By Mike LaBella
---- — This year’s KidsFEST will feature a variety of activities for people of all ages. Various local organizations are taking part in the event, which will be held May 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kimball Farm, 791 East Broadway.
The Haverhill YMCA will have a bouncy house and will offer potato sack races, kids fun run, water balloon toss, face painting and more.
Little Sprouts will engage children with flower planting and a kiddie pool filled with bubble solution that children can dip jumbo-sized bubble making wands into. Pentucket Lake Elementary School will be offering word games and math games to challenge little minds.
Children can have their face painted, courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill, which will also be offering a Hula Hoop activity, a photo opportunity with a staff member’s Orange Crush Monster Jeep, and a raffle for a week at Camp Tasker.
Clean River Project of Methuen will have one of its pontoon boats on display on land, and kids can climb aboard. Clean River will also have its Ghostbusters car along with two volunteers dressed in Ghostbuster outfits and children can have their picture taken. Kids can also meet the Haverhill Rotary Club’s mascot and have their picture taken.
Rocky Morrison, president of Clean River Project, will be on hand with some of his volunteers to discuss the importance of protecting the environment, and especially the Merrimack River and his nonprofit organization’s continuing efforts to make it cleaner by removing accumulated junk and trash as well as efforts to clean our parks and paths along the river.
“We want to teach children early on about the importance of taking care of our environment, including our waterways,” Morrison said. “An event such as KidsFEST is an opportunity to reach a lot of children and adults at one time. We’ll also be recruiting volunteers to help with our cleanups.”
Short helicopter rides from Haverhill to Newburyport and back will be available for a fee. Maximum of three passengers. Children 10 and older do not need to be accompanied by a parent.
Kids can climb into and ambulance and learn about the work that EMTs do. Several or more antique fire trucks will be on display as well.
Semi-professional wrestlers will be performing throughout the day and will be doing meet and greets with the crowd.
Jennifer Arndt, the arts and culture coordinator for Creative Haverhill, will have a large mural of Haverhill-specific items that KidsFEST goers can color in at her booth. Each piece that a child colors will be added to the mural to create a finished product, similar to piecing together a puzzle made of pieces that will be individually colored.
Kimball Farm will have a petting zoo for kids, while the International Child Care Center will have parachutes, bubbles, and Hula Hoops.
Children are invited to bring their favorite teddy bear and/or doll for a health checkup hosted by Merrimack Valley Hospital and Holy Family Hospital. This is an initiative the hospitals started to help kids learn about health care and to ease any fears about getting treated at the hospital or at a doctor’s office.
The Haverhill Firefighting Museum wants children to learn how fires were put out centuries ago by inviting them to participate in a bucket brigade.
HC Media will have an Old MacDonald green screen/video booth. Children can stand in front of a green screen and see themselves on a TV monitor with a cartoon of “Old MacDonald” playing behind them, like a weatherman standing in front of a weather map.
“We did something similar at last year’s KidsFEST, only the video was ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” said Matt Belfiore, director of operations for HC Media. “We changed to ‘Old MacDonald’ to match the theme of this year’s event.”
What kid doesn’t like to bang a drum? Tony Fonseca of All Hands Drumming will bring 20 drums in different sizes for interactive drum circles for all ages. He calls it a “family fun drum circle” that will also include musical bells, blocks and shakers.
“We’ll go fast, we’ll go slow, we’ll go complicated and we’ll go simple,” Fonseca said, noting that each drum session’s rhythms will be tailored to the age group involved.