|Children’s Fest wins against wind|
by Jacob Lane · October 09, 2013
As the wind blew, the crowds grew during the 17th Annual Children's Festival in downtown West Liberty. Even though the rain eventually cleared the streets, puppet performances continued indoors.
"I thought it went great, in spite of the weather," said event organizer and owner of the Eulenspiegel Puppet Theater Company Monica Leo. "I was thrilled by the number of people who showed up."
The streets began to fill with children around 10 a.m. Dozens of booths fought the wind, boasting a variety of kids' activities ranging from sand sculptures, legos, fishing for prizes, face-painting, puppet-making and food.
There was a bean bag toss by the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, cotton candy from West Liberty State Bank, free books from Friends of the Public Library, dance performances by Nicole Rock's School of Dance and West Liberty Dance Center, a tractor pull by the WL Lion's Club and a plethora of street performers.
Basically, for those few hours Third Street was Neverland, filled with the flight of children as they jumped from one booth to another.
"I love it," said Eliza Dervo, only five-and-a-half years old. She zipped around like Tinker Bell, ignoring the oncoming darkness in the skies.
One booth, sponsored by the group Iowa City Carnival, asked children to draw on individual pieces of square cloth. Ultimately, the cloths they designed will be sewn into larger costumes full of similar cloths designed by communities throughout Iowa.
They'll be worn in the Carnival Parade next summer in Iowa City. The group specializes in telling Iowa's stories through art.
Susan Murty, who traveled around in an extravagant horse riding costume during the event, believes the Children's Festival is growing in popularity.
"I was around when it first began, and it was smaller then," she said. "It's grown so much bigger; I think it's wonderful. It's a really nice community event."
Of course, the focus of the festival is puppets. The Eulenspiegel Puppet Company kicked off the puppet shows in Ron-De-Voo Park early in the morning. As each proceeding puppeteer performed, crowds filled the tiny park.
Performers included Corcoran Puppets from Wisconsin, Village Idiot Puppets from Minnesota and the Gypsy Puppet Theatre and Toybox Theatre from North Carolina.
"We had a lot of out of town guests, including many puppeteers who weren't performing," said Leo. "We were visited by the new Executive of Directors for the national organization Puppeteers of America."
Around 1:30 p.m. the rain began to fall consistently, forcing many of the booths to shut down. However, puppet performances were moved inside the Eulenspiegel building.
Despite the move, community members stuck around for the remaining shows. It just goes to show that bad weather can be fanned away by the dreams of children.