Children flock to annual festival in Farmington


FARMINGTON — Five-year old Hayley Rose Allen arranged Children’s Festival pamphlets, carefully counting them into neat groups.

She checked to make sure the rows were even and that they were not too close to the edge of the table. Her grandmother, Melissa Cousins, watched the girl with a smile and thanked her for such good work.

“You did an awesome job, Hayley,” she said. “You were a big help to me.”

Cousins is the administrative assistant to Franklin County Children’s Task Force Executive Director Renee Blanchet. Although this was Cousins’ first festival, she guided the steady flow of attendees who asked when Bill Reid would be playing his banjo or where to find McGruff the Crime Dog and Baxter the Library Cat.

The kickoff at the beginning of school vacation week, the day of fun and entertainment for families, is a tradition at the University of Maine at Farmington’s Olsen Student Center. The morning crowd surged through the doors, heading for exhibits that entertained youngsters while subtly encouraging the benefits of good food and exercise.

Suzanne DiBiase welcomed children to her table filled with musical instruments.

“Here, try the accordion and listen to the different sounds you can make,” she said to Carly Greenleaf, 3, who was standing with her mother, Stacy. “Here’s a tambourine and a vanilla bean pod with seeds inside that makes a neat sound when you shake it.”

DiBiase, owner of Anson-based Rainbow Instrument Petting Zoo, offers music workshops to classrooms, in which she gives lessons about music from nature.

The Franklin County Children’s Task Force has served the families of the Franklin County and Livermore Falls area for the past 34 years through a variety of programs aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect through family support and education programs.