Vancouver International Children’s Festival 2009

It’s always fun to go to the Children’s Festival with the kids and see what’s new as well as visit old favourites.  We’ve never attended any of the shows; we simply explored the many tents and activities.  My daughter is now 7 and almost too old for the festival,  however she insisted that she go with her mom.  My one recommendation is that you don’t go on the last day of the festival, because everything is winding down.

This year we arrived around 11 AM at the west gate on the last day of the festival.  The fee for us was $10 each.  The day was overcast but warm enough for shorts and flip-flops.  We headed for the BC Hydro Power Smart tent because it looked like there was some good loot to be found.  There were stationary cardboard “cars” which had pedals hooked up to lights on a board.  The kids were encouraged to pedal and see how many lights they could illuminate with their own bicycle power.  At the end each child received a sticker.  There were two other tables set up in the Power Smart tent, one where the kids could draw their own power saving ideas on the back of a “medal” that they could hang around their necks (reference to 2010 Olympics).  The other table allowed children to create bracelets with beads and pipe cleaners.  Some of the beads were sensitive to ultraviolet light and changed colour when exposed to ultraviolet.  Cool!

We peeked in at the Petro-Canada Totem House.  They had tattoos and bookmarks that the kids could stamp with native totem illustrations.  In the past they had had wet cedar which could be braided or woven into bracelets.  So this tent was not as fun as we had hoped.

The Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Tent had paper birds that could be cut out and then the staff attached straws, making the birds flap.  I think we’ve made those every year since we started going to the festival.  But in the past they offered more than one paper craft.  We also played some ring toss games, none of which we won.  Sigh.

The Origami tent, which wasn’t mentioned in the festival brochure, offered a whole bunch of volunteers helping kids to make various things out of paper.  (Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding.)  We made a ring and a heart.  The children could also make hats, frogs, flowers, a watch and paper decorations.  I personally liked the Origami tent because I spent many hours of my youth making things out of paper.  My seven year old is now at the right age where she can follow instructions and fold paper neatly enough that the finished product looks like what was intended.  Hurray!

Second to last we went to the Make a Kite tent.  Every year that we’ve attended they have had kite making.  The message on the kite is to avoid smoking.  “You and Me Smoke Free” reads the banner on the kite.  Volunteers or the kids can cut out their kite and attach string.  Then there are tables with boxes of crayons.  The children create their own unique work of art.  Vanier Park is probably one of the best places to fly a kite.  Children young and old were out there flying their newly created kites.

In past years, other tents that my daughter really enjoyed were the Make Music tent.  The kids were given bells and sticks, triangles, little drums and so on to make music.  Usually there was a gentleman playing the guitar.  The kids could also line up and sing their favourite nursery rhyme into a microphone.  The sand box is always a popular spot, shaded by a canopy and equipped with plenty of buckets and shovels to go digging.  The Pre-School Pavilion is large and fun, providing a number of games and blocks, cars, dress-up things and equipment to “play house” with.  For kids who are interested in fire trucks there is usually one on site with personnel from Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services to show kids around and demonstrate.  There is also a Learn to Call 911 tent.  Where you can pretend to call 911 and an operator asks the child various questions.  The kids can also tour an ambulance and take home a safety book, stickers and magnets. Although we didn’t visit any of the above, there is plenty at the Vancouver Children’s Festival to keep busy for the day, especially if you are between the ages of 2 and 6.  And I haven’t even touched live performances, stilt walkers and food.

After grabbing a box of popcorn and a cherry snow cone at $3 each (ouch!), it started to rain.  We headed for the face painting tents.  Due to the line up at the “full service”, we decided to paint our own faces at the “self serve” tent.  My daughter wanted a “doll look” and got round pink cheeks and interesting lines over her eyebrows.  She painted a flower on my right cheek and a butterfly on my left cheek, which I proudly wore for the rest of the day.

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