FARMINGTON — Colin Woehrle-Logan trotted happily beside Baxter the library cat, stopping often to high-five and hug the fuzzy feline.

The youngster chattered happily to the Maine Library System’s Maine coon cat mascot. His father, John Logan, patiently steered the boy through crowds of children and balloons.

“My wife and I are expecting our second child,” he said. “I’m just enjoying this time and this age every day, because things will change again very soon.”
 
Emily and Mason Willett and their friend Zackery Woodbury rushed to Baxter, eager to get a sticker and a hug and have their picture taken with him.  

Farmington’s Cutler Public Library director Melanie Taylor-Coombs brought the celebrity on Saturday to the 28th annual Children’s Festival at the University of Maine at Farmington student center.

Baxter has traveled from Fort Kent to Kittery, she said, and his name was chosen from 1,200 entries submitted as possible monikers for the goodwill ambassador.

Children’s entertainer Harley Smith, a Belgrade resident who performs as Mr.
Harley at similar events around the state, played his original songs with infectious rhythms and catchy lyrics. He was one of the new performers who pulled crowds around the main stage.

Children’s Task Force Executive Director Renee Blanchet said only very bad weather would keep the crowds away.

“This year, we have NorthStar EMS and the Couch Banana as new participants, and of course, we have many of the great favorites, like Bill Reid and his banjo,” she said. “Our volunteers always make this happen, though, and we couldn’t do it without them.”

The morning crowd surged through the doors, heading for the exhibits that entertained while teaching about good food and exercise. Jumping, running and being silly were expected, and even encouraged.

“We had 1,400 come through last year,” Blanchet said. “We’ll probably have that many this year.”

Blanchet scooped one little boy into her arms for a big hug.

“I’m so happy to see you,” she said, her eyes misting with tears. “I’ve missed you so much.”

The youngster had just graduated from the Home Visitor program, one of the parenting education programs offered by the private, not-for-profit corporation.

The Children’s Task Force has focused for 30 years on strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect through community resources.


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