A full day of games, music and fun awaits families at the 12th annual Grandfather Mountain Kidfest on Saturday, Sept. 12.
The annual event celebrates the nature and culture of the North Carolina mountains, from its animals and weather to its music and stories. All activities are included with park admission.
“Kidfest is our annual event to showcase the park’s natural and cultural wonders to our younger visitors,” Grandfather Mountain chief naturalist Mickey Shortt said. “It provides an added suite of programs and other fun experiences for children to enjoy. This includes a guided hike in the forest, mountain stories and games!”
The fun begins at 10 a.m. with the Woods Walk Exploration, where young explorers will search for evidence of animal activity.
The investigation continues at 11 a.m., with “Animal CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” at the Let It Rain Picnic Shelter, wherein young detectives will follow natural clues to discover what sort of animals roam Grandfather Mountain.
At noon, however, Kidfest changes tune.
“In addition to our regular nature programming, we’re offering more opportunities for experiencing mountain music and storytelling,” Shortt said.
From noon to 1 p.m., participants can visit the “Instrument Petting Zoo” in the Butterfly Garden area near the fudge shop. Mark Freed, cultural coordinator from the Jones House Community Center in Boone, will bring a range of instruments for a literal hands-on experience open to kids of all ages — including adults.
The fun continues at 1 p.m., with “Mountain Song and Story with Glenn Bolick.” The program features Bolick, a locally renowned storyteller, telling tales and showcasing some old-timey toys in the Nature Museum Auditorium.
At 2 p.m., education takes flight, as staff naturalists offer young participants an up-close-and-personal look at butterflies. Kids will catch and identify different species of butterflies, while learning about these delicate creatures’ habits and life cycle.
Shortly thereafter, kids will learn about a considerably larger creature that calls Grandfather home — the black bear. The Bears Kids Program, also led by the naturalist team, will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the Butterfly Garden.
Throughout the morning and early afternoon, kids can stop by the Nature Museum lobby for free face painting or even venture to the Top Shop’s second floor to learn more about the animals of Grandfather Mountain.
In addition to the special programs taking place throughout the day, families can enjoy the experiences that make Grandfather Mountain exciting year-round, including crossing the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, watching animals frolic in the animal habitats, exploring the Nature Museum, hiking the trails and tasting the treats at the restaurant and fudge shop.
For more information, including a complete schedule, visit www.grandfather.com/events/kidfest/, or call (828) 733-2013.
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or plan a trip at www.grandfather.com.