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Thousands of kids come out for arts festival
Thousands of happy kids darted excitedly from one craft station to another to create works of art Saturday, during the 16th Annual Children’s Festival of the Arts on Main Street in historic downtown Yuma from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
More than 30 booths were set up under a beautiful blue sky complete with wispy white clouds, and volunteers from the community eagerly assisted the hordes of youngsters as they got in touch with their creative side.
"It is a fantastic event, and we are proud to see what we think is about eight to 10 thousand people out here today," said Rex Ijams, city of Yuma arts and cultural manager.
"This is much busier than it was last year. It is a phenomenal crowd, and we are really happy. There are more activity booths this year and more people. I'm not sure if it's because of the economy or if they just need something to do on a Saturday afternoon."
Ijams said he loves the art festival.
"I enjoy getting out here and putting these things on, and I have a great time. It is great to see parents, kids and families out here having a good time. We have hands on art activities, face painting, funny hat making, chalk art, ceramics, painting, drawing, sculptures and costume making. There is just a whole slew of art that kids can do and it is all free."
Monica Covarrubias, 22, of Yuma, came with her family to enjoy the free event.
"I am here making crafts with my niece and nephew," Covarrubias said. "It is actually really cool that they are doing this. You can come and make a bunch of stuff and the kids get to do lots of different types of things and get to show their artistic side, and it is all free, so that is awesome."
Covarrubias believes it is important for children to express themselves through art.
"It is important for the kids to be able to do art, especially when they are young so they get to see what they come up with and what is on their mind without having to actually say things. I am having a great time, except for it’s really hot."
Ijams said the event is an important shot in the arm for local arts education.
"It is important because we need to continue the education of arts for students, because as you know, arts education along with youth sports and other youth activities in schools are being cut back. This can bridge the gap for those programs that have been cut. We can provide these kinds of activities and kids can sample art, see what its like, make some art and have a really fun experience. We are trying to make this educational and fun at the same time."
The Yuma Fire Department brought out one of their big shiny red fire trucks for the kids at the event to play with.
"We have engine one from city station #1," said firefighter Gary Welch. "Kids love fire trucks, and they are full of curiosity and want to know what is going on. This allows them to ask questions they never get to ask because usually when we are on scene we are really busy and don't have time to interact with them. This gives us an opportunity to let them do that, play and have a good time. We enjoy it."
Ijams said the city of Yuma is already planning ahead for next year's festival.
"There have been 16 wonderful years of art, and it has become a tradition to come to downtown Yuma. We are going to be back next year and we are going to do everything we can to get more sponsors and create something bigger and better."
For more information about the 2010 event, or to become a sponsor, call Rex Ijams at 373-5202.
Watch video of the event at Yumasun.com.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.