‘A picture-perfect day’

By Keith Strange

May 4, 2014

The sound of laughter filled the air as hundreds of county children turned out for this year’s fifth annual Kidsfest Saturday.

The event, held at Riverside Park in Mount Airy, has become a favorite, with more than 200 children turning out last year despite cold and windy conditions.

“This year we’re expecting way over that,” said co-organizer Bradley Key, wellness director for Reeves Community Center. Fonda Mooney, family services director for Mount Airy Parks and Recreation worked with Key to put on the event, which featured nearly two dozen businesses and agencies.

Key said the goal of the event is simple.

“These days so many kids are spending hours and hours sitting inside watching television or playing video games,” he said. “We wanted to offer an event where the community can come out and enjoy a family-friendly day without electronics.”

He looked over at children squealing as they slid down an inflatable slide.

“This is a chance to remind kids that being outdoors can actually be fun,” he said.

The event featured activities ranging from fishing in the Ararat River, which was stocked by members of Trout Unlimited, to a climbing wall to cornhole.

“We wanted to offer something that appealed to all age groups,” Key said.

For the first time, multiple Boy Scout troops turned out for the event, using their skills to turn a vacant field into a makeshift campsite complete with wood structures lashed together.

The Surry County Sheriff’s Office and Mount Airy Police Department were also among the agencies with a presence at Kidsfest, offering pedal cars, a bicycle rodeo where attendees could receive a bike helmet, child identification kits and the collection of unwanted prescription medications as part of Project Lazarus.

For attendee Brandon Wilson, who brought his son Layden, 8, to the event, the day was a chance to spend time together and enjoy the outdoors.

“His brother’s in the Boy Scouts, and we thought this would be a good chance to get out and enjoy the day,” he said. “Besides, you couldn’t have picked a more picture-perfect day.”

With that, he was off, with his son by his side.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.