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No Fooling For Local Kids on April 1 — BuildFest is Back!

By Sherrie Norris 

The pandemic might have played dirty tricks on lots of events around the area and beyond — including forcing the cancellation for two years of the signature Children’s Playhouse event known as Buildfest— but this year’s adventure, even if it is happening on April 1, promises to be everything but a joke.

Last year’s return of Buildfest was an incredible opportunity for 1,400 youngsters and their parents to find their way back into action, and this year’s fun-filled day offers even more. 

Playhouse BuildFest is scheduled for this coming Saturday, April 1, from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. at Watauga High School in Boone. 

Always attracting youngsters, parents and educators, BuildFest is a featured event of the 2023 North Carolina Science Festival, is hosted annually by The Children’s Playhouse of Boone and is supported by a number of local businesses, organizations and over 200 volunteers — a much-needed component to ensure success. 

Celebrating eight years of great learning experiences for kids ages 2 to 12, Buildfest offers age-appropriate and hands-on STEAM activities (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and engaging demonstrations. 

BuildFest offers learning (and volunteer opportunities!) on multiple levels for children from 2-12 — and adults who care about them.

And for their younger siblings, (toddlers) an activity area will be available onsite in The Children’s Council Family Resource Village, which provides resources for parents/caregivers, plus a quiet space for nursing moms or a break from sensory overload for any of the participants. 

 Kathy Parham, longtime executive director at Children’s Playhouse, along with a skeleton crew, counts on the High Country community every year to come alongside them to make this something special for the kids. And, it’s something the youngsters don’t easily forget.

This year’s BuildFest will include about 70 activities, including many returning favorites (Tiny Town: a Cardboard Neighborhood for Kids 5 and under, and Cardboard City Crew Chiefs), plus two new amazing physics shows:10 am (for sensitive ears) and 1 pm (may be loud).  Advanced education interns will be helping facilitate building in Cardboard City, while keeping an eye on safety.

Parent / Caregiver Responsibilities
Event organizers ask that you do not come to BuildFest if you or anyone in your family has had cough and/or cold symptoms, fever, or diarrhea and vomiting in the 24 hours prior to the event or if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. 

“You are responsible for supervising the children you bring to BuildFest. There will be a wide range of activities offered, but not every activity will be suitable for every child. It’s your responsibility to decide what activities are appropriate and safe for your child. Please help your big kids be thoughtful and kind to the little ones.”

Volunteers Still Needed

If you love BuildFest, please consider volunteering! “About 200 volunteers are needed to pull this off,” said Parham. “Of course, we want you to enjoy BuildFest with your kids, but hopefully, you could consider tag-teaming with another adult so that you can carve out a couple of hours to help. In addition to needing help with activities during BuildFest, we also need help with setup on Friday evening and cleanup on Saturday after 2 pm.”

Parham describes this event as “A day when the community comes together to spark wonder and joy in kids.”

Admission is free, but families are encouraged to register in advance (online) to avoid over-crowding, to gain faster entry and have a chance to win prizes.

 “You may stay as long as you like after you arrive, and you will probably want at least two hours  to explore everything,” Parham said. 

Earlier (survey) responses from Buildfest have included:

  • “It was more than just building and had activities that were fun for my kids who are far apart in age.” 
  • “It was  extremely kid friendly; well organized with lots of activities.”
  • “I think this is a great service for the community. So impressed by the scale of your event!”
  • “I loved all of the helpful people, awesome organizations, kid activities and emphasis on children. It was so fun for our family! While I didn’t use the Calm Down Center I thought that was such a wonderful, thoughtful option for families.”

A Few Reminders:

To give everyone a clear idea of what to expect and how to easily navigate through the unexpected:

  • BuildFest closes promptly at 2 pm.
  • First Aid and Lost Child boots will be located in the big gym.
  • Snacks, pizza, fruit and drinks will be available for an optional suggested donation.
  • Lower lighting for those who are sensory sensitive will be provided between 9-10 a.m. There will also be a “Calm Down Corner” in the WHS library, which will also be available for nursing mothers. The first Amazing Physics Show held at 10 am will be sensory friendly. 
  • The Playhouse building in town will be closed beginning at 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 31 for BuildFest preparations and all day on Saturday.  

Parham stressed that the event would not be possible without all the volunteers, donors and sponsors who help make it happen. 

“Sponsors keep the event free,” she said “and we would like to publicly acknowledge them and thank them for their support:” 

This year’s BuildFest sponsors include:  ECRS, OP Smiles Orthodontists & Pediatric Dentists, Moltox, North Carolina Science Festival, Avery Animal Hospital ,  BCS Wealth Management, Bluebird Pediatric Dentistry,  Erin Anderson Design, Greenway Medical Associates, Mast General Store,  Modern Toyota & Subaru, VPC Builders, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Vincent Properties, The Cardinal, Cynthia Cero, EPIC Family Chiropractic, High Country Doulas, Lily’s Snack Bar, Jo-Lynn Enterprises, Revolution Boone.

For more information and/or to register as a participating family and/or volunteer, visit goplayhouse.org  or contact Parham at (828) 263-0011 or [email protected]