Fun and knowledge found at festival

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The chase family traveled from Baggs, Wyo., Saturday to shop and run some errands. One of those errands took the Chases and their three children to the Centennial Mall where they ended up spending a lot more time then they'd anticipated.

Looking for parts to their cellular phone, the Chases found a plethora of activities for their children, including chalk art, face and nail painting and nutritional education.

Saturday was the fifth-annual children's festival, sponsored by the Early Childhood Coalition -- a group of community members who advocate for children ages birth through eight.

Organizations communitywide sponsored booths at the festival aimed at entertaining children and educating parents.

The Moffat County Extension Office sponsored a "bone" tossing game, which earned children prizes while parents were provided information on nutrition.

Moffat County High School's Key Club provided chalk art, the only outdoor activity.

"It's Celebrate Children Week and the key club just wanted to help the childhood coalition out," club sponsor Cindy Morris said.

Some of the activities were global in their impact. Moffat County Partners designed a large American flag and adults and children signed it, sending their blessings to the troops fighting oversees in the war against Iraq.

"God bless you all," signed Dusty Webb in a message from her family.

"It's a good community service project and it gets kids

involved," said Shirley Balleck with Partners.

She said a friend of hers has two boys in the military and she wanted to do something for them.

The Moffat County Sheriff's Department was on hand to enroll children in the Kid Care program, which creates a file of a child's most recent picture and their fingerprints -- information which aides in the search should a child be lost or kidnapped.

Drew King, 4, hammed it up for his Kid Care picture, but said on the side that his favorite activity was the fishing booth.

Children decorated paper opera glasses using beads, stickers, construction paper and glitter at a booth sponsored by the Moffat County Early Childhood Center and run by the center's director and Early childhood Coalition member Sarah Hepworth.

"This is an opportunity for young children to participate in activities because there aren't a lot of things for them to do," she said.

Hepworth said last year it was estimated 300 people participated in the festival, but she expect this year's numbers to be lower, mainly because a change in the date it is usually held may have thrown some parents off.

"It's really hard to get a count," she said.

The festival is usually held following the Craig Lions Club Easter egg hunt, which is the Saturday preceding Easter.

Craig preschools, Advocates-Crisis Support Services and the Visiting Nurse Association all provided activities. Members of the Colorado Northwestern Community College-Craig cosmetology program painted fingernails, and Colorado State Patrol troopers brought the "Convincer," a small machine that simulates a stop in which a vehicle stop in which the airbag deploys, aimed at convincing youth to wear their seatbelts.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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