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All ages find fun at youth festival

May 24, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of Renfrew Institute's Youth Festival, which featured the music, crafts and activities that have become perennial favorites for children.

"It's very exciting, and it just gives you a lot of fun and time to make new friends," said Taylor Davis of Waynesboro.

Taylor, 12, sang with the Waynesboro Children's Theatre Troupe in the afternoon. An audience gathered on the upper lawn, not far from the petting zoo, face painting, kayaking and juggling.

"Parents and grandparents seem to enjoy the event as much as the kids," said Tracy Holliday, a staff member with Renfrew Institute.

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Event organizers got a cake and hosted a round of "Happy Birthday" to celebrate the 20th anniversary. Holliday provided a lot of credit to longtime sponsor Susquehanna Bank.

"Because it's our 20th anniversary, we're doing some looking back," Holliday said.

Tom McFarland prepared craft supplies for a group of 12 children, but 15 registered for his 1 p.m. butterfly-making class. Twenty-five showed up.

"I'm going to have 3-year-olds and 12-year-olds. I try to make it so the little kids can do it and the older ones still enjoy it," McFarland said.

McFarland, a St. Maria Goretti High School teacher and renowned sculptor, has provided craft lessons each year but one. He missed one year of the festival only because he was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery.

"I've always enjoyed doing this outside. Inside is like another day at work," he said.

Ray Owen of Gettysburg, Pa., performed "American Odyssey," which he described as a musical journey through history. Children often identify "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," "Day-o (Banana Boat)," and "Wabash Cannonball" as their favorite songs from the show.

"It's just about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and building this country," Owen said.

Audrey Foreman, 8, of Waynesboro, attended Youth Festival for the first time and found she enjoyed kayaking. She learned how to "reach and pull" to navigate the orange kayak.

"It was fun," Audrey said.

She also colored a train and visited the animals; she especially liked the brown rabbit.

Friends Emma Sanders, 8, and Anna Stoner, 14, both of Gettysburg, went swimming before trying the kayaks. Anna listened to the performances and checked out the alpaca's fur because of her interest in fibers.

Emma made a marionette using foam, fabric, string and sticks.

"My mom told me when (the class) was and said, 'You could play with it at home,'" Emma said.

Taylor said she wasn't nervous when singing "I Got Rhythm," "Last Night of the World" and chorus numbers with the theater troupe.

"You get to express yourself onstage," she said.

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