There are many things to do at the Michigan Brown Trout Festival in Alpena, but perhaps the fasting growing even is Family Fun Day. On Sunday parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and even brothers and sisters brought children to the tent to take part in special activities aimed at entertaining and educating them.
Outside the tent local emergency service personnel allowed the children to get up close to the vehicles and tools they use at work. There was a firetruck, police cars and even an air-boat. Inside the tent there was face painting, balloon art and turbo dancing. Brown Trout Festival President Peggy Donakowski said having events dedicated to children is important for the festival and for the children. She said the number of children who take part in the event has increased the last several years.
"Why should the adults have all the fun? That is the way I look at it," Donakowski said. "We had about 150 (kids) two years ago and that increased to about 200 last year, we made up 250 little bags with stuff in them for the kids thinking that would be enough, but it wasn't. I bet we had 350 children come through here. That tells you a lot. Dad may be fishing, mom may be shopping and now its time for something to do for the younger group."
Constance McGrath begins to get her face painted by Jeanne Cornelius while in the big tent on Sunday. McGrath was one of about 350 kids who enjoyed the activities provided by the festival committee and the Thunder Bay Firefighter’s Association.
After seeing the turnout Sunday, Donakowski said she believes the event will become even more popular. She said she wants to see the event continue to grow, not only in the amount of children attending, but also the amount of activities offered, sponsors and volunteers. She said the Thunder Bay Firefighter's Association has partnered with the festival and with its help the event should be larger in years to come.
"Oh, I'm quite sure it is going to be even bigger next year," Donakowski said. "They approached us and asked if we could team up and we said we have an entire parking lot outside the tent and they were able to bring the trucks and boats and spend some time with the kids. That has already made it bigger and I'm certain as we get more sponsors it will grow even more."
Heather Kihn was with her niece Constance McGrath, said she was pleased that there was so much for the children to do. she said she was particularly pleased at how many of the activities focused on children's health and fitness.
"The turbo class promotes workouts and teaches the kids how they can stay fit and the food station is set up to promote healthy eating, which I think is important," Kihn said. "They have really provided a lot for the kids to do and see and it is just awesome that the community does a lot to make sure the kids feel included and teach them at the same time."
Ami Lenning is a turbo kick instructor and was leading the children during the workouts on the stage in the tent. She said the kids were eager to get up and exercise and showed a lot of enthusiasm.
"The kids received it really well, even with all of the other activities going on at the same time," Lenning said. "We did some warm-up and some turbos. Altogether we did about six songs worth of exercise. We went for about a half an hour, which is a good workout for them. I think the kids had a very good time today."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.