Farmington Children’s Festival attracts, delights many families at UMF

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FARMINGTON — A few hundred families participated in the 31st annual Children’s Festival on Saturday.

Sponsored by the Franklin County Children’s Task Force, the festival offered children and their families a break from winter. It was held in the Olsen Student Center on the University of Maine at Farmington campus.

“This is a great, great thing for the town to do this,” Debbie Paling of Wilton said after Eileen McGuire of Farmington painted a dump truck on Paling’s left cheek.

Paling got her face painted to convince her grandson, Deagan Bubier, 2, of Wilton, to get his painted, too. But Bubier was reluctant to submit to the brush.

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“He made cookies and decorated them and had pizza,” Paling said of her grandson as he and his mother headed for the next activity table.

At the Everyone’s Resource Depot table, Carter Norton, 7, and his brother, Cameron Norton, 4, both of Farmington, were making and assembling their Olympic gold medals. Carter decided to feature a snow jump athlete on his, while Cameron chose a snowboarder.

Their mother, Betsy Norton of Farmington, stood behind them, holding her 18-month-old son, Bryce Norton, in a body sling.

She said this was their sixth year at the festival, but it was the debut year for the Olympic gold-medal crafting activity.

“This is a good way to start their school vacation,” Betsy Norton said of the festival.

“All right, Carter! Is that a downhill skier?” she said, praising her son.

“No, it’s a jumper,” Carter said.

Cameron finished his first. Grace Toles of Skowhegan, a fourth-year student at UMF working for the depot, strung it with yarn and bestowed Cameron with the medal. The youngster’s face lit up with a big grin.

Across the Hands-On Activities room, 3-year-old Owen Parsons was captivated by a large monkey arm and hand puppet named Cate that was being deftly manipulated by Judy Hamilton.

Hamilton was helping to advertise Camp at the Eastward, a Presbyterian summer camp owned and operated in Starks by Mission at the Eastward. She said the monkey, who was draped around her neck, is named for the camp’s acronym.

“It’s perfect and it’s in between snowstorms, so we’re trying to get out of the house,” said Parsons’ mother, Karin Parsons of Farmington. “He’s having a blast,” she said as she filmed Owen’s reactions.

Then McGruff the Crime Dog came over to check out Cate and bent down to shake paws with children who recognized him. A few gave McGruff big hugs.

In North Dining Hall, Donna Nichols and her children were watching Dennis Labbe of Steep Falls perform his Mr. Magic act onstage. She said she’s been attending the festival since its inception.”We like pretty much everything,” Donna Nichols said.

Mr. Magic had nearly everyone in his large audience rollicking in their seats as Los Del Rio’s Spanish dance song, “The Macarena,” played over the sound system. Using his hands, Mr. Magic stood behind a young child that he’d dressed up as a magician. Labbe’s hands simulated the boy’s hands so that it appeared that the boy was dancing to the lively music.

“The magic show is always fun and the gymnastics, and, of course, the pizza,” Donna Nichols said.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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