This week marked the end of another year of Family Time Fun at Newton Public Library, with librarian Amy Bayes noting it was another rousing success and she was pleased with the program overall.
"It was a great year. We had lots of fun," Bayes said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Happy Faces Entertainment gave the final performance of the summer, and there were a lot of, well, happy faces among the crowd gathered at NPL as those in attendance took part in some interactive, improvisational storytelling.
Dennis Porter, of the Kansas City-based entertainment company, guided audience members as they helped build stories that were shared at Family Time Fun. First, Porter and the crowd used selected words featured in the book, "The Boy Who Loved Words," to create a unique short story.
From there, Porter presented a Mad Libs story with a basic framework that was fleshed out with suggestions from the audience throughout, while he and the crowd also created an entirely original story for which audience members created the general structure while attendees' input prior to the show was also used to enhance the action.
Like so many of the events of Family Time Fun, Bayes said it was a good opportunity to appeal to kids of all ages, engage them in learning activities centered around reading and offer alternatives for summer entertainment.
"It's fun entertainment. It's quality entertainment," Bayes said. "It's just a win-win. It's good for everybody."
Happy Faces Entertainment also offered something for the older crowd, leading a murder mystery Wednesday evening for kids in sixth through 12th grades.
A total of 1,600 children are enrolled in the summer reading program and Bayes noted there are usually no less than 130 people on hand for Family Time Fun over the course of the eight-week summer program, which featured some new acts (i.e. Stone Lion Puppet Theatre) this year.
Bayes noted there is a balance in bringing in new acts while also keeping favorites (like The Bug Lady) on the schedule, but she said she will continue to search for engaging performers to feature at Family Time Fun — entering its 23rd year next summer — as the goals for the program remain the same.
"We'll just try to keep providing good entertainment for the kids to come and have fun," Bayes said.