The annual Somersworth International Children’s Festival, which will be celebrating its 39th year, attempts to make the world a little bit smaller by giving local kids a slice of all of the world’s cultures.
The Somersworth International Children’s Festival is Saturday, June 15, but begins with their celebration and opening festivities at the Festival Pavilion at Somersworth High School at 6 p.m. on the evening of Friday, June 14. Two musical acts, Wayne from Maine and Bad Breath Microphone, will be playing music, and there will be food trucks, bounce houses, rides and a trailer where kids can go inside and play video games, 20 at a time.
The night will be capped off with a fireworks display just after sunset. Friday night — along with the rest of the Children’s Festival — is free of charge, aside from a suggested donation to the Somersworth Festival Association for the following year’s fireworks. As Sue Gregoire, the director of the Somersworth Festival Association for the last 29 years, said, Friday night and its ensuing celebrations are all in line with what the event’s original creators had in mind when they organized it 39 years ago.
“[The event’s creators] decided that they wanted to show pride in Somersworth and they geared it toward the arts because they thought that that was important,” said Gregoire. “And it’s international because they wanted to show all nationalities in our city, and there [were] lots and lots of people from Canada at that time.”
The international aspects of the festival come into play Saturday, as the event’s main location in downtown Somersworth on Main Street across from the public library will have both a Main Street stage with a continuously rotating cast of performers and a World Cultures stage where different cultures will be represented through various ethnic performances. Also at the World Cultures area, people will be able to partake in crafts, food and more at various tables representing a number of different countries.
“When they go to those countries’ tables they get a passport, and they have those stamped at all the countries and once they’re done they put in a raffle for different prizes,” Gregoire said of the World Cultures area.
On Saturday at the Main Street stage, the band Acoustic Radio will be performing at 10 a.m. followed by Dana Perkins, ventriloquist and magician, at noon, Bad Breath Microphone at 1 p.m. and Tricky Dick the Magician at 3 p.m. And performing at the World Cultures stage, an Indonesian band, 24 Denby, will play at 10 a.m., followed by McDonough-Grimes Irish Dancers at 1:45 p.m. and Carol Coronis at 2:15 p.m. Also strolling about throughout the day will be a roaming one-man band walking on stilts, making his first-ever appearance at the Somersworth Children’s Festival.
Along with the festival’s Main Street location, they have a second location on Saturday at Noble Pines Park that people can get to courtesy a C&J trolley that will be making trips to and from the Pines all day long.
“The kids, they’re entertained a lot by the trolley. They love riding the trolley,” Gregoire said.
According to Gregoire, the Noble Pines Park offers a more relaxed, calm venue opposed to the busy happenings of downtown Somersworth.
“Up at the Pines, it’s kind of laid back, you know, they sit on the grass and watch the stage and eat,” Gregoire said, “and when it’s a hot day, it’s nice and cool up there … there’s lots of trees and lots of shade.”
Gregoire also said that at the Pines they will be having, food, wildlife encounters, bounce houses, pony rides and other free activities. Performing at the Noble Pines Park stage is Tricky Dick the Magician at 10 a.m., followed by Steve Blunt at 11 a.m., Wayne from Maine at noon, Wildlife Encounters at 1 p.m., Mr. B’s Taekwon Do at 1:30 p.m. and Dana Perkins at 2 p.m.
Gregoire said that this year they’re trying to offer more free entertainment to appeal to everybody and anybody who wants to stroll down to the festival’s venue in order to offer fun to families who may not be able to afford festivities that cost money per-person.
As Gregoire said, what she finds to be the most rewarding part of the weekend’s festivities is “just watching the kids have a good time. Smiling families doing things together.”
— Caleb Jagoda