safety class given by the Jackson County 4-H junior leaders.
The bike and tricycle rodeos provided obstacles for riders of different age groups to navigate with the help of an observer teaching traffic and bike safety.
Ivy Tech’s early childhood development program supplied the tricycles, both pedal and walking, for younger children.
Schneck Medical Center and other medical services in the county were present to pass out information and set up games and activities to teach the children while keeping them entertained.
“I think my favorite thing, so far is the germ-light-thing,” Andrew Lemming, 11, said. “I learned more about how to wash my hands correctly.”
Garrity said the ultimate goal of the event in addition to teaching parents was to celebrate childhood and allow for a free event that families could do.
“I feel like all I do sometimes as a mom is run from place to place, I need reminded to stop and have fun as a family,” Garrity said. “Ya, I think it’s important for families to spend quality time together.”
This year’s theme which was chosen by the YoJack youth leadership team, was “I scream, you scream, we all scream for Kids Fest.”