Arts & CultureKiddie Dope

KidsFest Has Music, Crafts, Inflatables—and Now, Beer for Grownups

Athens parents have long lamented the absence of a key feature in local children’s entertainment: the ability to sip a brew while watching your child kick back and have fun. Well, this year’s AthFest will be your chance to have that experience. In addition to the regular kid-friendly activities offered on the upper end of Washington Street, this year will also feature a beer tent adjacent to the area, according to Emily Due, who is organizing KidsFest this year as part of the annual AthFest festivities.

Those with kids “will be able to sit at tables, enjoy a cold beverage and watch their kids play,” she says. The beer tent at the main stage has been an overwhelming success for the festival, so the addition of another tent near the kids’ area is a natural progression.

Music and More: Aside from the tent, Due says many of the annual favorites will be back—specifically, the inflatables that are a good way to make your child sleep well that night.

“Like in previous years, there will be a KidsFest craft tent, the KidsFest stage full of great music, local organizations providing free activities at their tents, the Kona Ice truck, Home Depot will be having their own tent full of activities, and an inflatables area,” she says. “The inflatables are by far the biggest draw, but the Home Depot and craft tents are popular as well.”

This year’s craft tent will have an animal theme.

In previous years, a Saturday afternoon kids’ dance party has taken place adjacent to the festival, but indoors at Ciné. This year, Due says the dance party will be taking place on the KidsFest stage and built into the day’s lineup of entertainment. The dance party takes place from 1:30–3 p.m. on Saturday.

Otherwise, the kid-focused entertainment kicks off Friday evening with Boulevard neighborhood-based band The Voltures. Music kicks off Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and continues until the last band starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday features two performances from former Athenian Sara O’Brien, who is bringing her Community Rocks project from her home in New Jersey for a CD-release party. On Sunday, kids can find music and performances from 1–5 p.m. See the full AthFest schedule for more.

Beat the Heat: As of press time, the weather for AthFest week was shifting to the standard summer temperatures. Basically, it’s going to be hot. But that doesn’t mean you should stay home. With the right preparation, you can prepare you and your kids for a good time no matter how much the sun beats down.

If you’re going to be standing outside of an inflatable for a portion of your day, be sure to come prepared. This means a wide-brimmed hat for both you and your kids, as well as sunblock. Downtown buildings only offer so much shade, and if you get burned on Saturday (or even Friday), it will ruin the whole weekend.

If there’s one thing we can learn from our kids, it’s letting go and getting messy. It’s June in the South. If it’s not 95 degrees, it’s probably raining. Arrive at the festival expecting to be dripping with sweat throughout the day, and that way, when you find that patch of shade in the beer tent during the kids’ dance party, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Also, don’t forget the ear protection. You might be slowly going deaf from all those concerts in your youth, but that doesn’t have to happen to your kids. Get some small headphones from reBlossom or another retailer and teach your kids about hearing protection early on.

Snacks, such as granola bars, plus some water are essential. Take more than you think, because as awesome as it is to get a funnel cake, standing in line is not—and that’s usually when you need the extra energy.

AthFest is a time to introduce kids of all ages to music. It’s big and loud and can be a great experience. Make the best of it!