Children’s Fair Returns to Rolling Hills of Bucklin Park

ECEP Booth at the Children's Fair

Children’s Fair Returns to Rolling Hills of Bucklin Park

41st Event Brings Entertainment and Education to El Centro, Thanks to CAP Council and Friends

One of El Centro’s most time-honored traditions, the 41st Children’s Fair, made its return to the rolling hills of Bucklin Park on Saturday, April 2.

Families attended in droves looking to be entertained in the warm midmorning sun. People enjoyed activities, music, food, train rides, and animals. While El Centro Mayor Tomas Oliva was unable to give an exact number of attendees, he was confident that the event was a success.

“Just by the sheer amount of people here, I would say that success is an understatement,” Oliva said during the event. “This is exactly what we needed and what our community seems to want.”

While most community members attend the Children’s Fair for the activities and the entertainment, at its heart, the fair aims to educate community members on issues relating to children, and the resources available to support families.

One of the initial missions of the fair founder, the Imperial County Child Abuse Prevention Council, was to bring attention to abuse children were suffering.

One of the most popular booths at the fair focused on educating community members about some of our more overlooked family members, the kind on four legs. While the Humane Society of Imperial County performed no adoptions during the Children’s Fair, the organization did bring several puppies for visitors to engage with as they educated on pet adoption.

“We’ve even been handing out these children’s books, ‘Gray Whiskers’ and ‘Love Me Gently’ by Lisa Wienebrink, about how to take care of pets you adopt from the shelter. We even had them in English and Spanish,” said Devon Apodaca, executive director of the Humane Society, during the fair.

One of the volunteers manning the Humane Society booth, Desiree Vidaurri, shared that the “petting booth” was used by families coming out of the Autism Awareness 5K run earlier that morning to decompress before moving on to enjoy the fair.

“The parents were able to catch their breath and take a little break while the kids just sat quietly and pet the puppies,” Vidaurri said. “It was really sweet.”

As one of the sponsors, alongside the Imperial County Child Abuse Prevention Council and the El Centro Parks and Recreation Department, the Imperial County Office of Education made a strong showing during the fair, hosting three different booths to educate on different subjects.

While one of the booths handed out free books and another provided education on plant cycles, the most active of the three booths was one dedicated to aggressively educating the community about what ICOE referred to as the vaping epidemic.

According to Brenda San Roman, program specialist for the Student Well-Being Department of ICOE, someone dies every six seconds from a tobacco-related disease despite the reduction of traditional tobacco use.

San Roman went further to explain that teens are using vapes and e-cigarettes more and more, thinking they are a safe alternative, not realizing that they also contain formaldehyde, acetone, and lead, just to name a few toxic chemicals, and then once teens start vaping, 31 percent of them go on to start using traditional tobacco products within six months.

“My cousins always try to tell me that vaping is perfectly safe, but after reading what’s in it, it’s kind of gross,” 14-year-old Jose Alvarez of Calexico said while at the ICOE booth.

Along with traditional educational opportunities, the Children’s Fair this year highlighted some of the extra-curricular activities available to children of all ages in Imperial County, such as gymnastics club, Imperial Valley Flipz.

Imperial Valley Flipz gymnastics and cheerleading caters to youths ages 3-18 and offers competitive cheerleading, recreational cheer, summer camps, and classes that are just once a week with no competitive commitments. They are based out of Imperial’s recently opened 4:13 Fitness Center, providing a central location for members from all around the county.

To showcase its programs, Flipz had its classes perform throughout the day, granting multiple age groups the opportunity to showcase their work, including floor exercises such as tumbling and practicing with the bar.   

“My granddaughter absolutely loved watching the other preschoolers do the gymnastics and asked if I could get her mom to let her join the class,” Sandra Romero of Brawley said. “She’s so excited. I love it.”  

For those visitors who were hungry and tired after wandering through the fair, there was relief for them as well. Whether visitors grabbed a hot dog, a taco or a shaved ice, they could migrate to the northeastern corner of Bucklin Park to enjoy their snacks under the shade of a tree.

While this part of the park was certainly quieter than the rest of the fair, it was not without its own set of entertainment. Atop the highest hill stood a lone musician, Jose Figueroa, performing classic Spanish songs for those sitting under the shade trees.

At this particular venue, Figueroa chose a much more subdued performance then what his usual show, “La Excelencia Show,” features. When not performing at community events and church, Figueroa impersonates famous musicians like Elvis Presley, Brazilian singer Nelson Ned, and Mexican singer La Paquita del Barrio.

“It’s so nice to sit here under the tree and listen to music quietly as we got to eat our lunch,” Julie Rodriguez of El Centro said. “It was the perfect ending to an amazing day.”

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Marcie Landeros on April 4, 2022
Calexico Chronicle

Added on Thursday, April 7, 2022 - 08:50