It’s time again for that funkiest and most family-friendly of Asheville street fests: the Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival, coming to that once raffish downtown area often referred to as Lex this Sunday, Sept. 5.
There again will be a multi-tented kids’ area based in the parking lot between Downtown Books & News and Heiwa Japanese Restaurant. For the first time this year, Kids Universe, as it’s been dubbed, is being organized and run by the Asheville-based Earth Fare supermarkets.
“We have this mission to eliminate childhood obesity in the areas we serve,” says Jennifer Brewer, community relations coordinator for the Asheville Earth Fare stores. “LAAFF is great for us, because we like to really interact with kids and the community.”
I’m all for decreasing the epidemic of childhood obesity — Michelle Obama and I are on the same page here. So are most of our female elected officials here in WNC, as I’ve written about previously.
So, yay for taking up this important life-saving cause. Though I do feel a little sad that the LAAFF days of young dreadlocked artists helping toddlers paint a clunker car have been supplanted by a more organized, though well-intentioned, sponsor with a mission statement (and it used to be “real” paint too as opposed to the washable kind — I had a four-year-old who painted his legs and shorts with it one year).
This year the kids’ area will be staffed by responsible adults partnering with organizations such as the Girl Scouts, Mission and Park Ridge Hospitals, and the YMCA.
Kids Universe will be the scene of plenty of creative activities to keep the young‘uns busy. Stuff like mural painting, a maracas-making workshop and creating tie-dyed butterflies out of coffee filters.
Kids of all ages are invited to participate throughout the festival, which will run from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. (there’s no school most places the next day, so kids can stay out late).
“While our in-store ‘Happy Meals’ are marketed to kids aged 2 to 12, a healthy lifestyles is ageless,” Brewer says. That means you, too, are welcome to make your own maracas.
Of course, fitting with the mission, there will be healthy nutritional activities. In addition, there will be story telling sessions and face painting. I assume there will be hula-hoops, because no Asheville festival could possibly be complete without hoops.
As always, costumes for all ages are encouraged at LAAFF. In fact, I hear there will be a circus parade culminating in an actual wedding during the evening (not a sanctioned event, but fun for the kids nonetheless).
You’ve heard this from me before, but here’s your packing list if you’re taking kids to a street festival: sunscreen, ball caps, water bottles, snacks (major $ saver), a couple of bandannas (when you’re desperate for a tissue/hand wipe/napkin), hand sanitizer and a permanent marker.
Most of these items are self-explanatory. The least obvious, but most important, is the permanent marker. Even if your kids know your cell phone number by heart, the moment they wander off in the crowd and can’t find you, all relevant identification information will dissipate from their anxious brains. Of course, this is assuming that your kids are either too young to have their own cells or have mean parents like me who think being lost for a few minutes at LAAFF is preferable to exposing their growing brains to unnecessary radiation.
Anyway, I use the permanent marker to temporarily tattoo my cell phone number on the inside of my kids’ arms. If they get lost, I tell them to find someone who looks like a mom and ask her to call the number. At LAAFF, anyone in a fairy costume will do as well.