37th Annual Children’s Fair Offers more than Fun and Games

Eleven-year-old Dayanara Gonzalez learns the importance of nature during the 37th Annual CAP Children’s Fair.

EL CENTRO – Families, friends and neighbors gathered Saturday morning at Bucklin Park to celebrate Imperial County Child Abuse Prevention Council’s 37th Annual Children’s Fair with a day of family fun activities.

The Child Abuse Prevention Center (CAP) is a state, national and international training, education, research and resource center dedicated to strengthening children, families, and communities. CAP has a 35-plus year history of preventing child abuse, neglect and abandonment through four core strategies of education, advocacy, health and safety.

Saturday’s event gathered thousands of Imperial County residents who have made it an annual tradition, and continue to look forward to spending a day with the family at minimal cost.

“I have been attending this event for over seven years now, and it seems that every year it just gets better,” said Angelica Serrano, an El Centro resident. “It’s great to see my kids having fun and me not having to spend money. They learn something new at every table they stop at, and that is good for their development.”

Serrano said not only were her children learning, but she also received helpful information on how to be a better mother.

“We as parents are always learning how to be a better parent – we don’t always know everything,” said Serrano. “It’s good to know there are places here (Imperial County) where we can to for help and know we are not alone.”

To teach children the dangers of tobacco and the consequences of smoking, the booth for the Imperial County Office of Education had children sign a pledge not to smoke.

The event featured three entertainment stages with performances by Mariachi Mixteco, Calexico Marshal Arts Academy who performed the lion dance, and various folklorico dancers, in addition to close to 100 vendors and informational booths. The event ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

Antonio Leyva, a Calexcio resident, said his kids enjoyed themselves, but he was also delighted by the Mariachi as they played some of his favorite songs.

The Disney characters of Princess Rapunzel and Little Mermaid also joined the fun as they painted the children’s faces with butterflies, hearts, flowers and event animals. Meanwhile fellow characters of Winnie the Pooh, Olaf, Curious Jorge and Elmo walked around giving high fives and taking pictures with the kids.

“It’s great being outdoors with my kids this morning and not at home where they would be watching television,” said Karen Salas, an El Centro resident.

Bringing out the creative streak in the children, Imperial Valley Desert Museum’s booth offered them the opportunity to fashion bowls out of clay.

Ten-year-old Samantha Ortega said making her bowl and drawing flowers and figures was a lot of fun.

Children also gained knowledge on the importance of nature and plants as they learned the processes of planting and nourishing watermelon and chili plants by placing them in a cup, adding sod and adding water.

“I like my plant and am going to take care of it until it gets big,” said Dayanara Gonzalez, who was accompanied by her mother, Sasha Gonzales and family.

“There’s a lot of great activities and things for kids to do here” said Gonzalez. “I’m here with my kids and sister who also brought her family. (We are) having fun and spending quality time.”

Other children’s activities included playing hula hoop, various inflatable bouncers, coloring activities, beaded jewelry, train riding and a hay bale maze.

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