The organizer of Saturday’s 10th annual KidsFest Arts Festival says it all started at a lawnmower race.
Erik Dahlager, who was participating in the Sparta and Wilkesboro races at the time, said drivers would arrive at the tracks in the afternoons with their families, have picnics and work on their lawnmowers. One day, Dahlager said he noticed a lot of bored kids at the track with nothing to do and decided to get them to paint his lawnmower.
“A couple of the drivers noticed how much fun the kids were having and requested that I bring paint so they could paint their mowers the next weekend,” he said. “The kids could paint and go, ‘There’s my whatever I painted on there going by at 50 miles per hour.’
“That’s how it evolved into a kids art festival.”
Dahlager said the festivals through the years have featured island, jungle and pirate themes. The theme for this year’s festival — scheduled Saturday for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Foothills Arts Council garden — is “Art Yourself.”
Art stations to be set up in the garden will be based around famous artists such as Monet and Jackson Pollock. Dahlager said children will be able to see the artists’ styles, the type of paint they used and learn a little history about them.
Other stations scheduled for the event include a “Be Your Own Designer Wearable Art,” sculpting, print-making and “the world’s largest (that we know of) camera obscura.” Kids also will be able to design their own bandanna.
Activities at the event will be geared toward ages 3 to 17.
“KidsFest is a lot of fun because you get to see so many kids enjoying themselves,” Dahlager said, “and they get paint on their hands. Generally, messy hands come with a big smile when kids are involved.”
Dahlager said Rick Cline’s Pandemic Steel Drum Band of Hickory will be back by popular demand. Other attractions include a bouncy water slide and lunch.
Leighanne Martin Wright, executive director of the Foothills Arts Council, said Main Street Market will be providing free lunch for the children. Parents accompanying their children and adults helping with the event will be able to buy food at the event.
Dahlager, who is a retired artist, said he is pleased with how much the festival has grown during the past 10 years. “We’ve had as many as 300 kids,” he said. “I think the first year, we probably had 50 kids. It depends on the year.”
Vacation, sports activities and weather obviously play a factor, he said, even though the festival goes on “rain or shine.”
“I think it’s a great little event,” Dahlager said, “and I’m very thankful to the community and arts council for backing it.”
Sponsors for this year’s KidsFest Arts Festival include Main Street Market, Yadkin County United Fund, Rhythm On Main, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, The StereoShop, Rhythm On Main, Allstar Rentals, Duke Energy and the Foothills Arts Council.
Kathy Chaffin may be reached at 336-258-4058.