By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Saturday will be a time to celebrate children in Yukon.
For the 23rd year, the first Saturday in May will feature Yukon’s epic “Festival of the Child.”
A wide range of family-friendly activities will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Yukon City Park.
“It’s going to be a fun day,” Yukon Parks & Recreation special events supervisor Shawn Steggles said. “This is the 23rd annual, so it’s been going on a long time.
“This is definitely one of the special events that Yukon is known for. It’s definitely a staple in the community.”
Saturday’s Festival of the Child will feature live entertainment, games and various hands-on activities to celebrate children. Some new attractions are sure to entice local youth.
“We’re going to have a kids’ zip-line going at the festival,” Steggles said. “We’re going to have street hockey on the tennis courts and we’re going to have fly-casting for kids. We’ll have a ninja/monkey bar course – that’s something new – by the sand volleyball court.”
Another new event is slip-and-slide bowling. This will feature a giant slip-and-slide set with bowling pins at the end that kids can slide into and try to get a “strike.”
“We’re always looking to add new activities that kids don’t get to do every day,” Steggles added. “That’s why I think kayaking is such a big hit. Not every kid gets a chance to go kayaking.”
New performers to debut at the 2019 Festival of the Child include the School of Rock House Band, the ASL Club by Gwen, singer Chloe Davis and country singer Autumn Geiger.
Between performances, the stage will be open for children to come up and dance, sing and play the air guitar.
There will be more than 50 areas for children to enjoy – from kayaking, pony rides and laser tag to wood art, storytelling and crafts.
“We’re expecting 2,000 to 3,000 people, depending on the weather,” Yukon Parks & Recreation director Jan Scott said.
“There’ll be lots of fun for the kids!”
Dozens of businesses, organizations and churches help the parks and recreation department by presenting activities for the youth on festival day.
All of Yukon City Park will be buzzing this Saturday for the Festival of the Child.
Discounted admission bracelets ($5 each) are on sale through Friday at the Yukon Community Center, Dale Robertson Center, Jackie Cooper Gym, Children’s New World, and YNB-Your Neighborhood Bank. Child admission is $7 on Saturday; adult admission is free.
IT ALL STARTED WITH JOANNE
Yukon’s Festival of the Child started 23 years ago through the efforts of longtime Yukon Parks & Recreation employee Joanne Oltmanns.
“Joanne had wanted to do a children’s festival really bad,” Scott said. “She went and visited the children’s festival in Edmond; they had a big one at the time.”
Oltmanns presented her idea to Yukon City Manager Jim Crosby and the parks and rec director at the time. They gave the OK and a new festival to celebrate youth was born.
“Joanne is the main reason we have this festival today,” Scott said. “And she’s stayed involved the whole time.”
The festival has evolved over the past 23 years.
“It’s always the first Saturday in May,” Scott said. “It’s grown. It was more artsy-craftsy, and then we added the kayaking and the archery. So it’s turned into quite a big event.”