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Different kind of fest offers kid-friendly Halloween atmosphere

While rowdy students might dominate Uptown during the block party, one event is reserved just for kids.

Saturday, the Dairy Barn Arts Center, 8000 Dairy Lane, will present Pumpkin Fest 2012, a Halloween event for children and their families.

The program, which has supplemented the Halloween festivities in Athens for more than seven years, has taken many forms, said Lyn Smith, education director for the Dairy Barn Arts Center. Some years have been full of music and dancing, with others more centered on crafts.

This year, the event features several different stations and activities. The main feature is pumpkin decorating, Smith said. For older children, there will be typical stencils and knives to carve the pumpkins. Paints and craft supplies will be provided for younger children.

“We’re going to have a ton of different things to use to carve the pumpkins and decorate them, and it’s just going to be one big, fun, crafty mess,” she said.

One feature of the event that has changed this year is the pumpkins. In years prior, those who attended the event needed to bring pre-scooped pumpkins. This year, pumpkins will be sold on site to those who need them, and “goop and scoop” stations will be set up, Smith said.

The change goes hand-in-hand with some of the other stations at the event, including the Rural Action stand headed by Erin Sykes, administrative assistant with the Zero Waste Initiative.

Sykes will be giving out cards to show families how to make a zero-waste pumpkin and how to use the “guts” to make bread. For families that might not want to take their pumpkin home, Sykes will be creating a pumpkin compost pile.

“It’s important to teach children about composting because a lot of times children are excited about trying new things and can be the catalyst to introduce composting into their families,” Sykes said.

Another booth at the event is Integrating Professionals for Appalachian Children and Project LAUNCH that will present an overview of their family services.

“Project LAUNCH focuses on improving the systems that serve young children and addressing their physical, emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral growth,” said Dawn Graham,  Young Child Wellness Council coordinator with Project LAUNCH.

The fest will also feature games, crafts, healthy snacks and free children’s T-shirts. The event is a change from the atmosphere of the block party, Smith said, who added he hopes it will be a child-friendly alternative.

“Uptown can be a dangerous place for children during Halloween,” Smith said. “The arts center has plenty of parking, is away from the action, is in such a beautiful setting and the event is such a friendly atmosphere for kids and a great place to meet new people.”


What: Pumpkin Fest 2012

When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday 

Where: Dairy Barn Arts Center, 8000 Dairy Lane

Admission: Free

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