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KidFest in Clifton Set for July 30

Get ready for the first annual Northern Virginia KidFest 2005! Featuring professional children's entertainers, music, art, moonbounces, face and hair painting, it's a whole day of fun in Clifton's Town Park.

IT'S SLATED for Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and includes a gift bazaar, raffle and silent auction for adults, plus food and beverages. Entry fee is $5, but all shows and activities are free, as is parking. And proceeds go toward renovating the town playground.

"We're hoping to have 1,000 or more people come," said event chairperson Jacquie Lambertson, owner of Clifton toy store, Noodles & Noggins. "It's a great way to take the family out for the day and have a lot of fun for a good cause."

The Clifton Betterment Association (CBA) is hosting KidFest. Purchase tickets at www.novakidfest.com, at Noodles & Noggins (near the town caboose) or at the event.

Since Lambertson's store focuses on creative and educational toys and games, plus musical instruments, it's become "the hub of these instruments for children's performers in Northern Virginia," she said. "They came to us because they knew we had a good selection of children's instruments, like shaker eggs, maracas and boomwhackers — plastic tubes that play specific notes when you bonk them. You can also put two or three tubes together to make chords and to harmonize."

In the spring, Lambertson and these performers talked about how neat it would be if there were a showcase where they all could entertain together. "But there was no such venue in Northern Virginia — it all seemed to be in Maryland and [Washington], D.C.," she said. "So we all came up with the idea of the Northern Virginia KidFest."

Taking things a step further, Lambertson spoke with Clifton resident Aileen Mitchell — heading fund-raising efforts for the playground — and they realized KidFest would be a great way to help get money for new playground equipment.

"Jacquie came to us with this fund-raising idea," said Trish Robertson, playground-committee chairman. "We're thrilled that she's doing this for us, and it'll be a fun event."

BESIDES moonbounces and face-painting, also planned are an obstacle course, plus 4-foot-high by 16-feet-long mural boards where children may paint whatever they'd like.

Children's performers include singer/songwriter Oh Susannah, alias Susan McNelis, whose children's album won an award; Banjo Man Frank Cassel; Wammie-award winner Eileen Joyner, a singer known to her young fans as EJ; mister don, award-winning children's entertainer and songwriter Don Bridges; Milkshake, singer Lisa Mathews and guitarist Mikel Gehl, whose videos "Happy Songs" and "Fingers & Toes" air on the satellite and cable TV Noggins Network; and an act called Rocknocerus.

In addition, local vendors will offer their wares at the gift bazaar, and a silent auction will be held in the souvenir tent. Participants will vie for items such as a bicycle donated by Washington Bike Center, large toys donated by manufacturers and auto-detailing certificates donated by Farrish Motors.

At a gift bazaar with more than 20 vendors, attendees may purchase honey, soaps, candles, hand-crafted wood furniture, baby accessories, craft and education books and unique jewelry. And county police will offer fingerprinting and bike safety.

Adding to the festivities, costumed "merry pranksters" will sell raffle tickets and make balloon animals. Attendees may also purchase hot dogs, pork-barbecue sandwiches, soda, water and other treats and snacks. (Coolers are not allowed).

"It's an opportunity to experience the best children's music the D.C. Metropolitan area has to offer — all in one place," said Lambertson. "And there'll be a stand selling the performers' music CDs, T-shirts and other merchandise, as well as musical instruments for children. We're going to have a great time."

For more information or to be a vendor or exhibitor, e-mail info@novakidfest.com or write to Northern Virginia KidFest - Gift Bazaar Coordinator, P.O. Box C, Clifton, VA 20124.