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Second Annual KidFest Is June 24 in Clifton

Children's entertainers, crafts, activities, food and fun.

Two stages of singing and instrument-playing children's entertainers, arts and crafts, moonbounces, a place to build your own stuffed animal, carnival-type games and fun galore. All this and more is in store at the second annual Northern Virginia KidFest.

It will be held Saturday, June 24, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Clifton Town Park. (After parking on the flood plain off Main Street, walk past the Clifton Store and turn right on Chapel Street).

"THIS IS the only festival of its kind in the Northern Virginia area," said organizer Jacquie Lambertson, owner of the Clifton toy store, Noodles & Noggins. "It's really fun to bring all the children's performers together so children and parents can enjoy them all in one place."

Admission is $5, and the event is a combination of lots of free things, plus activities costing $1 each. However, each child will receive a certain number of activity tickets with his or her admission. Strollers are welcome, but not dogs, coolers or alcohol. For more information, see www.novakidfest.com or call 703-815-8600.

Some 1,200 people attended last year's event but, this time, Lambertson expects more than 4,000 to flock to Clifton from the Washington Metropolitan area because "we had more time to get the word out, especially to schools."

The Clifton Betterment Association (CBA) is hosting the event, and proceeds benefit the town's playground fund. It's also in honor of Clifton resident Bryce Anderson who died recently of leukemia at age 2.

The town park is undergoing a major renovation and will be named after him upon its completion. To learn more about Bryce and how to help other children with cancer, see www.bryceanderson.com.

The musical entertainment will alternate between the showmobile stage and the court stage — near the basketball court and closer to the ground so performers may more easily interact with the children in the audience.

Entertaining on the showmobile stage will be Robbie Schaefer, Oh Susannah, Mr. Knick Knack, Rocknoceros, Peter McCory the One-Man Band, and Rick & Audrey. On the court stage will be Banjo Man, EJ, mister don and Kathy & Tom. A total of 10 different acts will perform, and each is comprised of professional children's singers, songwriters and musicians.

FOR EXAMPLE, Oh Susannah (Susan McNelis) won an iParenting Media Award in the children's audio category and McCory's recordings of his own original songs won two Parents' Choice Awards. And mister don won the Children's Vocalist Wammie Award, the past two years, and was described as a "one-man Wiggles act."

Lambertson says each entertainer is wonderful. "Mr. Knick Knack plays original children's songs with a rock-and-roll bent," she said. "And Peter McCory uses kazoos, whistles, drums, cymbals and cowbells, combining children's music and folk music with a lively beat."

Each act will perform for 45 minutes. Tentative schedules are as follows:

Showmobile stage: 9 a.m., Rocknoceros; 10 a.m., Peter McCory; 11 a.m., Oh Susannah; noon, Robbie Schaefer; 1 p.m., Mr. Knick Knack; 2 p.m., Rick & Audrey.

Court stage: 9:30-10 a.m., puppet show; 10:30 a.m., mister don; 11:30 a.m., Banjo Man; 12:30 p.m., Kathy & Tom; 1:30 p.m., EJ. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department's Life Safety Education section is putting on the puppet show.

There'll also be two or three moonbounces — some including an obstacle course, plus a booth where children may get temporary tattoos. And at the arts-and-crafts tent, children will be able to do beading, make kites and pipecleaner creatures, and build fanciful objects out of Zoobs — plastic, ball-and-socket, construction pieces.

"A teddy-bear designer, Bev White, will be here from Pennsylvania to do a build-your-own stuffed animal event," said Lambertson. "Kids may pick which furry friends they want to create, give them a special heart and stuff them with love. They can also decorate a shirt for their animal with a KidFest logo and other items such as beads and sparkly things."

The choice of which stuffed animal to make may be made in advance by pre-ordering the kits online at the KidFest Web site. For those doing so, the special shirt will be free. But plenty of stuffed animals will still be available on the day of the event, regardless.

Also planned is a "graffiti wall" where, said Lambertson, "Kids can make their creative marks on the show. They'll be able to paint a big mural."

AT A BAZAAR of more than two dozen booths, people will sell a variety of products for parents, as well as children, such as Mary Kay cosmetics, handcrafted jewelry, educational toys from Noodles & Noggins, Pampered Chef items, Usborne Books and Discovery Toys. "There'll also be a souvenir T-shirt stand," said Lambertson. "And music CDs of all the performing artists will be available for sale."

Also at the bazaar will be booths providing information about various things people may do with their families. Among them will be the iplay Children's Museum of Northern Virginia, which will have an interactive activities area for children that's similar to a mini, hands-on museum. Pump it Up, a party facility in Manassas, will bring carnival-type games for children to play, and the Reston Ballet Conservatory will offer information about ballet classes and sell items such as tutus and tights.

There'll be a Safety Village where children may climb up onto real fire engines and ambulances and see a police cruiser close up. The county Police Department will also fingerprint children for free.

Parents may also try their luck at a silent auction. Most of the major toy manufacturers, plus local merchants, have donated items for the auction. So people will be able to bid on items ranging from jewelry to skateboards to gift certificates for restaurant dinners.

Food and beverages will also be available. Already signed up for KidFest are Baja Fresh, Great Harvest Bread Co. (cookies), the Clifton Lions Club (hot dogs and hamburgers) and Red, Hot & Blue.

Rain date (gasp!) is the next day, Sunday, June 25. But since Lambertson and her committee of about a dozen people have been working on KidFest since January, they're crossing their fingers for plenty of sun.