AVON — Dubbed as “a celebration of the children and families of Hendricks County,” the annual Kids’ Fair will this year be from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Avon High School gymnasium.
The event has been a community mainstay since 2007. It was held at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds in Danville until this year. The Kids’ Fair will have about 50 vendors, free food, entertainment, and activities geared specifically toward children, who are encouraged to show up wearing their Halloween costumes. The event, as always, will feature costume contests, but this year there is a heightened focus on family-based activities.
The Children’s Bureau, which spearheads the event, will also have a food drive. They are asking patrons to bring non-perishable food items that will go to Hendricks County families in need.
“We’re taking the focus back to the booths and we really want all of them to do something active,” explained Mark Fairchild, program director for the Children’s Bureau. “We’re promoting them as people who are positive community entities. We’ve had many people come through the last few years, but we found they were spending less time. Part of the reason we do this is so there’s meaningful involvement with parents and kids together and taking part in activities and learning about the community organizations.”
The Kids’ Fair also provides families with an opportunity to involve younger children who might not be participating in traditional trick or treating, as well as families who might not have the schedule to allow them such.
Jennifer Hill of the Hendricks County Health Department said, “I remember when my son was born, he was only 4 months old around Halloween time, and you want him to be able to be a part of
something, so I got to dress him up in his cow costume and have fun. It gives parents who might work on Halloween the opportunity to do something with their kids. Or maybe they don’t believe in going out at night, so we still stick with a trick or treat concept. Plus, it’s indoors whereas on Halloween it might be freezing outside. You’ll see a lot of little ones dressed up, and it’s a lot of fun for them.”
Trick or treating is not the sole activity of the fair though. This year, local school mascots will be taking part in a mascot challenge. In addition, there will be free hot dogs, popcorn, drinks, and cotton candy.
Ashley Eads of the Children’s Bureau said there will be something for everyone.
“We’ll also have a deejay, costume contests which will be really fun, a magician, and several groups from Avon doing kid activities, such as the Avon Aerial Orioles,” she said.
Fairchild said the Kids’ Fair has evolved from smaller roots to an event that typically will generate anywhere from between 2,500 to 3,000 attendees. He said he’s seen it grow in part because of the
unique, free opportunity for parents and children to get involved not only together, but on a more broad, community level.
“The Kids’ Fair actually started 12 years ago,” he said. “It was set up through a couple of smaller programs, and it was set up more as something for families that were involved directly in those programs. It was meant to be a fall activity for those families to get together and have a good time. They’d have a few hundred, but it was focused more on just targeting at-risk families. About five years ago when it as presented to us, we were asked to basically head it up a little more. We agreed, and we put together more of a community focus on it, spread it out to get booths from organizations so families could come in and get a break for part of the day, and maybe get
information about some of the community organizations that were out there.
“We ended up having a turnout of over 1,000 people without adding a whole lot, and we’ve just continued growing, adapting, and trying to make it more community-focused as we go. We’ve also decided to reinvent it and have more activities and getting back to the roots of making it a family fun day. We don’t let it get commercial, so people won’t need to worry that there will be direct selling or anything like that going on there.”
Prevent Child Abuse of Hendricks County is one of the agencies involved. That agency wants to stress that this is not only is a chance for families to interact and have fun, but also to help those who are less fortunate through the food drive.
“We usually have a good chunk to take to the food banks so families feel like they’re contributing,” Hill said. “It should make them feel like they’re giving back to the community because this is something that we’re putting on for their families, and they in turn can help others.”
Fairchild added, “We have people from the food pantry coalition that can get that kick back. They had been talking about struggling, and last year throughout the weekend we were able to pack up a box that totaled 500 to 600 items and it helped them get through. It’s not something we require to attend, but it’s a nice little bonus.”
There will also be a coat drive.
“Usually around 100 to 200 coats are collected to give to people,” he said. “These are the ancillary pieces we’ve added that fit nicely with the event. We’ve got a little bigger space for some of the stuff, and one thing that’s great is that this is a really central location.”