Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

September 26, 2012

’Tis the season for fall and for all your family

In an incredibly unscientific poll asking people their favorite season, fall emerged the clear winner.

Fall not only brings crisp air, football, bonfires and beautiful walks through the woods, it’s also prime season for festivals, making it one of the most family-friendly times of the year. Whether you enjoy art, history, or food, there’s a festival for your family’s interests. With a little child-friendly planning, a day at a fall festival becomes a great family memory.

Choose festivals that cater to children. Some festivals cram booths of expensive art or crafts along narrow paths with no break in the flow. Not the most child-friendly setting. Parents spend more time corralling their children to prevent breakage than enjoying the sights. Children — wondering when the endless stream of humanity and bright colors will end — whine, fuss and melt down. A no-win situation for all.

To escape this scenario, take the time to read through all the activities of the festival to ensure organizers considered children in the planning.

Madison Chautauqua of the Arts festival always includes a special tent of activities exclusively for children. Not only do children get a break from walking the booths of art, jewelry and food, they get to try their own hand at painting a T-shirt or molding a pot from clay. Art comes to life for them as they create their own, giving them more appreciation for what they view at the booths.

When choosing a family outing, purposely choose those that include elements such as craft areas, game areas, bounce houses or petting zoos. When aspects of the outing connect with children, they engage more enthusiastically making the day more enjoyable for all.

Remember routine. Children misbehave most when tired, hungry, or out of their routine. A day spent in the woods or touring a historic site offers great fun but can seriously mess with routine. Parents do themselves and their children a favor if they find ways to keep as much routine in place as possible. Time festival arrival around nap times.  Let morning nappers rest on the way to the festival, or arrive while children are still energetic, then leave in time for children to nap on the return trip. Festivals such as Brown County’s Covered Bridge Festival combine both booths of arts and crafts and a driving portion to view the covered bridges through the fall foliage. Visit the booths while children are fresh and plan the driving portion when children need to rest.

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