Group planning children’s festival

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A new non-profit organization in Airdrie is hard at work preparing an event to celebrate cultural differences and enrich the lives of children – Airdrie Children’s Festival Society (ACFS) will be hosting its inaugural event May 26.

“The concept itself is something that got started a little more than a year ago, when I was desiring to see something for young people in the community that combined learning with fun,” said Pete Lewis, chair of the ACFS. “I wanted to see something that would create a curiosity with kids to make them want to learn more and do more.”

Lewis got to work recruiting other engaged local residents who were equally passionate about enhancing the community, and the idea for the children’s festival grew from there. The group started looking at festivals hosted in communities like Calgary, Edmonton, Whistler, Winnipeg and Ottawa, and planning how an event like that could happen in Airdrie.

“We just saw a hole in the community, so to speak, and decided we wanted to do something about it,” Lewis said. “There’s lots of opportunities for fun, and lots of opportunities for structure and learning, and I think this gives us a chance to bring it all together in a unique way.”

ACFS’ first children’s festival is planned for May 26 at Nose Creek Park, and while Lewis said performers and activities are still being finalized, there will be plenty for kids of all ages to do and see. The event will include a Children’s Village play area, live entertainment and inspiration stations to provide kids with learning activities that will introduce them to future career paths.

“Long and McQuade are coming out to do an instrument petting zoo, where kids can try different things, and there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for active participation,” Lewis said. “We’re also looking at ways to create a kind of passport that will give kids ideas on how they can try these activities at home.”

The event will be offered free of charge, thanks to the support of the local business community. Youth can participate in free workshops to learn skills like cooking, pottery, drawing, computer coding and story writing, located throughout the city.

“We want it to be inclusive for every kid that comes – there shouldn’t be any reason why a child can’t take part,” Lewis said. “One of our mandates is to make this accessible for everyone.”

For now, the festival is scheduled for just one day, but Lewis said plans are in place to expand the event each year. Eventually, he said he hopes to organize a five-day children’s festival that will attract kids and families from across Alberta and beyond.

“This creates an opportunity for Airdrie to have a destination event where people from regional places will plan to come out for, hopefully within four or five years,” Lewis said. “It’s going to be a really fantastic day with something for everyone.”

More information about the festival will be made available as details are confirmed, Lewis said.

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