The Chilliwack Children’s Arts Festival is only in its second returning year, but it has already expanded.
Presented by the Chilliwack Community Arts Council, the festival has grown from one to two days and will feature activities, performances, workshops, and oodles of art-based fun at G.W. Graham.
It originally started as a four-day event in the late ‘80s, but only lasted three or four years. It got too big too fast and the lack of volunteers and money meant it had to be halted.
Chilliwack Community Arts Council executive director, Patti Lawn, was one of the performers at the time and was instrumental in bringing it back to life in 2015.
“It was a natural fit for us to bring it back,” she says. “We do so much programming for kids, it’s a big part of what we do.”
The Chilliwack Children’s Arts Festival is geared towards kids aged two to 12 and it all starts on Friday, Sept. 23 with the Princess Pyjama Party.
Princesses from Ever After Events will enchant guests with an evening of storytime, sing-along favourites, and of course, pizza. Kids are asked to bring a sleeping bag or blanket to cozy up on. Rumour has it there will even be a prince on site.
The main festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. It will take up the entire main gym of G.W. Graham, plus the school’s mini gym and theatre. There will be make-and-take art activities, a magic show, music, workshops, food and more.
Community groups including the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve Society, Tzeachten First Nation, the Chilliwack Museum, and Chilliwack School of Performing Arts will all be taking part. Plus, about 30 volunteers will be helping out at the festival, three-quarters of which are students.
There will be theatre games, block printing, henna, and face painting. Kids will have the chance to make jewelry out of found objects like washers and ribbon. They’ll be able to try out spin art using a salad spinner.
And there will be a gigantic colouring book of sorts on display as well. Five large black-and-white prints by Chilliwack artist Dara Kim Sherlock will be put up on the walls for kids to colour.
“That’s kind of cool that we are taking an artist’s work and she’s letting kids colour all over it,” says Lawn.
Dustin the Purple Pirate returns this year and will sail into the theatre to showcase his magical talents. The Tim Sars Trio will have everyone singing and dancing along to their upbeat rhythms. The Ever After princesses will return to delight audiences with more songs and crafts, and circus/theatre company NZR Productions will bring their interactive characters to the festival.
Beyond the main activity stations, children are invited to take part in two workshops led by instructors Stephanie Brubaker and Darlene Kee. In the Mandala Magic workshop, each child gets their own canvas and learns how to paint a mandala, while the Wonderful Watercolour Washes workshop is a fibre arts project.
The watercolour workshop takes place at 10:15 a.m., and the mandala one is at 12:45 p.m. The workshops cost $8 each in addition to the festival admission. Children must pre-register for the workshops online, and there is a limit of 20 spots per workshop.
“I believe kids need an exposure to the arts because it’s about socialization, finding their place in the world, and expressing themselves. It’s all very important to their development,” says Lawn.
When children arrive, they will each be handed a bag to put all of their crafts in to take home. Parents will be pleased to know that adults get in for free this year.
They’re moving away from last year’s food trucks, and bringing in a lunch menu more attuned to little ones. They’ll be selling popcorn, hot dogs and juice.
The Chilliwack Children’s Arts Festival takes place at G.W. Graham middle secondary school (45955 Thomas Rd.) and kicks off Friday, Sept. 23 (6-8 p.m.) with the Princess Pyjama Party. Tickets to the pyjama party are $10 per child, and spots are limited. The festival continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the main festival on Sept. 24 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) is $8 per child, or $28 for a group of four. Workshops are $8 each. Parents and children under the age of one year get in for free.
For tickets to the festival, pyjama party or workshops, or for more info, go to the arts council website. You can also purchase tickets in person at 20-5725 Vedder Rd., or by calling 604-769-2787.
Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door.