MASSILLON — Are you looking for something fun to do this weekend? Youngsters and the young at heart are invited to Fun Fest, an educational and entertaining event offering free activities, entertainment and giveaways.
The event, hosted by MCTV, Massillon Museum and Downtown Massillon Association, is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Activities will be centered on the Massillon Museum lawn, 121 Lincoln Way E, Duncan Plaza and First Street SE.
Thousands of families have enjoyed the annual event for the past 25 years.
Fun Fest organizer Liz Gessner McAllister said this year’s event is the biggest they have hosted. Nearly 90 organizations and entertainers are participating and there are some new groups.
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A variety of social service agencies, civic groups, law enforcement, churches, arts organizations and businesses set up games, art projects, activities and health and safety information stations.
Many of the participants provide free items, including coloring books, school supplies, books, balloons, ice pops and an array of other goodies.
The event will feature inflatables, clowns creating balloon sculptures, costumed characters, stilt walkers, magicians and a strolling ventriloquist.
Kids will be invited to try yoga, chalk the walk, shoot some hoops, get temporary tattoos, make bracelets, learn about wildlife, make seed balls, pet animals, and listen to stories.
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They can play giant games, watch puppets, play corn hole, visit the Massillon Public Library bookmobile, and participate in dozens of other activities.
Most activities are free, but some have a nominal fee.
Barb Schumacher, Downtown Massillon Association board member, said the free activities draw a lot of families. She anticipates even more attending this year’s event with the rising prices of just about everything from school supplies to groceries to gas.
“It’s a nice event for families,” she said. “There are different events, crafts and experiences. You can bring your kid for the day and don’t have to spend any money.”
A $4,250 grant from ArtsInStark and Visit Canton helped organizers secure more entertainment. The Fun Fest also is supported by local sponsors, Schumacher added.
“We’re very excited (about the performers),” Gessner McAllister said. “We have the princesses from ‘Frozen’ (Anna and Elsa). They’ll perform and then have a meet and greet. We have strolling guitarist Chris McBurney and the magic of Randy and Tom.”
Crowd favorites clowns Philbe and Bertha will be on hand twisting balloons.
In addition, guests can catch performances on the main stage by Starlight School of Dance, TRU Strength, Eternity Irish Dance, Perfect Storm Cheer and EN-RICH-MENT drum line. Touch a Truck will be in the municipal parking lot.
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Native American Lance White Eagle also will talk to kids about Native American culture and a variety of costumed characters will roam the event space, Gessner McAllister said.
New this year is a free family-friendly comedy show at Krackpots Comedy Club, 14 Lincoln Way W, as the Fun Fest wraps up at 2 p.m.
“I think especially with the way things are economically in the community and nation it is just a fabulous event for the whole family,” she added. “There are so many fun things for the young kids. It’s just a sweet event that brings out the best of what Massillon and the community is. It’s like a good old-fashioned community picnic without food. After the event, you can visit downtown restaurants to get something to eat.”
Gessner McAllister, who has chaired the event for 25 years, said many people come together to make the event happen, especially all of the organizations and businesses that have booths.
“How much time, effort and money goes into preparation for this?” she asked. “They are really what makes it possible. I just bring them all together. Because of them, it is really possible.”
The grant also provided funding to advertise the event on local radio stations to draw more people to the city.
Massillon Museum Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon said the grant award is allowing them to invite families that are unfamiliar with the Fun Fest and the City of Champions to come to Massillon for the day and enjoy things like the museum, local restaurants and shops, and have fun in the downtown.
“I think it speaks to the extent to which we are really hoping to further brand downtown Massillon,” she added. “We’ve been fielding calls from new participants. People want to gather as a community and connect with families and the museum is really proud to be one of the longtime organizers along with MCTV and DMA.”
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