Art draws kids to park

October 07, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

Bonnie Smith said her love of children and the arts first led her to consider volunteering Sunday at the Children's Art Festival at Hagerstown City Park. But it was her addiction that really got her there.

"I'm addicted to smiles," said the Waynesboro, Pa., woman as she helped youngsters make colorful butterflies out of plastic strips, pompons and pipe cleaners.

And there were plenty of happy children sporting smiles to go around Sunday afternoon as the weather cooperated to help the Washington County Arts Council attract youngsters and their families to the park.


Four-year-old Christopher Stallings of Hagerstown proudly displayed the blue-and-yellow butterfly he made.

"We learned about this event from a flier that came home from school with my daughter, Brianna, who is 6," said Jennifer Stallings. "Sunday is our family day, so my husband, Adam, and I decided to spend it here with the kids."

A senior at St. James School, Bryant Thomas was lending his talents to help out.

"We try to give community service whenever we can," Thomas said. "Today I'm helping children making butterflies."

Arts Council Executive Director Barbara Spicher said the Children's Art Festival spun off from the Park Arts Festival, which was last held in 1988. "The children's festival was always part of that and now it's been on its own for 15 years."

And it keeps growing every year. Indeed this year, Spicher was getting a little concerned that supplies of arts and crafts might run out before the demand.

Professional entertainers sponsored by corporate grants included Spats the Clown as portrayed by Paul Hadfield of Jefferson, Md. Jugglers and fire-eaters were also on the bill.

"I'm always amazed at people's reactions when we tell them everything is free," Spicher said.

She added that children of all ages and backgrounds seem to have a love for all of the facets of art.

"You will watch them work for an hour on a project and then they almost forget to take it with them when they are finished," Spicher said. "It's the process more so than the product that is so important to them."

Even though Smith and her husband, John, are preparing to leave for Zambia soon for a mission with the Fairview Avenue Brethren in Christ Church in Waynesboro, they took the time to come to the park Sunday.

"When we go to Zambia, my husband will be sharing his skills as an electrician," said Bonnie Smith. "My goal is to give 2,000 hugs while I'm there."

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