MASSILLON — Are you looking for something fun to do this weekend? Teens and the young at heart are invited to Fun Fest, an educational and entertaining event with free events, entertainment and giveaways.
Hosted by MCTV, the Massillon Museum and the Massillon Downtown Association, the event runs Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Events will focus on the Massillon Museum Lawn, 121 Lincoln Way E, Duncan Plaza and First Street SE.
Over the past 25 years, thousands of families have enjoyed this annual event.
Fun Fest organizer Liz Gessner McAllister said this year’s event was the biggest they’ve ever held. Nearly 90 organizations and entertainers participated, and there were some new groups.
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Various social service agencies, civic groups, law enforcement agencies, churches, arts organizations and businesses set up games, arts programs, events, and health and safety kiosks.
Many participants offer free items including coloring books, school supplies, books, balloons, popsicles and a range of other goodies.
The event will include inflatables, clowns making balloon sculptures, costumed characters, stilt walkers, magicians and wandering ventriloquists.
Children will be invited to try yoga, chalk walks, play basketball, get temporary tattoos, make bracelets, learn about wildlife, make seed balls, pets and listen to stories.
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They can play big games, watch puppets, play corn holes, visit the book cart at the Massillon Public Library, and many other activities.
Most events are free, but some have a nominal fee.
Barb Schumacher, board member of the Massillon City Centre Association, said the free event attracted many families. She expects more people to attend this year’s event as prices rise on almost everything from school supplies to groceries to gas.
“It’s a great event for families,” she said. “There are different activities, crafts and experiences. You can take your kids to play without spending any money.”
ArtsInStark and Visit Canton provided $4,250 in grants to help organizers get more entertainment. Schumacher added that Fun Fest is also supported by local sponsors.
“We’re very excited (for the performers),” Gessner McAllister said. “We’ve got princesses (Anna and Elsa) from Frozen. They’ll act and then meet and greet. We’ve got roaming guitarist Chris McBurney and the magic of Randy and Tom.”
Crowd favorite clowns Philby and Bertha will have balloons on hand.
In addition, guests can watch the Starlight Dance Academy, TRU Power, Eternal Irish Dance, Perfect Storm Cheers and the EN-RICH-MENT drum set on the main stage. The touch truck will be in the municipal parking lot.
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Gessner McAllister said the Native American Lance White Eagle will also talk to children about Native American culture, and various costumed characters will roam the activity space.
New this year is a free family comedy show at the Krackpots Comedy Club at 14 W Lincoln Road, which ends at 2 p.m.
“I think it’s an amazing thing for the whole family, especially given the economic situation of the community and the country,” she added. “There’s a lot of fun with young kids. It’s a lot of fun. Just a sweet event that showcases Massillon and the community at their best. It’s like an old-fashioned neighborhood picnic without food. After the event, you can visit downtown to eat at restaurants.”
Gessner McAllister, who has hosted the event for 25 years, said many people came together to make it happen, especially all the organizations and businesses with booths.
“How much time, energy and money did you have for this?” she asked. “They really made this possible. I just put them together. It’s really possible because of them.”
The grant also provided funds to promote the event on local radio stations to attract more people to the city.
Alexandra Nicholis Coon, director of the Massillon Museum, said the grant award allows them to invite families unfamiliar with Fun Fest and the City of Champions to spend the day in Massillon, enjoying activities such as museums, local restaurants and shops, and having fun downtown.
“I think it speaks to how much we really want to build our brand further in downtown Marsillon,” she added. “We’re getting calls all the time from new players. People want to come together as a community and connect with their families, The museum is proud to be one of the long-term organizers with MCTV and DMA.”
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