COLUMBIA — Garret Boyd, 5, stuck out his chest and pointed at his new blue pen, made out of acrylic resin.
"I picked out a pen because it was so cool," he said. "It matches my shirt."
Boyd chose the piece, handmade by Laurie Wilhite from Santa Claus, Ind., all by himself from the Young Collectors Tent, the latest addition to Columbia Art League's Art in the Park festival.
The only rule in the tent is that no adults are allowed.
Anxious parents stood at the fringes of the tent and watched their kids beeline toward the first colorful work catching their attention.
Parents attempting to go in the tent with their child were gently turned away.
“I’m sorry! No adults allowed,” Tracy Eichhorn, a Columbia Art League board member, said from under the tent. A $5 donation allowed kids into the tent. After that, it was up to them.
“We want it to be the child’s choice and not the parent’s choice,” said Diana Moxon, executive director of the Columbia Art League. Moxon said parents tend to say, “Oh, get that! Get that!” when their child is trying to pick something out.
The goal at the new tent was to sell 20 pieces every half-hour. Within the first two hours of its debut, 82 of the 280 pieces of donated art went home with kids.
The tent had about 20 kids every half-hour during mid-morning on Saturday, Eichhorn said. Profits from the tent will go toward the cost of the tent, the Missouri Head Start Association, Title I preschool, Bearcreek Art Club and the Columbia Housing Authority's Moving Ahead Program.
Local artists donated the art, which included paintings, jewelry, trinket boxes, postcards, woodcarvings and ceramic sculptures.
CAL, a calico cat puppet, made her debut at the Young Collectors Tent, too. The puppet was designed by MU graphic design student Kelsey Hoehn and made by April Karlovit, a professional puppet maker.
“It’s her first day on the job,” said Patty Jaconetta Groening, education director of Columbia Art League. Groening, who was operating the 3-foot mascot, said CAL was her idea.
CAL’s face is also on a button kids receive after their purchase.
Groening said CAL will be present at children’s classes at the Columbia Art League. The cloth feline is aimed especially toward younger children and for some of the outreach programs in the community.
“We hope to introduce her to Truman the Tiger at some point, you know,” Groening said.