With a new location and new exhibitors, there is some energy flowing around KidFEST this year, scheduled for 9 to 11 a.m. at Slate Creek Elementary School, 901 E. Fourth St.
The event is tailored for children birth through age eight. Each booth is asked to have an activity for children, and each child can take home an age-appropriate book.
There will be plenty to do for the little ones while adults learn about some of the resources available in the community.
“This year we are up to 35 activities,” said Tina Payne, director of Harvey County United Way and a member of the KidFEST committee. “Last year, we were at 23. That should give you an idea of how much it has grown.”
Activities will include an Easter Egg Hunt by the Newton Young Professionals for children at 11 a.m. Parents as Teachers will bring an inexpensive play idea for children to experience and parents to consider creating at home. The Newton Fire Department will be on hand, as will a photo booth by NYP.
“It is like kids, I hate to pick just a few,” Payne said. “But one that stands out in my mind is the Informed Women of Harvey County and the Harvey County Clerk’s Office are joining up to do a booth about voting. The kids will actually be able to cast a ballot. The clerk’s office is going to bring an actual ballot booth. I don’t even know what they are voting on, I am just so excited. For me, this is helping kids to understand they are a part of this world and that they matter.”
Parents can also get information on how to register to vote.
The photo booth is new this year, and it will be themed as “What do I want to be when I grow up?”
“It will be complete with props,” Payne said. “Kids get to, for one day, get to say ‘hey, I want to be this when I grow up.’ They will receive a photo. It will be sent afterwards to the parents who want it.”
All three of the traditional civic cubs – Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis — will be on hand for the day as well. The Harvey County Sheriff’s Office is among the new booths this year. Also this year, the first 50 kids to attend get a prize.
“The longstanding, popular events will still be there,” Payne said. “The fire department will be there with the smoke tunnel and Newton Community Childcare will have their ‘Plant a Rainbow.’”
The venue is also new — up to now the annual event has been at Sunset Elementary on Broadway. Organizers decided it was time for a change. The change was made, in part, to reach more families who need resources and Spanish-speaking families, according to event organizers.
“We knew we wanted to grow, and we knew that parking was going to be an issue at Sunset,” Payne said. “The staff at Sunset have been amazingly gracious. We hated to move it because it has been there forever, but the parking has always been an issue with splitting it across the street and having families try to get across Broadway with strollers.”