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04-18-12-children\'s-fest\'.jpgSpring is finally in the air, and children are trying to find some outdoor fun for the entire family, The Fort Bragg Child Youth and School Services has

just the answer for you as it presents the 20th Annual Children’s Fest.

The event commemorates the Month of the Military Child and honors military families and their children. “I have watched this event grow over the years from a small event held in a grassy area on Fort Bragg,” said Gudrun Blackmon. Blackmon is the coordinator of the event and has been actively involved in its success and growth since 2001.

The Children’s Fest is now a garrison command event much like the 4th of July Fest and the Fort Bragg Fair. In 1983, April was declared Month of the Military Child by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. The Department of Defense recognized the need for quality child/youth care programs as well as the importance of military children and the unique lifestyle they live. Therefore, installations all over the world take this month to honor military children.

Fort Bragg is very important to Fayetteville and its surrounding areas, so this is a wonderful opportunity to come out and show your support to both the military and their children. Previous year’s attendance at the Fest has been 3,000 – 3,500 and event organizers anticipate the same attendance and participation this year.

Age-appropriate events and activities are scheduled throughout the day. Military static displays will allow children to interact with Soldiers as well as become familiar with equipment their parents work with on a daily basis. Other entertainment and activities include the Kiddie Jump Tower, Toddlerville, a Climbing Wall, a personal appearance by #9 Robot, Pallaber the Clown, various carnival rides and concessions.

Parents will get an opportunity to get involved in their children’s world for a day and experience some of the activities that the children do while attending daycare, school or other local kid events. Doreene Jenkins, CYSS Outreach Director noted, “The biggest thing for me is watching the children come out with their parents. I am so accustomed to seeing the parents dropping the kids off before going off to work. But now the parents are in the kids’ world and that is big for me. The kids get to show the parents how play and just have fun.”

This event is the only time during the year when all nine Child Development Centers, three School Age Services sites and Tolson Youth Center personnel and activities will be together in one place to have a full day of fun and games. There will be additional dimensions added to this event by Fort Bragg and local agencies. The Fort Bragg Fire & Emergency Services will be on site with fire engines, the Throckmorton Library, 4-H, the TUOCS District Boy Scouts of America, Pines of Carolina Girl Scouts, Army Community Services, the Community Health Nurse, Medical Research and Womack Army Medical Center are coming together to help create an amazing time of fun and celebration for the military children in our community. The event would not be as successful as it is without the unselfish support and assistance from the Fort Bragg Special Events Team, the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Marketing Team, and the outstanding sponsors in the Fort Bragg and Fayetteville area.

The event will be held April 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds off Bragg Boulevard and is open to the public. There is an $8 admission fee to enter the fairgrounds but once you are in the gate, that price includes all carnival rides and a chance to win prize drawings all throughout the day. Adults and children less than 36” will be admitted free of charge.

Photo: The #9 robot is always a hit at the Childrens Festival. 

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