Thousands throng to Vacaville Kid Fest

As reported in The Vacaville Reporter on October 6, 2013 by Richard Bammer
Among a group looking like little princesses from Danc-Sing Stars Studio, Olivia Chaburg, 5, Paulina Sweeney, 6, and Lillian Thienpheth, 7, stood patiently near the CreekWalk stage Saturday in Andrews Park, waiting for their turn to entertain several hundred people.
Jessica Johnson, an instructor at Fairfield dance center, cued the girls, then up the nearby steps they went in their white dance outfits, smiling broadly, just before the recorded music blared through the speakers. Oh, the early reviews? Based on the reactions from beaming parents, relatives and friends: four stars.
Their performance was just one of dozens during the 2013 Kid Fest, the annual free-admission event that, since its formation in 1999, focuses on safety and¬†health for the young — and young at heart — in a fun setting.
As they have in years past, several dozen vendors, many under colorful pop-up tents, and representatives from Vacaville and Solano County public safety agencies filled the sloping park between East Monte Vista Avenue and Main Street, ready for the day’s crowds that, by 1 p.m., had reached 3,000, said Shauna Manina, the festival founder and special-events coordinator at The Reporter, a major event sponsor along with NorthBay Healthcare.
“We’ve really had a great crowd,” she said, standing next to the stage, shaded by sycamore and redwood trees next to Ulatis Creek.
She and her fellow fest coordinators, Gretchen Ash, a crime prevention officer with the Vacaville Police Department, and Jill Childers, a Vacaville Fire Department employee, arrived at 6 a.m. to “unload the vehicle and the coffee,” said Manina.
The latter, she quipped, is one of the major drivers of the five-hour event, the 14th, this year themed “For the Child in All of Us.” The other two drivers, Manina said, smiling, are “patience and perseverance.” The festival started with the notion of a festival strictly for children, she said.
As fun as the fest is, it also serves a practical purpose. It is a way for people to learn about the many services and resources available to families in Vacaville. There was also a chance for parents to participate in free digital child identification programs.
The fest’s reputation has long preceded its annual early October date; hence, an explanation for families countywide and beyond traveling to the park on a predictable mild, windless and sunny day with afternoon temperatures in the low 80s.
“It’s been really smooth,” Ash said of the event. “We were worried about the wind yesterday, but it’s really been nice.”
The quality of the event did not seem to concern Tea Novello, 8, and Osaguina Sorae, 5. They were too busy decorating rocks at the Optimist Club of Vacaville tent. The girls added rhinestones, googlie eyes, stickers and printed words to their stones donated by Sun-Ray Landscape Supply in Fairfield.
Nearby, Ashley Ede, 5, of Vacaville, a Girl Scout (at the Daisy level) held a sign noting that volunteers are needed for the Girls Scouts of Northern California organization. She especially liked the young dancers on the stage, said her father, Peter Ede.
Whooping, hollering and otherwise trying to wear himself out, Kyle Hulburt, 10, clambered up and slid down an inflatable slide, courtesy of Solano Jumps, which provided a series of bounces houses and other inflatable attractions.
From the Vacaville Police Department, Sgt. Vince Nadasdy and Officer Ryan Smith staff a hulking armored vehicle at the top of the park. It was, understandably, a popular attraction.