LEWISTON – When asked what he loves most about performing for kids, the answer comes easily to Rick Charette, “I love watching the smiles on their faces and the excitement that grows within them as they sing, move and respond to the music. It seems that many of the things I write about, they know or can imagine.”

Charette will appear, as he has in past years, at the 19th annual Holiday Festival for Children, which will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, in the Multi-Purpose Center.

His performances blend his original contemporary pop music and lyrics with imaginative activities that generate all kinds of audience participation.

The singer-songwriter Charette certainly knows how to connect with his young audiences.

“A love for the music and my audiences,” he says, has kept him performing for kids since 1983. “It’s all about building memories for me, as I continue singing 20 or so years from when I started. It seems music helps us remember those special times in our lives. I meet a lot of people these days who are now in their 20s, and I am amazed by the number of people that tell me how much they remember. They can still sing the songs! Many of them still have their tapes and records.”

Over the years, Charette says, his ideas for songs have come from many sources: his own children, his wife, other children, teachers, parents, conversations or books and movies. “You name it, there might be a song there. I especially enjoy writing about those everyday kinds of experiences, and looking for something interesting to say, something funny, something imaginative.”

His newest recording, “King Kong Chair,” features more original songs such as “Yellow Bus,” “Walk Like a Penguin,” and “Move My Feet.” He has recorded 10 albums that have sold more than a quarter of a million copies and made several children’s videos.

The Holiday Festival, sponsored by Advocates for Children, a nonprofit organization working with children and families throughout Androscoggin County, is the agency’s largest fund-raiser.

Children attending the festival canalso “experience the madness” with Mad Science, an award-winning production that combines kooky antics, explosive pyrotechnics, and interactive and in-your-face experiments. Mad Science is a multi-sensory experience of sound, 3-D video animation, lighting, laser effects and interactive science for children and parents. Their aim is to spark the imagination and curiosity of children through fun, entertaining and educational activities. It’s designed to help instill a clear understanding of what science is really about and how it affects the world around them.

Other events at the festival will include Balloon Zoo, numerous free crafts for children to make and take, a performance by Pelletier Karate students, exhibits from community agencies and games.

There will also be a “character lunch” with Santa and his friends from noon to 1 p.m. All food items, which are donated by Bates College and Pat’s Pizza, are $1 each. Children will be able to meet Oakie, Sparky and clowns, and can their picture taken with Santa.

New this year at the festival will be C.H.I.P.S., the Child Identification Program. It is provided free by the Freemasons of Maine. Parents receive a personal record of identification for their child, to be used in case of their child’s abduction. Included in the record are the child’s fingerprints, a DNA swab and videotape.

Advance tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children (children under age 2 are free); they can be purchased at Hannaford in Lewiston and Auburn, or at Advocates for Children, located in the B Street Community Center, 57 Birch St., Lewiston. Adult tickets at the door will be $7. FMI: call Advocates for Children at 783-3990.

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