Kids splash, paint and play at art fest

A high school steel drum band called Pandemic performs at the Foothills Arts Council’s annual Kidsfest art festival.

Grace Harrison goes flying down a water slide at Kidsfest.

An afternoon of live music, art projects and splishing and splashing down a water slide awaited kids in the garden of the Foothills Arts Council on Saturday.

Kids were splashing, painting, sculpting and celebrating art, all to the sounds of a steel drum band, at the 10th annual Kidsfest held Saturday at the Foothills Arts Council. An art festival just for kids was the brainchild of local artist Erik Dahlager and he said he was proud to see how the event has grown. Dahlager said he hopes it will serve to inspire kids to keep exploring art now and as they get older.

“I think it’s just a fun day for the kids and hopefully they’ll remember this when they become adults and they want to do the same things in their communities,” Dahlager said.

The steel drum band Pandemic, which has performed for several years at the festival, is a band comprised of high school students from Hickory. Dahlager said involving teens and older kids was also an important part of showcasing the many art-based things kids can do and allowed the older kids to serve as role models for the younger ones.

Elkin High School student Anna Taylor said she was having a great time at Kidsfest. She takes art classes in school and was busy working on an abstract painting at one of the booths at the festival.

“I think it’s very fun,” Taylor said of the event.

“I obviously love the band, they’re just rocking,” she added.

Louis Jeroslow, who brought his family to the festival, also raved about the music. He was impressed that it was a high school-based program and said he hoped it would inspire other area schools to try out new and unique art-based programs.

“I’ve been really enjoying the steel drum band. They’re really really great and it’s really exciting to see the kinds of programs available to kids, like that in Hickory,” he said. “And the kinds of things that obviously people are drawn towards here in Elkin and we as a community can grow more into providing opportunities like this [Kidsfest] and like the Family Arts Festival at Elkin Creek and just opportunities for kids to really explore the arts and find themselves and the ways they can express themselves. It creates healthy people.”

Jeroslow also said the whole feel of the festival, the playfulness and joy of watching the kids explore the various art media was exciting.

Arts Council Director Leighanne Martin Wright said it was a great turnout for the event and the weather, though hot, was still nice for the day. Kids were enjoying all of the different art projects from painting to making prints using vegetables and sculpting with clay, Wright said. A new addition to this year’s festival was a water slide, which was a popular attraction and great way to cool off a bit from the heat.

“I like being outside,” said Grace Harrison who was waiting her turn in life for the slide. “And I like the water slide. The water slide is the bestest!”

“It was really fun,” added Amelia Harrison about the water slide. She also enjoyed the snow cones.

It has been a busy time at the arts council with Kidshop theater camp, art camp and guitar lessons going on throughout the day. The arts council building on Church Street tends to be empty during summer days, so having it full of children enjoying all types of art these last few weeks has really been a treat, Wright said.

Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.

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