FARMINGTON – Smiles could be found everywhere on Feb. 26, as the Franklin County Children’s Task Force celebrated the 22nd annual Children’s Festival at the University of Maine at Farmington. More than 1,200 people stopped in to check out this year’s event. Welcome tables were set up at the entrances, encouraging families to sign up for a chance to win a T-shirt. Everyone who filled out an evaluation was presented with a water bottle.

The festival is an annual event that is funded through donations from local businesses and individuals. The University of Maine of Farmington has donated the Olsen Student Center through the years, along with a custodial staff who set up and cleaned up.

The South Dining Hall was alive with performances throughout the day. New additions this year included the Sign Company, made up of four women who do American Sign Language. The group performed skits and offered their services to the hearing impaired for the entire time.

Conjuring Carroll was another new addition this year, performing his magic. Jane Naliboff, a local children’s book author, read one of her stories. Bill Reid played the banjo and Mike Monahan finished the day with his Universal Dance of Peace. Staff member Renee Blanchet served as master of ceremonies.

Task force board members assisted children with cookie decorating. Kocheese the clown made sure each child in line got a special balloon animal. Kids could be found in the Gross Motor Room seeing how high they could jump, tumbling, dancing and exploring musical instruments and discovery toys.

In the Food Court volunteers were handing out popcorn, water and juice, pizza, ice cream and lemonade. Children were fingerprinted and videotaped for their parents to keep a record, compliments of CHIPS volunteers.

Task force staff member Deb McGrane was in the hands-on room ensuring that everything ran smoothly while assisting McGruff the Crime Dog, who was handing out stickers and greeting children.

More than 20 organizations were present, offering children a variety of activities. Twelve-year-old Harris Roberts performed some of his magic and face painters could be found with brush in hand.

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