'Around the World' festival entertains families

Thursday, July 16, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Amanda Huckabey checks out her new face paint in a mirror at the Family Fun Fest at Flat Branch Park on Wednesday.

COLUMBIA — Families flocked to Flat Branch Park Wednesday evening to experience the thrill of going around the world at the Family Fun Festival.

The event, named "Around the World," hosted by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, is being held each month until October and features a new theme each month.


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Megan Anz and her family were among the attendees at the event and spent time lounging in the grass, enjoying the bagpipe performance put on by the Boone County Fire Protection District.

“I am really enjoying the bagpipes," Anz said. "They are intriguing for the little ones and my daughter,Anneliese, is laughing and clapping."

Friends of China also entertained the crowd with performances that featured drums, swords and yo-yos. Susan Zeng, a volunteer for the organization, introduced the drum performance made up of four performers dressed in red and gold costumes.

“The drum performance is part of a traditional Chinese dance called waist drum,” Zeng said. “It originated in Northern China and has become very popular. It’s fun and good for exercising.”

Qia Wang and Yangyang Liu were among the performers. They said their teacher, Li Yang, taught them everything they know.

“We practiced different drum patterns and techniques for one month before the performance,” Wang said.

Thirteen-year-old Charlie Gan also performed for the crowd as he showed off his skills with the Chinese yo-yo, also known as Diablo, to the tune of Linkin Park’s song “What I’ve Done”.

“I learned to yo-yo four months ago from a DVD,” Gan said, who attends Smithton Middle School and has performed for his classmates.

While families enjoyed various performances, international games such as Australia’s Circle Game and Chinese hopscotchwere also popular attractions.

But one of the biggest attractions was the face painting table. Krysten Conley and her family were among the crowd gathered outside the face painting station.  Her twin sons, Duncan and Forest Lemon, had their faces painted by professional face painter Susie Getzlaff.

“I grew up in Columbia and we’re here visiting for three weeks,” Conley said. “My sons are enjoying their painted skulls and dragons.”

Megan Oberg waited on a park bench with her 7-month-old daughter, Addie, as her cousin stood in the line for balloon animals, another popular attraction for children at the festival.

“This is my first time at the festival and the music is nice, and the girls really like the moon bounce,” Oberg said. “I haven’t been down here and the park is nice."

The downtown location of the festival and its beautiful scenery easily draws in families, event coordinator Erin Carrillo said.

“It’s a nice time to get out for families, and the festival showcases the diversity here in Columbia,” Carrillo said.

The next Family Fun Festival will be themed "It's a Circus!" It is scheduled to be held on Aug. 19.

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