By Bill Cantwell
---- — HAVERHILL — It’s almost time for a visit to the farm — Kimball Farm, that is.
The annual KidsFEST event for children and their families is moving from downtown to the city’s rural outskirts this weekend, bringing a new flavor to the festival.
Here are the details:
When: Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Kimball Farm, 791 East Broadway, in the city’s historic Rocks Village area
Admission: Free, $2 for parking
Highlights: Live entertainment, including the Haverhill Junior and Senior Idol singing competitions; a giant mural art project sponsored by the Haverhill Cultural Council; live petting zoo; pony rides; a Velcro wall jump; helicopter rides; water balloon toss; teddy bear and doll clinics; bongo playing; giant bubbles; vintage fire trucks; a Ghostbusters car; Clean River Project educational program; bouncy house; face painting; Old MacDonald video booth.
Rules: Outside food and beverages, dogs, skateboards and bicycles will not be permitted.
The festival, which is more than 25 years old, has been held downtown in the past — most recently on top of the Merrimack Street parking deck.
Organizers said they chose a rural location this year to give visitors a change of scenery and activities.
“This year’s KidsFEST will be different from the past years because Kimball Farm has graciously offered their beautiful farm as a venue where the children will be able to run freely and take in a more rustic environment,’’ said Sven Amirian, president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, organizer of the event.
“All the elements of KidsFEST that the city has come to love will still be there at the new venue, plus many new exciting features that just could not happen on the concrete of the parking deck,” he said.
KidsFEST was originally scheduled for May 18, but rain forced organizers to postpone it. To avoid any conflicts with Memorial Day events and in an attempt for better weather, they moved it to this Sunday.
The chamber is organizing the festival in collaboration with the Trinity E.M.S. ambulance service, Merrimack Valley Hospital and Holy Family Hospital.
Amirian said one reason for moving KidsFEST to a farm setting was the simple enjoyment of a rural environment.
“It’s very important for our children to stay connected with nature and we feel that Kimball Farm offers the perfect setting for families to enjoy traditional KidsFEST attractions while also having a place to run and play in wide expanses of green grass,” he said. “From good old fashioned field day activities like water balloon tossing, parachute play and potato-sack races to bigger and more exciting additions like sumo wrestling, a Velcro wall jump and helicopter rides, these are all possible due to the change in venue.’’