The 25th Annual “Children’s Fest”: Bigger And Better Than Ever!
By Rebecca Wright, Jim Murphy and Julianna Bonnett
Since its inception in 1995, more than 80,000 visitors have attended the annual Children’s Fest with people coming from all over the region to enjoy the weekend-long schedule of activities and family entertainment.
With countless activities — such as bouncy castles, mini putt, pony rides, face painting and more — this event truly has something for everyone but is designed for those 12 years of age and under.
The event started out as a project of the Rotary Club of Windsor (1918), but in 2014, the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA) joined the Rotary as co-hosts of the event.
Patrick Kelly, Event Chair, and also Communications and Office Administrator for BANA, says with “Children’s Fest” marking its 25th anniversary in 2019, the event is sure to be bigger and better than ever!
“Over 5,000 paid people came through the doors last year, not counting kids under the age of two, vendors and acts — which brings our numbers in attendance to over 6,000 people,” Kelly reports. “We’re hoping for attendance of 8,000+ people this year and an amazing opportunity for families to have an incredible weekend.”
This year the event takes place on September 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Held at Central Park Athletics, entry fees are $5 per person (one fee for both days), but children under two years old can attend at no charge.
“It’s been 25 years of putting smiles on the faces of children,” Kelly proudly states. “It’s all about good family fun chocked full of entertainment, education, excitement, food and friendship, and it all supports two great local charities.”Proceeds from the event go to the community health and education projects of both the Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) and BANA.
There are several new highlights at the event this year including: Central Park Athletics offering demonstrations of their new Clip ’n Climb rock climbing area; gymnasts from Winstars Gymnastics jumping and flipping; and the Rose City Riot ParaSports Wheelchair Basketball team is on site in the YMCA gym.
“We are also featuring an ‘Artisan Alley’ for the first time for local craft/gourmet food vendors in the area adjacent to the main field show space,” adds Kelly. “This area is fully accessible during the event.”
A full line-up of entertainment on both days also features: Aaron Zimmer and Briar Jansons, the Adventure Bay Mascot, Border City Barkers, Clarol The Clown, Classic India Dancers, Copeland’s Karate, D & D Mascots, Domovina’s Slovack Dancers, Emerald Isle Dance Society, Evermore Princess Parties, Filipino Folk Dancers, Honorable Ninjas, Krisalyn Bell, Leave Those Kids Alone Band, Nancy Pattison’s Dance World, The Qipao Group of The Essex County Chinese Canadian Association, The Dance Company of Academie Ste. Cecile, Tim Hole, University of Windsor Physics Club, WCCA Jazz Ensemble, Windsor Express, Windsor Fire and Rescue Services.
“Every year we add more vendors, entertainers and community agencies,” notes Kelly. “We’ve had countless opportunities to partner with hundreds of amazing sponsors, vendors and community groups.”
Always held during the third weekend of September, Kelly explains that the event moved indoors in 2017 “after 22 years of unpredictable fall weather.”
He believes, “Central Park Athletics is a truly unique facility in the community and this event opens their doors to people that might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit the complex and their many amenities.”
In Kelly’s opinion, the annual Children’s Fest has survived for so many years due to three main things — accessibility, affordability and stability.
“We’ve always taken pride in being an event that everyone can get to,” Kelly declares. “‘Children’s Fest’ is a cost-effective family event, and once inside, bouncy castles, pony rides and all the activities and exhibits are free. As well, the stability of 101 years (Rotary) and 36 years (BANA) in the community give us strong roots to stand on.”
For the latest updates and to learn more about the festival, vendors and sponsors log on here.
But first, continue reading here for details on some of this year’s awesome vendors with a list of all exhibitors can be found at the end of this feature story!