Imagination rules at Children’s Festival |

Imagination rules at Children’s Festival

Two thousand children and adults are expected to enjoy The Children’s Festival this year at Pioneer Park. Jugglers, face painters, fencers, minstrels, magicians – even the king and queen – will prance, dance and parade around, all dressed in their Sunday best, their Renaissance fair regalia. Arts and crafts tables will abound – 20 of them – at which kids will make their own costumes, swords, shields and magic wands or carve something out of soapstone.

The ultimate creation -the castle – is constructed of cardboard and stands unadorned in a sunny spot in the park. Each child is given his or her own paintbrush and paint, and all the adults stand back as these budding Van Goghs slather on bright colors.

“It’s a good thing we have a five-hour break between the morning and evening sessions,” says volunteer Roseanne Burke, “because castle painting is so popular that by the end of the morning session, it is so saturated with paint that it can barely stand up. But it dries out over the break, and the painting begins again at five o’clock in the evening. It’s popular with children of all ages – the older children paint elaborate graffiti-like images, while the younger children seem happy just to be painting – and probably get more paint on themselves than on the castle!”

The Children’s Festival has a long history. Founded in 1971 by Pat Cobler and Ilse Barnhart, the festival continued as an annual summer event for 19 years. It was revived in 2003, after a lapse of 13 years, as a memorial tribute to Barnhart. An all-volunteer endeavor involving 200 people, the day gives children of all ages a chance to enjoy low-tech fun where imagination, not automation, rules the day.

The event is divided into two sessions, morning and evening, so that working parents have a chance to come. Indeed, some parents once attended the festival as youngsters themselves.

The Soroptimists of the Sierra Foothills will sell food and beverages. Nevada City Rotary Club sponsors the event with many local businesses helping out. For planning purposes, the festival will be held on the third Friday in July in the future.


WHAT: The Children’s Festival

WHEN: Friday, July 20; two sessions: 9 a.m. to noon and 5 to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Pioneer Park, Nevada City. (Take the Broad Street off ramp and follow the signs to the park.)

ADMISSION: Each session is $2 per person.

INFORMATION: Call Gayle Martin at (530) 265-2165.


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